Friday, 11 January 2013

PSG vs Ajaccio: Lucas Moura ready for debut

Lucas in the gym. Thanks for that google.
According to a poll of 100 Ligue 1 players conducted by Le Parisien this week, 76 per cent of those questioned thought that Paris Saint-Germain would win the title this season.

Even for the perpetually pessimistic French this seems to me to be a unnecessarily fatalistic outlook with half a season still to play, but you can see where they're coming from: while other leading contenders such as Lyon and Marseille are more concerned about who will be leaving this January, PSG are getting to show off their latest expensive recruit, Lucas Moura.

The Brazilian, who arrived from Sao Paolo is set to make his debut against Ajaccio tonight, with Javier Pastore or Jeremy Menez making way. PSG will be much changed from the side that just about squeezed past part-timers Arras 4-3 in the Coupe de France last Sunday, with Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Salvatore Sirigu all set for recalls. Van der Wiel and Armand are the only absentees through injury, with Momo Sissoko also missing due to his involvement with Mali at the Africa Cup of Nations.

We drew 0-0 with Ajaccio in Corsica back in August in a match which was most notable for Ezequiel Lavezzi's dismissal and the floodlights going out in the last minute.

"It's been a long time since that fixture," noted Carletto, showing that even top football managers know how to read a calendar. "We didn't show the right attitude there, notably defensively. Today, we're a team, and Ajaccio will face a very different proposition this Friday. We have to be careful, though, as we'll be playing a compact team that will try to catch us on the counter-attack."

Ajaccio will indeed be much changed, with new coach Albert Emon installed just before Christmas. They also have Romanian striker Adrian Mutu in their ranks. Mutu famously pledged to outscore Zlatan this season, but has some catching up to do, having only notched four times in the first half of the season. He is joint leading marksman for the Corsicans alongside Chahir Belghazouani, who is with Morocco at the Cup of Nations. In fact Ajaccio will be missing five players due to international duty, and with their already limited squad so depleted, this a match we need to win if we're going to prove the 76 per cent right.

Zlatan is being allowed to play after being found not guilty of stamping on Dejan Lovren in our 1-0 win over Lyon before Christmas. As I said at the time, it looked a lot worse slowed down than it actually was, and don't think it was particularly deliberate. Others, notably Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, would beg to differ of course.

Meanwhile Nene has chosen his next destination, and will be heading back to Brazil to ply his trade with Santos: "The club is really close to what he wanted," Costa Gilvan, Nene's agent, told L'Equipe. Way to make a team feel special. The 31-year-old has apparently an 18-month-contract, no fee is involved.


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