Ahead of our Champions League quarter-final first leg against French champions Paris Saint-Germain, I interviewed PSG supporter and blogger Matt who writes on the excellent PSG Tourist blog and he gave me the inside track on Laurent Blanc’s team.
Q: How long have you been supporting PSG, and what’s your favourite memory of following Les Parisiens?
Matt: I’ve been a PSG fan since 2004, my first visit to the Parc des Princes was in August that year for a 2-2 draw with Caen. Obviously things have changed quite a lot at the club since then. As memories go, last season’s league title was pretty good, but beating Marseille is always a highlight, and my favourite PSG match was a 4-2 win at the Velodrome in 2008.
Q: For anyone who doesn’t follow Ligue 1, how would you sum up PSG’s season to date?
Matt: I’d say it’s gone better than most people expected. The summer was a bit of a shambles, with roughly 1,545,251 managers turning us down before Laurent Blanc was appointed. Blanc wasn’t a popular choice with many supporters due to his Marseille connections, but he’s got the team playing a brand of football which is much more pleasing on the eye than that served up by his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti. With just one league defeat all season, the title is looking done and dusted, we’re in the final of the Coupe de la Ligue and obviously things are going well in the Champions League too.
Q: How has your Champions League campaign been so far?
Matt: PSG were in a fairly weak group, and for the most part they strolled through, even if scorelines in a couple of the matches were a bit flattering. The last-16 tie with Bayer Leverkusen was over by half-time in the first leg (PSG were 3-0 up), so it’s fair to say Chelsea represent the first meaningful test for this team in the competition. No complaints so far though.
Q: What are the strengths of this PSG team, and are there any weaknesses Chelsea could exploit?
Matt: Although Ibrahimovic and Cavani get all the headlines, the strength of the team is the midfield trio. Thiago Motta provides the link between the back four and the front players, breaking up play and doing all the unsung work. Marco Verratti’s confidence and passing ability – if not his fiery temperament – mark him out as a star of the future, while Blaise Matuidi has phenomenal energy and is surely one of the best all-round midfielders in Europe at the moment. Few teams have won a midfield battle with PSG this season, so Chelsea will have a tough task to stop them.
In terms of weaknesses, right-back is probably an area you can target. Greg van der Wiel has been in good form this season, but a knee injury looks set to keep him out, and his replacement, Christophe Jallet, isn’t up to the same standard. Also, Alex is likely to play, and his ageing legs can be exposed by pacey, tricky, forwards.
Q: What was your reaction when you heard PSG had drawn Chelsea?
Matt: I was happy to have avoided Bayern and Real Madrid! I think it’s intriguing tie because, from what I’ve seen of Chelsea this season, I consider the teams to be very evenly matched. And obviously it’s always fun to come up against Jose Mourinho!
Q: What sort of game are you expecting from Chelsea?
Matt: I imagine they’ll try and do to PSG what they did to Manchester City at the Etihad; soak up pressure and counter-attack with pace. PSG have been frustrated by a few teams who have played like that over the last couple of seasons, and I’m pleased that Matic isn’t available as he seems like an ideal player for this type of situation.
Q: Score predicitions
Matt: Not many teams have stopped PSG from scoring this season. I’ll go PSG 2-1 Chelsea in the first leg, with a 1-1 draw at the Bridge seeing Blanc’s men into the semi-finals.
sorry guys I am bit off topic here
Can you imagine the amount of whinging in press if it was Chelsea
Interesting to see Mourinho go with Schurrle as his ‘striker’ anything is better that Torres given his performance against Palace.
Ohhhh Terry, Terry….
second half started sloppy in defense WTF. Terry is looking at Lavezzi like it is first time he sees tall player.
and here we are Luiz scores….
At last he’s said it. We’ve been playing with 10 men when Nando’s been on the pitch…..
“I’m not happy with my strikers’ performances, so I have to try things.
And with André at least I know we have one more player to have the ball,
one more player to associate with the other players, and even if he is
not dangerous because he’s not a striker, he can associate and the team
can have control of the ball possession like we had”.
Pray that Eto’o is fit for the return, that Cech (Thibaut must be No.1 next year) watches his near post and that David Luiz turns into Matic.
Jose is becoming a Serial failure in making decent ,well thought substitutions,what was he thinking when he introduced Torres? does he want to assemble his own team or is it a matter of pride?. I thought we had the league wrapped up before Jose started these silly ‘mind games’ maybe Jose is on a self destruct mode and his Madrid past seems to be the architect of this terror act.
It’s obvious when we have so many attempts at goal in so many matches that the strikers are not doing their job and not good enough to break down defensive teams either. that means the startegy is good because our midfield is creating the chances, however it relies on strikers to also do their job and they’re not. So Mourinhio is doing his job fine. In fact yesterday for a lot of the first half after PSG’s opening goal we had them pinned back and Hazard had an off the post shot which could have gone in. the second goal was an own goal. Luiz could as easily kicked it out but didnt because of his ball control when he hit the ball. PSG’s defence when we put them under pressure was not that good it was there for all to see. i think we can get a 2-0 at the bridge if we go at them aggresivley from the first same as we did with Barca in the 2nd leg back in 2005. physcology also plays a part. if we can get the first goal i’ll bet they will get nervous and sit deep trying to defend but they dont have the players to do that for most of the match. Canavi did very little so did Ibra who is out for 2nd leg. As was mentioned by a few journos they looked more like a collection of players than a team and with our support at the bridge i can see them not holding the lead. On Chelsea, Some of our individual performances at times were not up to scratch. Example, when Pastore went on his run long before he got in the box where was the interception from anyone? anyone at all? even if had been a professional foul with a yellow? Oscar, getting pushed off the ball like a feather in so many matches and last night. Torres, another possible shot on goal, fluffed, yet again. Also, our aspirations this year, in the leauge, City added another 100 million of stikers to their already huge talent, and its only because of their manager they’ve not won it but Chelsea were never favourites for the leage yet with everything look where we are today compared to last year or the year before. That’s advancement for the team and due to Jose, 100% . We were never contenders this year! The Champions league, has anybody seen the stats on Madrid, Bayern, PSG, or even Barca or even what Atheltico Madrid are doing and where they are today? We were outsiders from the begiining of January once they all started to gel better. And lastly, if we had Aguero and or Cavaini, Ibra, Suarez etc or any two decent stikers in our team would anybody not already be celebtrating the PL already? of course we would, so thats down to the change of manager and the fact we are still at this competing for the two most important titles is because of Jose Mourinho. And lastly, nothing is over yet for the league or the CL even if it means needing a bit of luck, but hey, we’ve had plenty of that before….
Luck is definitely what we need right now
As someone who supported when Peters Osgood and Bonetti were achieving cult status at the club, it pains to say that our latest, and possibly greatest, Petr may have hit the slide. He’s only 31, which should signal a few more seasons as our number One, but I’m no longer sure.
We’re back to blaming strikers again, don’t like pointing at individuals, but as we’re already doing that, this is what I saw.
A weakish defensive header was roundly punished with a exceptional finish for their first, but at 1-1 we were still coasting to a great result, what happened thereafter had nothing to do with our forwards.
How Petr let their cross go past him at waist height, only he knows, and why DL was attacking our goal only he can explain, but the ball should never have reached him, in any case.
When Pastore jigged into our box for their third, I thought the guys were right not to risk a last minute lunge, so when he was restricted to shooting to the near post, only Petr can explain why he tried to get his substantial frame down when a big boot was all that was needed, something which he’s done many times over the years.
And this is the rub for me.
We’re more than capable of putting two or three past them at the Bridge, question is whether we can keep a clean sheet while doing so.
There was a piece in today’s Grauniad about Courtois. They seemed to think that the most likely scenario is that Atletico will get to keep him for another year, but it’ll be interesting to see whether he gets to compete with Big Pete for the starting job this summer.
I only really see the home games but in my eyes Pete has had a terrific season. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt Courtois is the future, unless FFP makes it too tempting to sell him for the 30-40 million we’d probably be offered.
I watched the first half of yesterday’s game and thought that we looked at least as good as them (though they’re an impressive team, no doubt). But I also get the impression some of our players are running on fumes.
This weekend could be a bit nervy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ba in against Stoke. A big motivated centre forward might make life that bit easier when the attacking midfielders are low on confidence and high on exhaustion.
Are there any more Torres holdovers left in the Chelsea camp in 2014? Can he come good? Does he need a run of games? Should we buy Demba Ba so it would be easy for Chelsea fans to take the D-R-O-G off their shirts?
After Crazy Dave’s poacher’s finish against PSG, maybe we should give him a try at leading our attack!
(Only half joking BTW)