We are back guys! The international break is finally over and domestic football returns with the visit of OGC Nice to the Parc des Princes tomorrow afternoon. Of course, with the title already won and Manchester City making the trip to Paris on Wednesday, Laurent Blanc will utilise his squad.
The big news this week is that Serge Aurier has returned to first-team training. After the whole fiasco surrounding his future following his explicit comments about his coach and teammates, there is a strong possibility he could return to first-team action. It will be an incredible turnaround for the Ivorian who played for two 90-minute matches for his national team the Ivory Coast during the international period.
Blanc was very frank about the matter in an interview with the radio station France Info. He literally summed it up by saying; “He’s re-joining the squad and he should be considered as a squad player. Nothing more, nothing less”. So in essence, he is in with a shout of playing tomorrow or even on Wednesday against City. We shall wait and see!
One player who will not feature tomorrow is Javier Pastore. The Argentine has again been struck down by injury but this time it involves his calf. Blanc confirmed in his pre-match presser that he will probably miss out.
Marco Verratti is another who will not make the group. The Italian’s injury problems have been well documented and will more than likely miss the quarter-final against City too. Having not played for nearly two months since the 4-1 victory over Stade de Reims, the medical team at Camp des Loges need to take extra precautions with him.
The 0-2 loss to Monaco before the break did sting a little, despite the title already being wrapped up. It is too harsh to say we have had a dip in form but at the Parc we have failed to score in three of the last four home games, which will be a slight concern to Blanc – nothing major though.
We need to build some momentum heading into Wednesday’s first-leg ¼ final with Manchester City which will be yet another season defining clash.