Paris Saint-Germain take on Shakhtar Donetsk tonight in what is a dead rubber of a game in truth. The likelihood of Malmo conjuring up one of the biggest shocks in UEFA Champions League history by beating Real Madrid is miniscule so the Spanish giants will go through as group-winners. We will have to make do with the runners-up spot but we should be by no means be disheartened after the performance we put in at the Bernabeu last month.
Even so, coach Laurent Blanc is hoping that the defeat in Spain does not come back to haunt the French champions later on in the tournament. In yesterday’s presser he said; “The fact that we will not finish first in our group is down to our lack of efficiency in attack against Real Madrid. I hope we will not come to regret this game later on in the tournament,” Blanc said at a news conference ahead of his team’s match at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday. We have benefited from the experience we have gained over the past few years. The gap with the big clubs is smaller than before. Hopefully we can completely close it one day.”
Tonight’s game is an opportunity for the coach to utilise his squad. Some are suffering from a few niggles and this is a great opportunity to put them in cotton wool ahead of the final few games before the winter break. The skipper Thiago Silva is being rested after having played 90 minutes in every single game this season bar one, which was against Guingamp when he came on as a substitute. On his captain LB said; “Thiago Silva won’t be in the squad for Shakhtar. He has played a lot of good games lately and we’ve decided to rest him. There are still a few doubts concerning Thiago Motta and Gregory van der Wiel. Javier Pastore won’t be fit in time, and neither will Marco Verratti, who is yet to return to full training with the squad.”
Motta and Van der Wiel are in the squad but Serge Aurier has been left out. Pastore and Verratti as confirmed by the coach are not in the squad.
The Ukrainians sit top of their domestic league but things have not fared well in Europe but should qualify for the Europe League by finishing in third.