Matuidi: 'We hold the cards'
By D. Crossan
PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi believes that the arrival of David Beckham has made his side even stronger, and that Saturday's league clash in Reims is the next step on the way to a league and cup double.
Saturday, March 1, 2013
Stade de Reims - Paris Saint-Germain
Blaise Matuidi, Paris Saint-Germain's Mr Consistent, says it's an honour to play alongside David Beckham and believes PSG are capable of doing the Ligue 1-Coupe de France double. The leaders are at 17th-placed Reims on Saturday afternoon and confidence in the camp is high after back-to-back home Le Classique victories over Olympique de Marseille, first in Ligue 1 and then in the Round of 16 of the Coupe de France, both of them secured by the same 2-0 margin.
Matuidi featured alongside Beckham in central midfield in the Coupe de France match and was impressed by the former England captain's first PSG start: "He's proved he's not only a great man, but also a great player. I think he'll bring a lot to the team and I hope he'll help us fulfil our objectives. He's a source of inspiration and when you saw the work he put in against OM, well it proves that you can still do it at 37. When I sit back it's crazy to think I'm playing with him and it's an honour which I want to make the most of."
Beckham did the media rounds on Thursday and was quick to pay tribute to French international midfielder Matuidi, who has emerged as a key figure for both club and country. Beckham said: "I liked the way we played against Marseille with Blaise alongside me. He runs so much that for an older player like me it's great to play alongside a younger player like him."
Zlatan on the prowl
PSG are competing on three fronts, carrying a 2-1 advantage into their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Valencia at the Parc des Princes next Wednesday, a match Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss through suspension following his red card at the Mestalla.
A double in midweek took the Swedish international to five goals in three Classiques this season and the 22-goal Ligue 1 top scorer will be gunning for Reims, keen to make up for his failure to net in the 3-2 defeat at Sochaux in Week 25, the only Ligue 1 away game he's played in which he's not managed to score.
Matuidi: 'We have the means'
Asked about the domestic double, Matuidi said: "We have the means to achieve it. If we get through the Coupe de France quarters against Evian then it will be open to us. In the league it is us holding the cards and if we don't slip up then we'll become champions. I started to believe OL would keep challenging us at the winter break when I saw they were still level with us despite our magnificent December. They have a deeper squad than OM so it's normal they're in second."
Carlo Ancelotti is likely to test the fitness of club captain Thiago Silva ahead of the Valencia match by pitching the Brazilian international centre-half into the fray for his first Ligue 1 appearance since Week 20 when he injured his thigh against Ajaccio. Thiago Motta (hamstring) could also feature, while Alex has recovered from the illness that kept him out in midweek and midfielder Marco Verratti has served his one-match domestic ban.
Reims out for rare win
Reims have won only one of their last 18 matches and are without a home win since beating Nice 3-1 in Week 8. A single point above the drop zone, Reims are hoping to emulate Sochaux's Week 25 success against the capital club.
Reims coach Hubert Fournier said: "Sochaux were clinical with three goals scored from four chances. That's the recipe for beating the leaders. We need to keep our positional discipline, but if we manage to win the ball back high up the pitch and we're on a good day then anything is possible. PSG is a special match, but I think the pressure will be greater when we face Troyes the following week. Everybody expects us to lose to the best team in France and we just have to approach the match with desire and with the intention of enjoying it."
Reims are without captain Mickaël Tacalfred (groin), Floyd Ayité (thigh) and Aissa Mandi (suspended). Pape Souaré is available for the final time before commencing a three-game ban. Reims performed well in their 1-0 loss at PSG earlier in the season, a match in which PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saved a Diego Rigonato penalty. Sirigu will be recalled after being rested for the Coupe de France match.
Stade de Reims: Agassa; Glombard, Fofana, Weber, Signorino; Krychowiak, Ca; Fortes, Ramaré, Diego; Courtet
Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu; Van der Wiel, Alex, Sakho, Armand; Lucas, Matuidi, Verratti, Pastore; Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi