It is a rarity for Paris Saint-Germain to start a season so well. Usually slow starters, the champions have hit a full house thus far with two straight wins over Lille and newly promoted Gazelec Ajaccio. Two completely different games it must be said. The difficulty of playing for an hour with 10-men at a hostile Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille and then the routine victory over a club who are tasting top flight football for the first time in their history. Bar the red card picked up by Adrien Rabiot in the inaugural league game of the campaign, it has been a perfect start all round for the players and staff.
Next up is an away trip to Montpellier. Always a tricky fixture at the Stade de la Mosson which more often than not – until only recently – has been a scourge for visiting PSG sides. The victory there at the back end of last season was the first in four years which was a 3-0 victory where Javier Pastore scored a stunning half volley in his early days at the club.
Coach Laurent Blanc will be up against his former club as will – potentially – Benjamin Stambouli. The new recruit won a league title with MHSC in 2012 where we went head to head with the southerners in what was a miracle season for them. Olivier Giroud, Younes Belhanda, Vitorino Hilton and of course Stambouli were all fundamental in that incredible title win.
Paris’ new man spoke fondly of his former club in an interview with Midi Libre. He said; “I hope that there will be no whistles (from the home support). I kept a good relationship with everyone. The players, the staff, the president, the fans, the cooks. Whatever happens, Montpellier remains my city, my club. But, there is a game to play and win. There will be no gifts. I’m just doing what I was taught to do at La Paillade (an area in the district of la Mosson)”.
He spoke about his wish at not being booed by the crowd at his former stomping ground. Unfortunately though his own supporters did this when he came on to make his home debut last Sunday which was a pointless act by this involved. Being born in Marseille was enough to trigger this and even Laurent Blanc said post-match that it was “ridiculous”.
Stambouli will be in the squad but Angel di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be. Blanc flirted with the idea in his pre-match presser that Di Maria may be set for his debut after overcoming his hamstring injury. Appears to be a game to soon though but should make his bow next week against Monaco.
Ibra resumed full training following a knee injury (ligaments). Again, the same applies for him and although he was on the cusp of making a return, the coach feels that the trip to Monte Carlo will be better.
Marco Verratti is also out due to an issue with his hip so Stambouli is likely to make his full PSG debut at his former club. Lucas Digne is missing as he awaits the green light for a move to AS Roma. Blanc said the reasoning for the delay is down to finding a replacement which could be Layvin Kurzawa after Le Parisiens apparently had an €18m offer rejected by Monaco.
Maxwell will make his 100th league appearance for the club tonight. As I call him ‘Mr Underrated’, the Brazilian who is embarking on his final campaign with the club marks a century of appearances which is a testament to his professionalism. Max has been one of the catalysts in the progression of this football club. He and Thiago Motta’s influence has been understated since they arrived in January 2012 but their influence has been just as great as those who grab the headlines each week.