PSG focus on Toulouse
By D. Crossan
Against the backdrop of David Beckham's much-hyped arrival, it must be remembered that Paris Saint-Germain need to win at Toulouse on Friday evening to ensure they'll still top the Ligue 1 table come the end of Week 23.
Friday, February 1, 2013
January 31 was a dramatic day for both clubs in terms of transfer dealings. Beckham took the global headlines but TFC reworked their attacking options by shifting Emmanuel Rivière on to Monaco and bringing in Israeli international Eden Ben Basat - scorer of nine Ligue 1 goals this season - from Brest.
Alain Casanova's side have greater midfield options now as Moroccan international Adil Hermach has joined on loan from Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia. Also in on loan is gifted 17-year-old midfielder Adrien Rabiot, although the tall left-footer will not feature against his parent club PSG at the capital club's request.
Former Lens midfielder Hermach said; "I haven't come here on holiday. Everything happened quickly with Toulouse because I wanted to play here. I had other offers from Italy, France and Qatar. I'm available for Friday's game and I'm happy to have arrived in time to play against PSG in front of a full stadium."
TFC out to turn the page
Speaking before the flurry of transfer activity as the deadline approached, Toulouse coach Casanova, remembering TFC's recent 3-1 French Cup loss at the Parc des Princes, said: "Above all I want my team to find the balance between defending and attacking. We lost the game there by attacking poorly and defending very badly. We'll try to improve because there is a lot to prepare when you're taking on a team like this one, one of the rare sides that can be dangerous at any given moment. PSG pounce on any mistakes, whenever you lose the ball to them they put you in danger. They've improved a lot when it comes to constructed moves too, in terms of positioning, and with their technique they're capable of disrupting your balance at any time."
To emphasise the magnitude of TFC's task, PSG have not conceded a goal in their current run of six wins and a draw. Against Lille, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu established a new club record of time without conceding in league play, beating Bernard Lama's 16-year-old record of 697 minutes. Sirigu, so crucial to PSG's status as the meanest defence in the division, is currently at 775 minutes and counting.
Sirigu not distracted
Italian international Sirigu said: "I don't accord too much importance to the record. I think the credit has to go to the whole team and to our defence. We play attacking football but it's very important to be solid defensively."
The last two league clean sheets have been achieved without captain Thiago Silva and fellow Brazilian centre-half Alex. Sirigu said: "The central defensive changes haven't been complicated for me because I know my tem-mates and train with them every day. Maybe we played more spectacular football in December, but since the winter break we have come up against teams which have defended well. We know Toulouse well and they could trouble us because they have good players. They have one of the most spectacular playing styles in the league and we need to be wary of them as they have players who like running in behind."
Beckham in the wings
If Beckham, who admits his schoolboy French is somewhat rusty, needs an example of what can be achieved in a short space of time then he should take inspiration from Sirigu, who is fluent in the language of Molière after a mere 18 months at the club. Sirigu said: "I speak French so I do help some team-mates who have trouble understanding. It's not a problem and I do it with pleasure."
Beckham's PSG debut will have to wait for another day with the former England international, who has been training with Arsenal's first-team squad, saying he needs "two or three weeks" to be ready.
Thiago Silva (thigh) and Alex (calf) are still missing and also sidelined is Italian international midfielder Thiago Motta. No club has scored more on their travels than PSG's 19 and no club has conceded fewer than their six.