Wednesday, 6 March 2013

PSG vs Valencia: Nervy night at Parc in prospect as PSG target Champions League quarter-finals

Much like a Justin Bieber concert, the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Valencia had a lot of late drama.

From a PSG fan's perspective, the last few minutes of the match at the Mestalla were about as enjoyable as a concert by the Canadian caterwauller; 2-0 up and cruising towards the last-eight, PSG fell asleep at a set-piece and conceded a goal to Adel Rami. Then Zlatan Ibrahimovic was harshly sent off in stoppage time, incurring a two-game suspension.

All of this means tonight's second leg at the Parc-des-Princes looks tastier than a freshly cooked fillet steak with a side of gratin dauphinoise.

"We will try and play our own football, with our qualities, our character, we will try to forget the result from the first leg so as to give it everything for the full 90 minutes," said Ancelotti, who confirmed that Thiago Silva will return to the starting line-up after nearly two months out injured. "We will aim to have control of this match."

The thing is, controlling matches isn't really PSG's forte. But as the onus will be on Valencia to come and attack, there should hopefully be some spaces for us for us to exploit on the counter-attack with the pace of Lavezzi, Lucas et al.

As well as Ibra, Marco Verratti is also suspended, while Jeremy Menez is out injured. But Carlo will be able to call on Thiago Motta who is over his latest injury, and the Italian will fight it out with Beckham and Chantome for a place alongside big bad Blaise Matuidi in midfield. There could even be two spaces up for grabs in the middle of the park, depending or not Ancelotti does the obvious thing and replaces Ibra with Kevin Gameiro. Gameiro has long been linked with a move to Valencia, so would no doubt relish the prospect of showing them what he can do.

Valencia aren't at full-strength either, with Rami and his regular partner in central defence, Ricardo Costa, both out injured. This means former Sochaux and Toulouse defender Jeremy Matthieu - usually a full-back - will be drafted in.

"We are really going to do everything to qualify tomorrow," coach Ernesto Valverde told a shocked press conference yesterday. Ok, maybe they weren't that shocked.

He continued: "Nothing is for certain, so we believe in our chances. It is normal that PSG are the favourites for tomorrow, but we'll give 100 per cent to stay in this competition."

I still fancy PSG to prevail, though its likely to be uncomfortable viewing for all those of a Rouges-et-Bleu persuasion. ALLEZ PARIS.


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