Tonight’s’ clash at the Stade Louis II is Paris Saint-Germain’s first major test of the season against a genuine title contender. Monaco are reeling following their elimination from the Champions League in midweek to Valencia and then succumbed to selling us Layvin Kurzawa for €25m which was a subsequence of that defeat to Los Che. Nevertheless, we are facing a side that had the best defensive last season in Ligue 1 by conceding just 26 goals. But, they have been in transition this summer following a host of departures.
Geoffrey Kondogbia, Yannick Carrasco, Aymen Abdennou and Kurzawa who now adorns the navy blue of Les Parisiens have all departed; four major players in that team. Although Radamel Falcao may not be the player he was, the Colombian has been allowed to leave on another season long loan. So with big names out the door, the red and whites have had to rebuild. €73.5m has been spent over the summer, including €14m on Adama Traore from Lille and €10m just a few of days ago on Rony Lopes. There is a pattern here as they have invested in young talent, showing a clear sign of building a team that can compete for many years to come.
Their biggest signing – by name – this summer is Stephan El Shaarawy on a season-long loan from Milan. This is a young attacker who was one of Europe’s shining lights in 2012/13 but has since lost his way. This is a huge opportunity for him to get back on track and hopefully from Monaco’s point of view, they reap the benefits from that.
The Kurzawa deal resulted in them signing Fabio Coentrao from Real Madrid. The Portuguese international may very well have been a PSG player had Monaco qualified for the Champions League group-stage. He was seriously considered as Lucas Digne’s replacement. Kurzawa though will not feature tonight as he picked up an adductor injury against Valencia just before his move.
Angel di Maria though is set for his debut. It is doubtful he will start but he will certainly be on the bench. The capital is buzzing for this! It has been a long time coming and the Argentine has been looking sharp in training. Coach Laurent Blanc said in his pre-match presser yesterday that the new man is ready. He said; “He had a tough year, last season, his family didn’t really settle in Manchester. He’s very happy in Paris, because it’s a Latin city and there are a lot of players he already knows in the squad. He has worked very hard over the last two weeks, because he needed to work hard after his injury. Angel is ready to play. Will he start tomorrow against Monaco? You’ll have to wait and see.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back! He has overcome the knee injury he picked up earlier in the month in Montreal against Lyon and has been rather emotional this week. The draw from the Champions League resulted in Malmo being drawn in our group. The club in Sweden where it all began for the big man!
More good news is that doubts over Thiago Motta’s future have been put to bed as he signed a one year contract extension on Friday. One of the stalwarts of this modern Parisian side, a catalyst in the progression of the team over the years, TM has committed his immediate future to Les Parisiens which is fantastic. Incidentally he signed the contract on his birthday and told the club’s official site; “It’s a nice birthday gift! I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone at the club, the chairman and CEO Nasser Al Khelaïfi, the sporting director Olivier Letang and my teammates. When I came back over the summer, they gave me a lot of help and got me to this moment and this new deal. I’m continuing the adventure with Paris! I thank them, and also the supporters. I hope we will continue to win a lot of important trophies with the club.”
With the exception of Javier Pastore who is out with a calf injury, the champions are in full force for tonight’s match. Monaco have not beaten us in the league for five years (six since they have beat us at the Stade Louis II). That is because the last six meetings in the league have resulted in draws. Our recent record has not been great, no victory against them since 2007! We have fared better against them in the cups though, winning the last three meetings.