Sunday, 28 April 2013

Evian vs PSG: Ancelotti plays it cool as PSG seek to quench their title thirst

Despite the best efforts of Paris Saint-Germain's well-oiled PR machine, talk of Carlo Ancelotti's future has still over-shadowed the build-up to today's match at Evian.

As we noted on Wednesday, speculation has increased about the Mister's future this week, with reports on Friday suggesting he has informed the club of his intention to leave for Real Madrid in the summer.

Ancelotti has denied this, but despite the positive spin being furiously applied on the official website, he still came out of his pre-match press conference sounding decidedly uncommitted.

"I love Paris. I love Paris Saint-Germain and the lifestyle here," he said. "The work is going well. The atmosphere is good, but none of that means anything for the future. I have a contract here. No decision will be made before the end of the season.

"There are a lot of rumours at the moment, but as far as I'm concerned, I don't have any news. Like I have already said, I want to finish the championship and win the title. I will wait until the end of the season before discussing it with the club and making a decision. We still have time to decide what will happen.

"It is not true that I ever said I wanted to leave Paris. I've got no update. The media talk about Real Madrid and other clubs, but I haven't spoken to anyone because I am always very clear and honest with my board of directors."

Clarity and honesty are not two of the first words that come to mind when you think of the PSG board of directors, who have undermined Ancelotti on a number of occasions this season. Given some of the treatment he has received you wouldn't blame Carletto for scampering off to the Spanish capital at the first opportunity.

On the other hand, we haven't pulled up too many trees on the pitch this season, so it's debatable whether his departure would be a massive blow. Yes we're top of the league, but this hasn't been a vintage year for Ligue 1, and it's worth noting that PSG's current total of 70 points would have seen us trailing Montpellier at this stage last season. The fact that we have a six point advantage - potentially nine after tonight's match - says more about the standard of the opposition than anything else.

Molding a bunch of expensive individuals into a team isn't an easy job, and it should be noted that Ancelotti has created a side that functions well most of the time, particularly in defence. But we still have a lot of deficiencies, and crucially these don't seem to be being resolved. A coach of Ancelotti's experience and reputation would undoubtedly be a loss, but on the basis of his work in the last 18 months I don't think it would be a loss that would set the project (sorry) back unduly.

If he does leave, it's looking increasingly likely Ancelotti will go as a Ligue 1 winning coach. PSG need six points to clinch the title, and will be hoping to pick up three of those at Evian tonight.

The water boys beat us on penalties in the Coupe de France recently, the latest in a series of underwhelming results PSG have achieved against the league's lesser lights. Evian striker Kevin Bérigaud believes lightning could strike twice.

"The Coupe de France and Ligue 1 are completely different competitions," said Berigaud, showing an admirable grasp of the competition structure in France.

"They are playing for the title and we are fighting for our survival. We need to play well, but nothing is impossible and we can win again."

Aside from Thiago Motta, who is serving his latest suspension, PSG have a full squad to choose from, with Lucas Moura available again after his rib injury. Kick off in Annecy is 8pm English time.


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