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Preview: PSG open Galtier era at Clermont

Preview: PSG open Galtier era at Clermont

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Publish on 08/04 at 19:51 - I. HOLYMAN

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Paris Saint-Germain "are missing" competitive football and cannot wait to get their 2022/23 Ligue 1 Uber Eats season underway at Clermont on Saturday, says new coach Christophe Galtier (kick-off 9pm CEST).

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Galtier has seen his side cruise through pre-season preparations for his first campaign at the helm of the 10-time French champions. The convincing 4-0 Trophée des Champions win over Nantes in Tel Aviv at the weekend even brought the former Saint-Etienne, Lille and Nice boss his first silverware in his new job.

 

His job description will not only be to secure a record 11th domestic top-flight crown, but also to press PSG's UEFA Champions League ambitions. 

 

WATCH: PSG take the Trophée des Champions against Nantes

 

 

 

 

While the European challenge starts in September, Saturday's league game at Clermont raises the curtain on competitive football for 2022/23, and Galtier is looking forward to getting down to business.

 

"Training is one thing, but we're in this line of work for competition. We're missing it," said Galtier, who left Nice after 12 months to take over from Mauricio Pochettino at the Parc des Princes this summer. "There's always…not excitement…but a real desire to get into competition. When PSG play away, the stadiums are full. There's an environment which means that you're facing adversity. That's also what it means to be coach of PSG."

 

The victory in Israel was achieved without the suspended Kylian Mbappé, who had been expected to make his first competitive outing of the new campaign at the Stade Gabriel Montpied in which he struck a hat-trick in PSG's 6-1 win last April, but has been ruled out with an adductor problem.

 

The France international is joined on the sidelines by a new faces in Renato Sanches, who is short of match fitness. The Portugal international - signed from LOSC Lille - is the latest confirmed arrival in a summer window that has seen Vitinha, Nordi Mukiele and Hugo Ekitike also drafted into Galtier's squad, and those three travel to Clermont. The new coach suggested on Thursday the summer facelift isn't finished.

 

 

"It's difficult, and I know that the CEO and sporting director are working a huge amount on it. We're not just buying players for the sake of it. I want a certain number of players who are close to each other in terms of ability in order to create healthy competition for places. I don't know if they're going to arrive or not."

 

Sanches looks unlikely to feature at the weekend given his turbulent pre-season. Sergio Ramos, on the other hand, is set to start. Spain's all-time leading appearance maker had an injury-blighted first season in France following the end of his legendary stint at Real Madrid.

 

However, the 36-year-old played in the Trophée des Champions victory, and Galtier sees the FIFA World Cup and two-time UEFA EURO winner as key to the 3-4-1-2 formation he hopes to employ this season, even if Ramos won't always be on the pitch.

 

WATCH: Mbappé scores a hat-trick as PSG hit six at Clermont

 

 

 

 

"He's one of the leaders in the dressing room. This kind of player, whether they play or not, must contribute the demands and the rigour required at the highest level," said Galtier, who revealed Ramos had shaken off a blow to the thigh sustained against Nantes. "They can give me answers to questions I might ask myself. He's not missed a training session, he's in good shape physically."

 

Clermont started last season — their first-ever in Ligue 1 Uber Eats — strongly only to fade badly in the second half of the campaign and face a nail-biting battle against relegation.

 

The club has moved to try and ensure there is no repeat of that scare with the experienced Maxime Gonalons and Mehdi Zeffane brought back to France to reinforce Pascal Gastien's squad, who rounded off their pre-season with a brace of wins over newly promoted Toulouse. Zeffane is sidelined for two months with a hamstring injury while striker Grejohn Kyei is also likely to miss out with a calf strain.

 

"I would say we're all just about ready for the first league game," said ex-Lyon midfielder Gonalons, who is back in France after five years in Italy and Spain with Roma, Sevilla and Granada. "We're all looking forward to it because we've been working hard for a month. We want the league to get started so we can play and win important games in order to achieve our objective as soon as possible."

 

Probable teams


Clermont: Diaw; Seidu, Wieteska, Ogier (c), Borges; Gonalons, Gastien; Allevinah, Khaoui, Rashani; Andrić

 

PSG: Donnarumma; Ramos, Marquinhos (c), Kimpembé; Hakimi, Verratti, Vitinha, Nuno Mendes; Messi; Neymar, Sarabia

 

>> PROFILE: Meet the new men in the dugout