Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Rumour Mill: Blanc ready to go apple-bobbing for Chelsea ace?

I’m not a fan of Halloween.

Round my way it usually involves vaguely menacing groups of teenagers, who have made minimum effort with their costumes, going door-to-door demanding sweets. Rarely are they grateful, though at least last year I wasn’t threatened with a knife or a gun, so I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies.

Halloween means it’s nearly bonfire night, which means it’s nearly Christmas, which means it’s nearly time for the January transfer window. Hurrah.

Speculation has already started about who will be going where, but Laurent Blanc refused to discuss whether he will be sticking his head into the apple bobbing pool and coming up with Chelsea’s Juan Mata clutched between his teeth.

“The winter window? We'll discuss the period when the transfer window opens,” said a helpful White yesterday.

PSG were linked with Mata in the summer, and with the playmaker still reportedly unhappy at Stamford Bridge, a €35million bid could be on the cards.

A creative midfielder type, preferably left-sided, is top of the club’s shopping list according to L’Equipe, who earlier this week reported than PSG will be trick-or-treating at the doors of German clubs Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 hoping to be given a handful of Haribo and at least one of Arjen Robben, Marco Reus and Julian Draxler.

Robben appeared to pour cold water on the idea of a move to Paris in typically vague fashion.

"It's always an honour when a rich big team [like PSG] show an interest in signing you," he told Bild.

"But everybody knows that I am feeling very well at Bayern at the moment. I don't know anything about the rumour and I only want to think about playing football."

Reus, meanwhile, is also thought to be dans le viseur of Barcelona. Lucky boy.

Not much to report in terms of potential outgoings. Thiago Motta insists he has no intention of dressing up as a slutty nurse and going to a Halloween party at Juventus’s place.

“Today, I'm good here, rumours don't interest me,” said the Brazilian Italian, who obviously won’t be reading this article.

He continued: “I've heard them [the rumours]. I've been told about it, but I'm not interested because I feel good at PSG and I'm concentrating on my work.”

Javier Pastore seems to have been wearing a particularly scary Halloween costume since the summer, when he first started sporting his awful mini-Zlatan ponytail hair cut.

However, this week El Flaco has revealed a new, more conservative barnet, one which may help him land a January move to Liverpool, AC Milan, or Fenerbache.

"Football is made of high and lows,” Pastore’s agent Marcelo Simonian told Le Parisien today, as if gearing up to deliver a lecture. “He (Pastore) has had a good time here. But it’s not the time for nostalgia. We'll see what happens in the coming months.”

Monday, 28 October 2013

Saint-Etienne 2-2 PSG: Matuidi's late intervention saves heavy-legged Parisiens

Last season, Saint-Etienne came back from 2-0 down to claim a draw with Paris Saint-Germain in our match at the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard.

This year the roles were reversed, with PSG recovering from a two-goal deficit to leave ‘The Cauldron’ with a point thanks to Big Bad Blaise Matuidi’s last-gasp equaliser against his former club.

"The legs were heavy, and the heads weren't clear either,” said Laurent Blanc, who perhaps should have dispensed some alka-seltzer during his pre-match team-talk.

“I thought four days' recovery [after the Champions League game in Anderlecht] would be enough. But if PSG weren't good it's also because of Saint-Etienne.

“We'd already shown our unity and tenacity at Marseille, and we'll need to have that because not every game will be as easy as the one at Anderlecht or against Benfica. Those are qualities you need to be a great team."

PSG are now unbeaten in open play in 30 matches in all competitions, a run which stretches back to the defeat to Reims last March.

Last night was probably the first time this season where this impressive record looked seriously under threat; we enjoyed plenty of possession, but most of it was in front of the ASSE back four, and for the first hour of the match we rarely hit the kind of tempo which was going to cause Christophe Galtier’s men problems. And at the back, sloppy passing and a lack of communication characterised our play, with mistakes leading to both the Saint-Etienne goals.

Brandao had already gone close when Benjamin Corgnet netted the first goal in the 18th minute. Marquinhos completely miskicked as he attempted to clear a ball in from the right, and Romain Hamouma was able to intercept and pass to Corgnet, who smashed it into the net beyond the reach of the helpless Salvatore Sirigu. Quelle merde, 1-0.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who expected a PSG onslaught to follow this goal, but it never came. Ibra and Cavani were quiet as a pair of agoraphobic church mice, and Lavezzi ran around a lot to no great effect.

Indeed, Sainte could have added to their lead when Fabien Lemoine’s dipping effort beat Sirigu but came back off the cross bar.

PSG started the second half with more vigour, with Ibra driving a low free kick through the wall and just wide, and then winning a header from a Maxwell cross to find Thiago Motta, only for the midfielder to get his feet in a muddle as he was about to shoot.

And then we pressed the self-destruct button again. Sirigu's punch of Yohan Mollo’s cross was a weak one, but Marquinhos should still have had ample time to clear the danger. Sadly the young Brazilian could only kick the ball into the back of Motta, and it rebounded to Hamouma, who had the simple task of lifting the a shot into the unguarded goal, with Sirigu still out of position. Doubler merde, 2-0.

At this point PSG’s unbeaten record looked about as secure as a young tree wobbling about in the face of Storm St Jude, but they were handed a lifeline in the 59th minute when Lemoine was dismissed. Having been shown a yellow card in the first half for a cynical pull back of Lavezzi, Lemoine went in for a clumsy tackle on the same player and picked up a second booking. The midfielder stayed down following the challenge having sustained a cut to the head, but even the blood pouring from his skull could not save him from an early bath.

Blanc threw on Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez, and Jezza’s direct running certainly gave us an added dimension. Crucially, we pulled one back within three minutes of the red card; a well-worked short corner routine saw Verratti find Maxwell, who got to the byline and delivered a low cross which was touched home by Cavani at the near post. 2-1.

Keeper Stephane Ruffier saved from Moura, while a goal-bound effort from Ibra was deflected wide, but PSG appeared to have run out of time when Matuidi intervened: four minutes of stoppage time had elapsed when the midfielder hoisted a ball into the box which went through Zlatan, Cavani and Ruffier and somehow found its way into the net. It initially looked as though El Matador had got a crucial touch, but replays showed it was Matuidi’s goal, 2-2.

All in all not PSG’s finest hour, but at least we got the point which keeps us ahead of Monaco on goal difference. Now our poor, weary, players have a Champions League-free week to rest their tired little legs before Friday’s meeting with Lorient at the Parc des Princes. Everybody say ahhhhh.

Man of the Match: Blaise Matuidi - Kept going for 90 minutes and was rewarded with the equaliser.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Anderlecht vs PSG: Blanc vows not to take Champions League opponents lightly

I've been to Belgium once in my life, on a school trip when we visited the battlefields at Ypres.

While we were of course reverent of the great sacrifices made by the soldiers in the trenches during World War One, like most groups of kids on a school trip we were more interested in buying large quantities of sweets and locking Steve Gignac (name changed for legal reasons) in the coach toilet.

Paris Saint-Germain are in Belgium today, but coach Larry White insists there will be no such larking about ahead of tonight's Champions League match with Anderlecht.

"There is always the risk that you might underestimate your opponents when you come off the back of a good match in your championship and you have won your first games in the Champions League," said Blanc.

"That can lead to complacency. But if I see that my players are too relaxed at the start of the match, I will try to make sure that doesn't last long. I have warned the players that every team wants to beat PSG. No match will be easy."

Be that as it may, some matches are easier than others, and PSG go into tonight’s clash with the Belgian champions as overwhelming favourites. I won’t profess to be a Belgian football expert, but I can read a league table, and it tells me that Anderlecht are fifth in the JPL standings, six points behind table-topping Standard Liege.

Having lost top scorer Brzi Mbokani to Dynamo Kyiv in the summer, John van der Brom’s side rely on Argentine striker Matias Suarez for goals, supported by promising midfielder Massimo Bruno and American Sacha Kljestan. In defence they may field Paris-born Fabrice N’Sakala, latterly of Troyes.

“We will play against a star team,” said Van der Brom. “That is an honour, but also a challenge for a young team like ours to try to achieve something. That is nice.”

Hope the Anderlecht players don’t get their autograph books out half-way through the match.

Van der Brom continued: “Before a match I always say you have to try to win, but in this case that obviously is not easy. This is a really tough task for us. On the other side, there is always a chance; if PSG think too lightly about it, and we have a super day, then we could spring a surprise, and that is what you hope for as a coach.”

Hoping to stop Anderlecht enjoying a super evening will be Ezequiel Lavezzi, who is set to start up front alongside Zlavani. PSG are without the injured Jallet and Pastore, but Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti are likely to return to midfield after serving domestic suspensions at the weekend.

Thiago Silva is back in training following his thigh injury, but not yet fit to return, so Marquinhos and Alex will continue in central defence.

Kick off at the Constant Vanden stadium is at 7.45pm.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Development of Verratti and Rabiot key to PSG's future prospects

Much has made of the fact that Paris Saint-Germain started with a camion-load of young players in Saturday's 4-0 win over Bastia.

A cynic might say that coach Laurent Blanc's decision to play Digne, Ongenda, Rabiot et al was born out of a need to keep our big players fresh for tomorrow's Champions League match with Anderlecht, rather than a deep-rooted commitment to youth development, but nevertheless it's always nice to see young tyros charging around the pitch tearing shit up.

PSG's youthfulness would have been even greater if Marco Verratti had been available. The 19-year-old missed the game due to suspension, though he was at the Parc des Princes on Saturday to pick up his September player-of-the-month award.

The award reflects the flying start to the season made by the Italian playmaker. I've written about the importance of an in-form Verratti to the team before, and he's been instrumental in many of our best performances so far this term.

But there are two challenges facing the Verratti, and Blanc, if he is to make the transition from promising youngster to elite player; consistency and discipline.

Verratti started last season in sparkling form too, but he struggled to maintain his level of performances, and spent the second half of the campaign in and out of the team. Carlo Ancelotti usually opted for a midfield pair of Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta in his favoured 4-2-2-2 formation, and when Verratti did play, we didn't often see the best of him. Now he has a year of top-flight experience under his belt, and needs to show his best form on a more regular basis. Blanc's 4-3-3 system should help in that respect; we have more possession now which means there's less emphasis on Verratti to press and make tackles, and he should have more time to get on the ball and display his passing ability.

Discipline is the other problem. Verratti's yellow card habit stems back to his time at Pescara, and with one suspension already under his belt this season, you can be certain he'll be sidelined again before 2013/14 is out. We don't have another player like Verratti in the squad, so his regular absences are bad news for the team, especially if they coincide with bigger games where his creativity can be the difference.

"Verratti and Motta are in the habit of picking up yellow cards. I hope they lose that habit," said Blanc in his press conference on Friday. Larry was being flippant I'm sure, but I think it's down to Le President to try and help his players show a bit more discipline. Certainly Verratti is still young enough to change his ways if he puts his mind to it, though it may be too late to the teach the old Motta dog new tricks.

At least when Verratti and Motta are out, Blanc can call on the prodigiously talented Adrien Rabiot, 18, who seems to be happy with his lot at PSG after making noises about wanting to leave at the end of last season.

"In terms of playing time, a first step has been taken. I play more regularly. I am no longer the little kid who starts," he told Le Parisien.

"My loan at Toulouse did me a lot of good. I played 13 Ligue 1 matches. This experience gave me personal landmarks and I showed others what I can do, including my team-mates at PSG.

"In early August, Laurent Blanc took me aside to tell me that he was counting on me and that he was opposed to the idea of me leaving on loan."

We've yet to see Verratti and Rabiot play together regularly, but the pair can be the future of PSG's midfield, a potentially exciting combination of French elegance and Italian passion. Blanc's task is to help both continue their development so that we see them gracing the pitch at the Parc des Princes for years to come.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

PSG 4-0 Bastia: Andy Murray mesmerised by Ibra as Paris claim straight sets win

If Andy Murray says it kids, it must be true. Has the Wimbledon champion been outed as a secret Ligue 1 connoisseur? I'll be keeping an eye on his Twitter feed for mentions of Lyon's poor start to the season or Herve Renard's appointment at Sochaux.

Paris Saint-Germain continued their unbeaten start to the season with a straights sets demolition of Bastia at the Parc des Princes yesterday. Our 4-0 win, coupled with Monaco's draw at Renard's aforementioned Sochaux side earlier today, means we're now have a two-point lead at the top of the table. If we can keep this kind of form going there's no reason a second successive Grand Slam Ligue 1 title should be beyond our reach.

"When you see the names of the two scorers for them you can see what a gulf there is between our two sides," said dejected Bastia coach Frederic Hantz, having seen his side smashed by PSG aces Zlatan and Edinson Cavani, both of whom scored twice.

"We're disappointed by the margin even if financial logic would suggest we should have lost 20-0 and we only conceded four, so that's not so bad after all."

Of course football isn't quite as easy as that, but to be fair to Hantz there aren't many teams in world football, let alone Ligue 1, who would be able to withdraw a player of Ibra's talent at half-time and replace him with another world-class centre-forward.

Cavani started on the bench as Laurent Blanc, with an eye on Tuesday's Champions League game in Anderlecht, named a much-changed line-up.

Ibra was stationed up-front alongside Hevin Ongenda as PSG reverted to a 4-2-2-2ish formation, and took just 10 minutes to score the goal that had Murray mesmerised. Lucas delivered the cross which was helped on by Ongenda to Zlatan, who produced an overhead backheel flick of surprising power which zipped past ex-PSG keeper Mikael Landreau. Taekwondo-tastic, 1-0.

However much a team cost to put together, there's no excuse for the kind of shoddy marking displayed by the Corsicans as Ibra added a second three minutes later. The striker was completely unmarked to meet a Lucas free kick six yards out and head home. Game over, 2-0.

Not to be outdone, Cavani added an individual wondergoal of his own in the 62nd minute, receiving a pass from the recalled Jezza Menezza, tiptoeing round a couple of defenders and Landreau before stroking the ball home from the narrowest of angles. Lovely stuff from El Matador, 3-0.

The score-line could have been worse for the visitors were it not for the heroics of the silver-haired Landreau, who stopped Lucas and Ongenda from getting on the score-sheet with excellent saves.

Cavani hit the post before he added his second a minute from time, converting a penalty after he had been brought down by that man Landreau.

"Changes had been made to the team and there were young players in there," said Blanc, for whom Adrien Rabiot also excelled in the absence of the suspended Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta.

"I think our level was very good and we scored four goals and created a lot of chances. It proves everybody is motivated and up for the season, which will be long.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Marseille 1-2 PSG: Team Paris triumph in the Turpinico

Team work, hard graft, and other such Tony Pulis-isms are not descriptors usually associated with Paris Saint-Germain.

But the team displayed plenty of grit, spirit and all that other dour-but-necessary stuff as they recovered from 1-0 down to beat Marseille 2-1 at the Velodrome last night.

We were also a player down after Thiago Motta's first half red card, and coach Laurent Blanc was understandably chuffed.

"Desire was a very important factor this evening, because, given the circumstances, we couldn't have achieved anything without it," said Blanc. "We showed incredible solidarity.

"We always believed we could win this match, even after the sending off. At half-time we all thought we could go on and win it. For the coaching staff and the players, it's immensely satisfying."

I can assure Larry and the boys that it was quite satisfying for us fans too, especially as we not only had to beat OM but also had to overcome the delightful arbitre Clement Turpin.

They say the best referees are the ones you don't notice, and by that reckoning Mssr Turpin must be really, really, bad. He'd shown 12 red cards in 12 games before last night, and ensured he would be in the headlines once more by making Thiago Motta his unlucky 13th victim.

Motta's boot was high as he challenged Mathieu Valbeuna for a loose ball in the 31st minute, though Valby's triple-roll-screaming-in-agony reaction was not particularly edifying. Probably a penalty, but quite what caused Turpin to issue the red card I have no idea. The PSG players were miffed, but Andre Ayew kept his cool to send Salvatore Sirigu the wrong way. 0-1.

Up to that point PSG had dominated possession, but the three clearest chances had fallen to the home side, with Sirigu pushing Valbeuna's free kick around the post, then making a smart double stop to foil Valby and Jordan Ayew.

Following the spot kick, Blanc made an immediate change, with Lavezzi sacrificed for Adrien Rabiot as we switched to a 4-3-2 formation. And the equaliser came on the stroke of half-time; Greg Van der Wiel floated in a cross and, as Steve Mandanda hesitated, Maxwell nipped in to flick a header over him and into the net. The teddy bear does it again, 1-1.

With a man advantage, the game seemed well set for Marseille to push on and try to get a win which would keep them firmly in the title race, but they showed a disappointing lack of attacking intent. Traditionally, French managers prefer to protect a point rather than going for a win, and it appears this is a trait which afflicts OM boss Elie Baup. It took an unconventional scooping block from Sirigu to stop a shot from the otherwise quiet Dimitri Payet, but the home side rarely threatened, and as the crowd began to get frustrated we delivered the killer blow.

The goal stemmed from a corner which wasn't dealt with properly by Mandanda. Marquinhos retrieved possession but was heading away from goal when Andre Ayew bundled him over. A stupid, unnecessary challenge, but a clear penalty which even Turpin couldn't fail to spot. With fireworks going off around him and a couple of lasers shining out from the crowd, Zlatan stepped up and sent Mandanda the wrong way. Six goals in four games against OM for the the ProblemBear, 2-1.

Marseille threw on Andre-Pierre Gignac and Florian Thauvin, but neither was able to make an impact, and the closing stages were only enlivened by the constant flow of bookings dished out by Turpin. Seven players were cautioned by Ligue 1's most card-happy official, though he bottled out of issuing a second booking to Marseille's Rod Fanni, initially pulling out his note-book when Fanni brought down Edinson Cavani, but then changing his mind when he realised who it was. Berk.

But Turpin's antics shouldn't take away from what was an outstanding team display from PSG. If Blanc still has any doubters within our fanbase, this impressive win against the old enemy should go some way to changing their minds.

Man of the Match: Blaise Matuidi - Having Big Bad Blaise in the side compensated for playing with ten men for so long. The midfielder put in a typically all-action display, and showed the much-hyped Giannelli Imbula exactly what he should be aspiring to.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

PSG 3-0 Benfica: Zlatan's birthday party begins in style

Today is Zlatan Ibrahimovic's birthday. Many happy returns to the big fella, who has just turned 32.

Quite what sort of gift you would buy for a man who already has everything is open to debate, but Ibra gave Paris Saint-Germain fans an early present of his own by scoring twice as PSG cruised past Benfica 3-0 at the Parc des Princes last night. And they say he's a selfish man, pah!

With six points and seven goals already on the board from their first two games, PSG have started their Champions League campaign in impressive fashion. Coach Laurent Blanc was a happy man afterwards.

"The scoreline is perfect," said a jubilant White. "When you look at a game, you always have room for improvement, but I enjoyed it because we controlled the game and that is a key to our style. Tonight we got it right from first to last minute.

"The biggest players are always raring to go in the Champions League. Ibrahimovic is somebody who has never won it. I think that he, as well as the whole team, is hungry for it. He put in a very, very good display."

PSG lined up in their now usual 4-3-3 formation, but with Ibra stationed on the right of the front three and Edinson Cavani taking the role of the central attacker. And it was noticeable that a lot more of our play came down the right side of the pitch, whereas usually Maxwell and Lavezzi on the left provide the greater attacking theat.

While this new arrangement worked out well for Zlatan and Gregory Van der Wiel - who was heavily involved throughout - it wasn't so good for Cavani, who was peripheral and spurned a couple of good chances in the second half. Lavezzi, too, was reasonably quiet, though contributed a few darting runs. Still, after such a good overall showing one would imagine we'll line up the same way for Sunday's derby against Marseille.

Ibra opened the scoring in the fifth minute after great play from Marco Verratti, another of PSG's top performers on the night. MV's flicked pass round the corner was perfect for the onrushing Van der Wiel, who drove a low centre across the six-yard box which was gobbled up by Zlatan at the far post. First blood to the ProblemBear, 1-0.

It should be said that this Benfica side is obviously not up to the standard of previous vintages, but they're no mugs either, and it wasn't until PSG's second goal in the 25th minute that things started to feel comfortable. And what a goal it was: Ibra retrieved a deep corner and back-heeled the ball into the path of Verratti. His first time pass was controlled by Blaise Matuidi, who burst to the byline and pulled a cross back for the predatory Marquinhos to slot in his second goal in two Champions League outings. The Brazilian had never scored a senior goal before this season, but now has three in four starts. 2-0.

The situation got even better for PSG five minutes later as Zlatan climbed highest to head in a Thiago Motta corner. The goal was his 33rd Champions League strike in 97 appearances, but first with his head since 2007. 3-0.

With such a comfortable lead, the second half was always going to be a bit more low key, but PSG continued to control the game and carve out chances. Zlatan should have completed his hat-trick when Benfica keeper Artur parried substitute Lucas Moura's shot into his path. But with the whole goal to aim at Ibra struck his first-time shot over the bar.

But all-in-all it was a very satisfying evening's work. The only fly in our ointment was Jezza Menezza, who stormed off the bench and back into the changing rooms when he found out he wouldn't be coming on in the second half. Poor Jezza.

"He was certainly disappointed because he thought he would come on," said Blanc, who played down the incident. "I make the choices, that's it."

Man of the Match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic - The only people who had a problem with the ProblemBear last night were the Benfica defenders. In your face Hoeness.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

PSG vs Benfica: Champions League clash marks 100 days of Blanc

Today marks Laurent Blanc’s 100th in charge of Paris Saint-Germain.

Given the absolutely shambles that surrounded Carlo Ancelotti leaving and the search for his replacement, Blanc can feel pretty happy with his work to date.

The team is unbeaten in 10 games despite the change of manager and our selection problems at centre-back. And after initial concerns that some of the big name players wouldn’t comply with a coach who lacks Ancelotti’s profile, the likes of Thiago Silva and Zlatan are still around and have signed new deals.

What’s more, we’ve seen signs that the team is starting to play in the style of Blanc’s Bordeaux and France sides: “Laurent Blanc has another method and another system,” said goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. “Before, we were looking to move forward quickly. Now, we try to have a long ball possession to find spaces with three attackers.”

“For now the lights are all green,” notes today’s Parisien. “But he [Blanc] knows better than anyone the fragility of his position at PSG.”

Indeed, it remains to be seen whether Blanc will be able to retain control of the team when we hit a poor patch of form. And the issue of effectively integrating Edinson Cavani into the team doesn’t look likely to go away any time soon, though as Cavani now has five goals in nine games one might suggest he’s already bedded in pretty well.

Our unbeaten run will come under stern inspection tonight in a Champions League match against an experienced Benfica side, albeit one that is struggling in its domestic competition and currently sits sixth in Portugal’s top flight.

Zlatan the Problembear is expecting a difficult encounter: “It's a very good test, against a good side with lots of experience in European competition,” he said.

“We are playing at home after winning our first game. It won't be easy on Wednesday against a top level opponent with great players. This is the Champions League and we want to get in a good position for the rest of the competition."

Benfica’s Messianic-sounding boss Jorge Jesus is unsurprisingly wary about the threat posed by Zlatan, Cavani et al.

"Both (Cavani or Ibrahimovic) are great," said Jesus. "I am not PSG manager but I think that great players can always play together.

"So if this is what you are questioning that is my answer: They are both great players."

It's lucky he showed a bit more insight when he was founding one of the world's great religions.

The teams last met at the Parc in March 2011, a Europa League match which ended in a 1-1 draw. Benfica progressed 3-2 on aggregate, having won the first leg in Portugal 2-1.

That night away fans made up at least half the crowd, and the city’s sizable Portuguese population will be out in force again tonight. I was going to make a joke about skiving concierges here, but realised it sounded a bit racist, so we’ll move on.

"We know we will be welcomed by the Portuguese community in France, and that is very important,” said Jesus.

"We hope they can create an amazing atmosphere for our players. We will feel as if we were in Portugal.”

PSG could be without Big Bad Blaise Matuidi, who picked up an ankle injury in training yesterday after a heavy tackle from Adrien Rabiot. The cunning Rabiot stands by to start if BBB doesn’t make it.

Barring any late problems, Alex should be back to partner Marquinhos in defence, while Cavani and Lavezzi are likely to return at the expense of Jezza Menez and Lucas.

Kick-off at the Parc des Princes is at 7.45pm GMT.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

PSG terminate Toulouse as Hoeness bears all about Zlatan

Paris Saint-Germain won again at the weekend, beating Toulouse 2-0 at the Parc des Princes.

As against Valenciennes on Wednesday, Laurent Blanc's men were decidedly below par, but took the lead in the first half. Marquinhos connected with a Thiago Motta free kick, and though his initial effort was blocked by the keeper, the ball rebounded off a purple-shirted man back into the Brazilian's path, and he scrambled in his first Ligue 1 goal.

PSG dominated possession, but at 1-0 you're always vulnerable to a goal against the run of play, and it wasn't until substitute Edinson Cavani slotted home a late penalty that Blanc could breathe easy. With Monaco only drawing against Reims, we're now level with Catherine Deneuve's men at the top of the table, though we trail the new-boys on goal difference.

"Compared to our win in Valenciennes, this one was much better," said Blanc, suggesting that those glasses he wears may have an invisible rose tint.

"It was a deserved win. That's six points from two matches, and 18 points from eight. Still, we can do better in terms of our cutting edge; I've been surprised at the number of chances we've been creating, especially at home, but we're not putting enough of them away. If we can lift our conversion rate, we'll see some spectacular games."

We all like a bit of spectacularness, and Wednesday's Champions League game against Benfica would be a nice time to see some. More on that tomorrow.

Cavani had been left on the bench for the match, meaning the debate about whether he can play in the same team as Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues. One man who is convinced that Zlatan is the problem - and indeed is at the root of all evil in the world - is Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness.

Responding to Ibra's continued criticism of current Bayern boss Pep Guardiola, Hoeness told Bild: "We have a completely different opinion than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We are very satisfied with Pep Guardiola.

"Ibrahimovic is a bitter prima donna if you ask me. He has never really gotten over his Barcelona exit. No team has ever been happy with him. He's a problem-bear."

I was particularly unhappy when we won the league last season, damn you Zlatan and your knack of winning trophies. You'll notice, too, that Hoeness did not criticise Ibra's record of paying tax - must be nice up there on the moral high ground, ahem.

And what is a Problem-Bear anyway? I assume it must be a German saying. Fresh on the back of the revelation that Maxwell is a teddy-bear, we seem to have a very bear-heavy squad; rumours that the home changing room at the Parc is being turned into a Den have yet to be confirmed.

Uli should be careful he doesn't run into a Problem-bear when he's out walking in the woods. He might end up getting Taekwondoed:

We'll see if Zlatan has anything to say in response when he and Blanc give a pre-Champions League press conference later today.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms