Friday, 13 September 2013

Bordeaux vs PSG: Wedding bells for Leo as Blanc returns to old flame

Choosing who to invite to your wedding is not an easy business.

With limited space available, much of which is taken up by people who get invites by default (parents, siblings, pervy old uncles you only see once a decade), work colleagues can be a problematic area; who do you actually like enough to share your big day with? Will Miss Y the saleswoman get offended if she doesn’t get an invitation but her mate, Miss X the receptionist, does? It’s a complete minefield.

Former Paris Saint-Germain director of football Leonardo recently celebrated his marriage to Italian TV presenter Anna Billo. You may remember that Leo proposed to his long-term partner live on television earlier this year, a romantic move which didn’t seem to please the fragrant Miss Billo at the time. However, she must have relented in private, as the pair tied the knot last Saturday.

Presumably Leo and Anna spent some time putting their guestlist together, and it turns out poor old Carlo Ancelotti wasn’t on it. Given that the pair weren’t getting on so well last season, this probably isn’t a surprise, but it is a fairly public snub given that PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and general manager Jean-Claude Blanc were present for the ceremony. More fool Leonardo I say, I reckon Ancelotti would be a brilliant wedding guest; he’d just be chilling at the bar, grinning, smoking cigars and making the other guests happy. And he’d be good for a decent pressie.

Definitely not on the guest list was current PSG boss Laurent Blanc, but he’s got bigger problems to deal with ahead of tonight’s match against his former club Bordeaux.

Chief among them is a lack of players for the match at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. With Javier Pastore (thigh) and Jeremy Menez (kidney) sidelined, and Ezequiel Lavezzi absent from the squad for reasons unknown – presumably tiredness after his international trip to Argentina – Blanc has two choices; pick some of his tired international players or select a side comprised almost entirely of central midfielders.

It seems likely he’ll opt for the former, with Le Parisien speculating that we’ll stick to the 4-3-3 formation seen in matches of late. This could see Lucas up front alongside Ibra and possibly Hervin Ongenda, who is in line for a full debut if Edinson Cavani is fit enough only for the bench.

At the back Thiago Silva and Maxwell were both in action for Brazil over in the United States, so Lucas Digne and Papus Camara stand by for first starts of the season. The elusive Marquinhos is in the squad, but not yet fit enough to play 90 minutes.

“We will have to wait and see,” said Blanc of his Brazilian players. “They will have a light training session and we'll see how they pull up.

“We may wait until Friday morning, or even afternoon, after the siesta. We have prepared for every eventuality because certain players won't be in top form. However the team looks, we will be heading to Bordeaux looking for the win."

With big games against Olympiakos in the Champions League and Monaco in the league coming up, I doubt either Cavani or Silva will start, but we shall see.

We’ve already beaten Bordeaux once this season, that unmemorable 2-1 win in the Trophee des Champions back in August. Since then Blanc’s former club have picked up four points from their opening four Ligue 1 fixtures, with defeats against Monaco and St Etienne.

Since their last match, the aforementioned defeat to ASSE, the Bordeaux squad has been weakened by the departure of experienced skipper Jaroslav Plasil, who has been shipped out on loan to Italian side Catania.

"Even the two weeks that have passed since [the St Etienne match] have not erased that game from our minds," said manager Francois Gillot, proving he’s no match for Derren Brown in the mind manipulation stakes.

"When we are up against it, when we play with an element of fear, I think we are better. That's human nature. We are afraid of Paris because they are a big team."

Last season an injury-hit PSG team went to Bordeaux and ground out a 1-0 win, Zlatan scoring the only goal in what was the first match after the tragic death of fitness coach Nick Broad. A repeat score-line would be most welcome this evening.


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