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PSG coach Laurent Blanc already focusing on Chelsea match

21 January 2016, 18:30

Paris - Paris Saint-Germain's quest for a fourth straight league title is proving so easy that coach Laurent Blanc is already looking ahead to the Champions League game against Chelsea next month.

PSG leads second-place Monaco by 21 points ahead of Saturday's home game against third-place Angers and remains undefeated in the French league since March 15.

Last season, Marseille and Lyon challenged PSG for long spells, and hopes were high that one of those storied sides could do so again. But the league table tells a sorry tale: seven-time champion Lyon and former European Cup winner Marseille both lag 28 points behind.

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PSG is still on course to defend its domestic treble, having qualified for the League Cup semi-finals in midweek, but with no rivals to worry about at home, Blanc's mind is firmly fixed on the home match against Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League on Feb. 16.

For all of PSG's domestic dominance, it has failed to get past the quarterfinal stage in Europe over the past three seasons, and Blanc is under pressure to improve that modest record.

His contract expires at the end of the season, and although he recently expressed optimism that a new deal is close to being agreed, much clearly rides on the Chelsea game.

Therefore, Blanc has taken to complaining about PSG's upcoming schedule, with seven games penciled in before the Chelsea game, including a trip away to bitter rival Marseille, a French Cup match and a home game against Lille all crammed in before the London club's visit to Parc des Princes.

That has prompted Blanc, who is normally tetchy with the French media, to directly ask for their help this week in a bid to pressure the French league to change the schedule.

"One way to solve the problem would be to get knocked out of the Cup competitions, but Paris Saint-Germain can't think that way," Blanc said. "But I hope that the week before (the Chelsea) game will be rearranged."

Blanc would like the Marseille game on Feb. 6 moved forward two days to a Friday. But because the game is the biggest draw in France it will be almost impossible to shift it from the typical Sunday night slot.

"I'm acting a bit like PSG's spokesman, but I hope it's taken into consideration," Blanc said.

Here are some other things to know about the French league:


As well as a congested schedule, PSG coach Laurent Blanc has personnel problems to deal with as reserve goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu and striker Edinson Cavani are both reportedly unhappy.

Sirigu has dropped to the bench since Kevin Trapp joined this season and has played just one league game this campaign, despite some high-profile errors from Trapp.

Although Sirigu has remained stoic, his agent has spoken of how the goalkeeper feels Blanc has not given him a chance, especially considering Trapp has made four big mistakes already this season.

Blanc recently acknowledged that senior players had met with the club's management to discuss how some players reportedly unhappy with Cavani's attitude.

Because Zlatan Ibrahimovic always plays at center forward, it means Cavani is pushed out to a less favored position on the wing and the Uruguayan forward hankers for a return to a No. 9 role.

That has prompted media speculation that Manchester United is keen on signing Cavani.

But should PSG sell him, it would have no top-class forward should Ibrahimovic get injured.


When Gazelec Ajaccio gained promotion to the first division, most observers would have tipped the small Corsican club to struggle this season.

So often in the shadow of the island's other club, AC Ajaccio, the roles have been reversed.

Gazelec is nestled in 13th place in the first division, while AC Ajaccio is just above the relegation zone in the second division.

Not only that, but Gazelec is stringing together an impressive run of form, and Tuesday's 3-0 home win against Guingamp in the French Cup at the 8,000-capacity Ange-Casanova stadium was its ninth game without defeat.

After netting five goals in three games, striker Khalid Boutaib will be keen to keep his scoring run going away to Rennes on Friday night.


If the French league was judged on home form, Marseille would find itself just one point above the relegation zone in 17th place.

Spanish coach Michel's side has an unenviable record at Stade Velodrome, winning just two of 11 games so far. Only Rennes, Toulouse and Troyes have done worse.

Marseille beat Montpellier 2-0 at home on Wednesday night in the French Cup, its first home win in any competition since a Europa League win against Dutch side Groningen Nov. 26.

But the club's last league win at home was against Corsican side Bastia way back on Sept. 13.

- AP


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