It is 1st against 3rd this afternoon. Paris Saint-Germain are sat top of the pile with 13 points along with Rennes – who have played a game more – but an unfamiliar names sits just behind the twosome in those Champions League spots. That is today’s opponents Stade de Reims. One of France’s most historic clubs and former European Cup stalwarts during late 1950’s, Olivier Guagan’s side have made a terrific start.
One defeat, one draw and three victories including a 1-0 win over Marseille thanks to Hamari Traore and a 4-1 demolition of Lorient just before the international break. But, you can make a case for their best result coming just last week away at Toulouse where they came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw. Frederic Bulot’s stinging left foot shot whizzed past Mauro Goicoechea at his near post in the 80th minute to take a point back to Champagne-Ardenne.
Even though SDR flirted with relegation last season you can applaud what they are doing this time around. It is early days of course but the character shown last week remonstrates the renewed belief in the squad which can only put them in good stead heading into the winter months.
This will not be an easy game for Les Parisiens by any means. We do find trips away from home pretty strenurous at times after a European game but the coach Laurent Blanc will no doubt mix things up by bringing in some different faces. Layvin Kurzawa stands a good chance at making his full debut for the club. Benjamin Stambouli may also be in with a shout at starting.
I said just before the game at home to Bordeaux last week that the season starts now theoretically as the matches are going to come thick and fast with Europe now in the mix. Blanc knows this full well and alluded to it in his pre-match presser yesterday by saying; “We are used to dealing with this issue. Club’s that are regulars in Europe are used to playing every three or four days. It’s important to have a healthy squad and important to keep getting results. We need to win to keep picking up points. But, obviously, there is a certain amount of fatigue. Playing in Europe costs a lot of points. Whether it’s before or after a Champions League match, it’s not always easy to refocus on the domestic league, because European games are special.”
Only two notable absentees from the Parisian squad for today. Adrien Rabiot has a bruised knee so hasn’t made the trip. David Luiz is also out, the reason? Well Le Parisien said yesterday that he had a complaint with his ribs after the game against Malmo but it could be due to the fact that if he picks up a yellow card he will miss the ‘classique’ against Marseille. In either case, the coach felt it was not worth the risk.