PSG ready to welcome Neymar...and Amiens
By A. Scott
New signing Neymar will be presented to the crowd at the Parc des Princes prior to kick-off in Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 Conforama season opener against newly-promoted Amiens SC on Saturday.
Paris Saint-Germain - Amiens SC
>> Live scoring and statistics from 17:15 CET (1515 GMT) Saturday
The Brazilian finally completed his world record €222 million move from Barcelona to the French capital on Thursday evening, and PSG fans have been urged to get to the ground early to catch a first glimpse of their new hero. The ceremony to unveil the 25-year-old, who has signed a five-year deal, will take place around 15:45 CET ahead of the 17:15 CET kick-off.
PSG's move for Neymar, one of the biggest names in world football and now the most expensive signing in history, has dominated all the headlines for the last three weeks or so but Unai Emery's side have had to keep their focus on preparing for the start of their Ligue 1 Conforama campaign.
The transfer shows that this is a club who are underlining their determination to dominate in Europe but they also need to reassert themselves at home after AS Monaco denied them a fifth consecutive league title last season.
However, Paris have already shown that they have the beating of the principality side by coming from behind to win 2-1 in the Trophée des Champions in Tangier last weekend as they took that particular title for the fifth year running. And it was their first Brazilian recruit of the summer who inspired the victory, with ex-Juventus full-back Dani Alves equalising from a free-kick early in the second half before setting up Adrien Rabiot for the winner.
Eager for strong start
Emery knows that if his side are to get their hands on the Ligue 1 trophy, they need a better start than last season, when they were left playing catch-up after the winter break and fell short in their chase of Monaco.
"For us, every competition is important. Our objective is to do better than last season, and therefore be champions. The first games will show what we are capable of and we want to start the season well, all the more so at home in front of our supporters. We want to show them our desire and our ambition," Emery said this week.
"As for the other competitions, we always have the same objectives. We want to win everything possible. And of course the Champions League is in a corner of our mind, but the time will come to think about that."
Paris did not lose at all at home last season. In fact they have gone 33 matches in all competitions without being beaten at the Parc des Princes, and a defeat to Amiens in the first Ligue 1 meeting of the clubs would be a colossal surprise.
The team from the northern region of Picardy are in the top flight for the first time in their history after securing promotion in the most dramatic of circumstances on the final day of last season. They were out of the running until Emmanuel Bourgaud's 95th-minute goal handed them a 2-1 win at Stade de Reims, sparking wild scenes of celebration.
Two years ago, Amiens were in the third tier Championnat National. They are naturally favourites to go straight back down and their budget of around €25 million is barely one-tenth of Neymar's price.
"It would be presumptuous on my part to say that this season will be easy. It will be very difficult. Our team is under construction and we will need to be patient, like we were when we came up from the National to Ligue 2," said Amiens president Bernard Joannin to the Courrier Picard.
Amiens have extended the contract of promotion-winning coach Christophe Pelissier until 2019 and their summer signings include the experienced Mathieu Bodmer. Now 34, Bodmer was a free agent after a spell at Guingamp last season and is now at his seventh top-flight club. He played for PSG between 2010 and 2013.
One man heading out the door, however, is striker Aboubakar Kamara. Top scorer last season with 10 goals, he has been sold to Fulham, bringing in a handsome transfer fee but leaving a huge hole up front.
"I saw the Monaco-PSG game and people said to me that it was a good time to play them. But when you see what they did, I'm not sure there is a good time," added Joannin, who was speaking before Neymar's move was made official.
"They are an exceptional side. I think they are going to succeed in signing Neymar and there will be a big party on Saturday for his arrival. We are lucky to be taking part in it and I think we will realise on Saturday at 5pm that we are in Ligue 1."
PSG: Areola; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva (c), Kurzawa; Verratti, Thiago Motta, Rabiot; Di Maria, Cavani, Pastore
Amiens: Gurtner; El-Hajjam, Adenon, Ngosso, Bodmer, Cissokho; Ndombelé, Monconduit (c), Fofana; Charrier, Koita
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