Sunday, 25 August 2013

Nantes vs PSG: Can Parisiens pounce on first win of the season?

Watching Paris Saint-Germain take on Ligue 1's smaller teams often reminds me of my cat (left) when he's hunting a spider.

You know that the cat, with his massive size and speed advantage, will usually prevail. What's more, the cat is well aware of his own superiority, and is often happy to toy with his pray before administering the killer blow. But every now and again something goes wrong; Pamplemousse (yes, my cat is called Grapefruit) gets bored, or does something stupid, or the spider spots a way out and escapes to safety.

Last Sunday the Ajaccio spider's survival instincts meant it left the Parce des Princes with all it's legs intact. And a hard-earned point. Laurent Blanc will be hoping his PSG side can rediscover their killer instinct when they go in search of a first league win of the season at newly-promoted Nantes.

"I don't know this Nantes team very well. But I am expecting a very similar match to the one against Ajaccio. Their team will be giving it 200 per cent," said Thiago Motta, who obviously won't be embarking on a career as a mathematician when he retires from football.

Perhaps feeling he hadn't patronised the Les Canaris enough, Motta continued: "Perhaps they will defend a little less than Ajaccio because they are playing at home in front of their fans. We will have to be careful to avoid getting hit on the counterattack and conceding the opening goal, because when you are trailing on the scoreboard, your opponents can just sit back and wait for you to come."

Like Motta I won't pretend to have seen a massive amount of Nantes, who won promotion from Ligue 2 last season by finishing third behind Monaco and Guingamp. Back in the top flight after a four year absence, they won their first game back, 2-0 against Bastia, but were beaten last time out by Lorient. Filip Djordjevic, who scored 20 goals last season and netted against Bastia, is their main threat. Probably.

Unfortunately for Nantes, they may lose the points obtained against Bastia as they stand accused of fielding a player who was carrying a suspension. You can read a bit about this incident, and the club's resurgence under current boss Michel Der Zakarian - a former Montpellier team-mate of Blanc's - in this excellent article by Canaris fan Simon Scutt on French Football Weekly

For PSG, Blanc will not be able to call on Clement Chantome, who has joined Toulouse on loan for the season and made his debut in Friday night's 0-0 draw with Monaco. Blaise Matuidi is a doubt after picking up a cut to the head against Ajaccio, but he trained normally yesterday at Clairefontaine and a decision will be made later about whether he can start. Marco Verratti stands by to deputise. One other change could see Lucas drop to the bench, with Ezequiel Lavezzi starting on the right flank.

Kick off at the sold-out Stade de la Beaujoire is at 8pm English time.


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