Blanc urges PSG not to take Anderlecht lightly
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc has warned his side not to underestimate Wednesday's Champions League opponents Anderlecht despite the Ligue 1 leaders going into the game looking like odds-on favourites.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
UEFA Champions League Group C, Matchday 3
Stade Constant Vanden Stock, Brussels
PSG are still unbeaten in all competitions this season under Blanc and won their opening two matches in Group C, against Olympiacos and Benfica, by three-goal margins. Those results have left them top of the section with a maximum six points, while Anderlecht have yet to collect a point or score a goal.
The Belgian champions can seek little solace from their domestic form either, as they currently sit fifth in the Pro League, seven points behind leaders Standard Liège. That means PSG are rightly fancied to win and move a step closer to sealing qualification for the knockout stages, but Blanc had a firm message for his team in Tuesday's eve-of-game press conference.
"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," he said. "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."
Key names to return
After rotating his squad for Saturday's 4-0 win against SC Bastia, Blanc will welcome back Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta in midfield after suspension, while Maxwell will play at left-back and Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani are set to flank Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the attack. Javier Pastore and Christophe Jallet are sidelined, while Thiago Silva is still missing but is edging closer to a return to the side.
"The team will be different. I will put out the best possible team to try to beat Anderlecht," Blanc confirmed, before offering his opinion of the Belgians, who PSG last met in the 1992-93 UEFA Cup third round, winning on away goals.
"I have seen Anderlecht twice on video and both times it was a good game. They have excellent players, very young players. Anderlecht were beaten 3-0 by Olympiacos but they deserved to win the match. I really respect them."
The hosts' Dutch coach John Van den Brom, who saw his side win 2-0 at Mons at the weekend, is without goalkeeper Silvio Proto due to injury and admits that they will be up against it but remains hopeful of causing an upset.
"I am very impressed by PSG and I think they will go a long way in this Champions League," he said. "It is clear that Wednesday's game will not be easy but, in football, everything is still possible. If Paris Saint-Germain underestimate us a little, and we have a good day, we could cause a surprise."
Anderlecht: Kaminski; Mbemba, Kouyaté, Nuytinck, N'Sakala; Gillet (c), Kljestan, Praet; Bruno, Mitrović, Suárez.
Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu; Van der Wiel, Alex, Marquinhos, Maxwell; Verratti, Thiago Motta, Matuidi; Cavani, Ibrahimovic (c), Lavezzi