It was the perfect response in midweek away to Saint-Etienne. Paris Saint-Germain earned a valiant 3-1 win and thus booked a place in the final-four of the Coupe de France. It keeps that unprecedented dream of back-to-back quadruples well on track. But, our meeting with Montpellier tomorrow will not be at the forefront of everyone’s mind as we head to London for the second-leg of the last-16 in the Champions League against Chelsea.
As in any fixture before a European clash, you can guarantee that Laurent Blanc will ring the changes. The likes of Angel di Maria and Marco Verratti have been struggling with injuries so their involvement tomorrow looks minimal (if at least on the bench). Blaise Matuidi picked up a knock during the win over Les Verts and had to be replaced so he will more than likely sit this one out. His involvement next week is in doubt, which will be a huge blow as we need his legs in midfield. Javier Pastore completed 90 minutes after his barrage of bad luck with injuries this season but should be involved to build his match fitness.
The coach has a lot to ponder as the game at Stamford Bridge is our biggest test of the season. If we can overcome the Blues – who are in good form under new coach Guus Hiddink – it will give us monumental belief heading into the quarter-final. As I said before the first-leg, the pressure is on us more than ever as we are classed as the favourites for the first time (especially now as we are taking a lead into the second-leg, unlike last season).
The lads cannot forget though that they have an important match at the Parc against MHSC. It is so easy for minds to wander towards Wednesday. As we have seen down the years our performance level evidently drops before big European nights. That has not been the case this season as the lads have paid the utmost ‘respect’ to all teams they have faced domestically. The skipper Thiago Silva did admit recently that this was not the case in the last campaign as they prioritised the bigger games (and pretty much explains our inconsistent start to that quadruple winning campaign).
Minds better be on the task in hand because Montpellier are in a terrific run of form. Three back-to-back wins have seen relegation fears eased. They have put an awful January behind them and can start to look above rather than down in the table.
Our win at the Stade de la Mosson last September was only by the solitary goal via Blaise Matuidi on the hour mark. However, they will take heart from the 0-0 they held us to at the Parc des Princes just before the winter break in 2014.