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.


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