It is somewhat fitting that Laurent Blanc celebrates his century as Paris Saint-Germain coach tomorrow night against a club where he made his name as a number one. His heroes from midweek take on Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban Delmas hoping to continue the feel good factor from the monumental 2-2 draw with Chelsea last Wednesday.
There has been plenty of time to reflect on what will go down as one of the club’s biggest achievements in Europe. Arguably, it is the greatest achievement in terms of the club’s modest history in the European Cup. As I alluded to a few weeks back, the morale heading into the first-leg was low after the debacle against Cannes and so many players out injured. Yet, we were magnificent and warranted much more than a 1-1 draw. And then of course what transpired three days ago with 10-men. Just pure football ecstasy!
There has been a sour taste left in the mouth of the club though. The French Football Federation turned down the request to reschedule the Coupe de France semi-final with Saint-Etienne due to fixture congestion. President Nasser Al-Khelaifi did not mince his words in a statement last night and indicated that the FFF should be helping French clubs in European competition. Blanc had his say on the matter during his pre-match presser earlier. LB said; “The president has already expressed his opinion. I share his disappointment. The decision lacks common sense. In 2010 I found myself in the same situation with Bordeaux. The Cup fixtures need to be looked at, because if we play every competition to win, we are penalised. It doesn’t make sense”.
Back to tomorrow’s game and we are in a physically good position. Marquinhos is the only notable absentee from the group (Lucas Moura and Serge Aurier out already) with a small hamstring problem according to Blanc.
The boys should be bouncing into the meeting with Willy Sagnol’s side. But the hosts will be in good spirits themselves having been unbeaten in their last five league games, winning three of them – one being a vital 1-0 against Saint-Etienne in that chase for European football next season.
Sagnol made it very clear what his team have to do to upset to Parisian apple cart; ‘be better than Chelsea’. The former France international said in his presser; “It will be complicated against PSG. They drew 2-2 with Chelsea and my players know what we have to do. We have to be better than Chelsea. We will go for it because we don’t know how fresh PSG are or if they will rotate. We’ll focus on our output and see what we can do”.
Blanc will more than likely shuffle the pack. 120 minutes with 10-men during the week will of course take its toll on some, particularly the likes of Thiago Motta and Maxwell who are on the wrong side of 30. Adrien Rabiot, Lucas Digne and Gregory Van der Wiel (for the injured Marquinhos) will most probably come into the XI.