Friday, 8 February 2013

PSG vs Bastia: All change for clash with Corsicans

Like the contents of Findus lasagna, the composition of the Paris Saint-Germain team to take on Bastia tonight may be somewhat unexpected.

With the Champions League clash with Valencia just five days away, Carlo Ancelotti is pondering changes, despite the fact that a win at the Parc des Princes would take us six points clear at the top ahead of the other fixtures this weekend.

"There is no risk that our heads are in Valencia," said Carlo in his pre-match press conference.

"Everyone knows that it is important to win against Bastia. You have to take points, it is a very important moment. It would take us six points ahead, which would be good preparation for Valencia. The team is ready and confident."

Nevertheless, reports today suggest some of the squad's prime beef (Ibrahimovic, Lucas, Matuidi) could be rested and be replaced by the PSG equivalent of horse meat (Gameiro, Menez, Chantome). One player who definitely won't feature is Mamadou Sakho, who is being wrapped up in cotton wool ahead of the Valencia match, with Thiago Silva not due back from injury for another 10-15 days. Alex is back in the training though, and is poised to form the world's slowest centre-back partnership with Sylvain Armand. Thiago Motta is suspended and injured, but could return for the trip to the Mestalla.

Even with changes, PSG should still have enough to see off a Bastia side without a win in three games. The Corsicans have never won in Paris, but they do have players who could cause our defence problems. There's certainly plenty of creativity in their midfield, with Wahbi Khazri, Lille-bound Florian Thauvin and Jerome Rothen all capable of creating or scoring the odd but.

Paris-born Rothen spent six years at the Parc des Princes, though his last 12 months with the club saw him fall out with the board of directors and be sent on loan to Turkey (Ankaragücü) and Scotland (Rangers). Poor chap. His last appearance at the Parc des Princes, in May 2009, saw him booed off by PSG's fans, but nevertheless he is looking forward to making his return.

"My last game at the Parc, when I was booed, left a big scar," he said. I assume - and hope - he's speaking metaphorically.

"But it was a misunderstanding fueled by the directors of the time. PSG has now shifted into another dimension and, as a Parisien, it's nice. It makes me happy to return to play at Parc des Princes in front of my family and friends who will be in the stands." 

On his own side's chances in the match, Rothen is less cheery: "When you saw them play in Toulouse [PSG won 4-0], you would say that it will be very difficult.

"But we also have weapons, players in our squad capable of achieving great feats in a game. Logically, Paris must prevail, we have maybe a five per cent chance to get three points but we will still try to do so." 

Kick-off tonight is at 7.30pm English time.


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