Paris Saint-Germain are no strangers to a sloppy performance before a big European night but they can ill afford to do so tomorrow afternoon with an in-form Caen making the trip to the Parc des Princes.
There is no doubt that Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first-leg tie will be a season defining game which the players will be looking forward to immensely. But, as we know, it is easy for minds to wander and matters domestically can sometimes hit the buffers. The draw in Lyon last week was followed up by that comfortable 2-0 victory over Nantes to book our place in the last-eight of the Coupe de France. Things are settled at the moment. The team is playing well, the squad is practically fully-fit (with exception to Javier Pastore) and key players are returning to form.
That feel good factor needs to be maintained heading into Tuesday. Unbeaten in eight games, with seven being victories emphasises the run we are on. The early wins in that sequence were a little strenuous but our level of performances has picked up in the last couple of weeks which is fantastic timing ahead of Jose Mourinho’s visit.
We can potentially jump Lyon in the table tomorrow if we get the three points. Les Gones face the awkward trip to Lorient on their artificial pitch on Sunday where anything can happen.
Caen looked doomed at the beginning of last month but their form has been incredible in the last few weeks which sees them sitting in second place in the form table (last six games) behind Lyon having picked up four straight wins. Their 4-1 demolition of Stade de Reims was one thing but they then followed that up a week later by inflicting exactly the same score line away to Rennes! Two valiant wins over Saint-Etienne and Toulouse have followed which puts them 14th in the table and most importantly, four points above the relegation zone. Their result over Christophe Galtier’s ASSE moved them out of the bottom three for the first time since week 15. Their upturn has been truly remarkable it has to be said.
Coach Laurent Blanc knows this is a potential banana skin and is under no illusion that his team need to focus. Nevertheless, it is a game we should win! LB said in his pre-match presser; “Caen went through a very tough start to the season but have won their last four league matches in a row and have jumped up the table. They are in good form and full of confidence. But we have prepared for this match. The whole club knows this match is worth three points, so the aim is to win on Saturday”.
Experience has been essential in the promoted side’s renaissance. Veteran Julien Feret, a summer acquisition from Rennes, has been the catalyst in this revival having netted in his last four games.
For now, the visit of the Premier League leaders needs to be left until after the final-whistle. Blanc will make a few changes you feel. Thiago Motta has been left out of the squad which indicates that he is being prepared for Tuesday. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was rested against Nantes so he should get some game time. Then there is the potential return of Serge Aurier who has returned from the African Cup of Nations as a champion with the Ivory Coast.
Plenty for the coach to mull over! But this is an exciting few days coming up.