Blanc warns PSG against overconfidence

 05 Apr 2016 - 16:48

Blanc warns PSG against overconfidence
Paris St Germain's coach Laurent Blanc attends a news conference on the eve of their UEFA Champions League soccer match against Manchester City. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Paris: Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc has warned his much-fancied side that they must not be overconfident heading into the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. 

The French champions are looking to reach the semi-finals of this competition for the first time in two decades but this is their fourth season running in the last eight, while City have never before been at this stage. 

That has led many observers to give a polished PSG side, deserved winners against Chelsea in the last 16, the label of favourites to beat Manuel Pellegrini's men after they were relieved to avoid being drawn against Barcelona, regular rivals in Europe in recent seasons. 

"All the little details are important in ties like these and the experience we have accumulated in the last few years could play a part," Blanc told a press conference at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday. 

"What I see is that when the draw was made, everyone, including us, was satisfied to avoid the two ogres of European football at the moment in Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

"You could maybe include Real Madrid in that, so once we avoided these three teams I feel like the media and all the supporters thought, well it's an easy draw, but it is absolutely not. 

"The players mustn't listen to anyone saying that because those people don't understand anything about football. 

"City's project is sort of parallel to ours. They have talented players in every area, great quality and quantity of players." 

Those similar projects that Blanc talks about have seen extremely rich Middle Eastern investors come into both clubs in recent seasons, transforming them from also-rans into leading forces at home and abroad. 

Qatar-owned PSG have become France's dominant club and made rapid progress abroad since being taken over in 2011, while City have won just two Premier League titles since being bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 and have toiled at times in Europe. 

That led City's French midfielder Samir Nasri -- once of Marseille and who endured a difficult relationship with Blanc when he was in charge of France -- to question how PSG would cope playing in the Premier League rather than in the less competitive environment of Ligue 1.

Blanc, however, insists the intensity of English football does not give the country's clubs an advantage in Europe. 

"Even in France people wonder whether Ligue 1 does us no favours," admitted Blanc. "Intensity is not everything. The English are so intense that they play a lot. They get to February, March, April or May and they are tired. 

"We play in a different league because we are obliged to, and we want to, but if the English have a very competitive league it doesn't mean they have any guarantees of going far in Europe." 

Di Maria fit

PSG's own prospects are not helped by the absence due to injury of influential Italian midfielder Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore, but former Manchester United star Angel Di Maria is fit after picking up a knock playing for Argentina last week and missing Saturday's 4-1 win against Nice.

City travel fresh from a 4-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday in which Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne scored on his return after injury.

Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini must decide whether to keep De Bruyne in his line-up in the French capital, while Yaya Toure has a heel injury and Raheem Sterling and Vincent Kompany are also on the sidelines.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart, who has had a calf problem, trained on Tuesday though and PSG will have to find a way of stopping City's star man Sergio Aguero.

"Kun is a magnificent player," said PSG defender Maxwell. "He has so many qualities and is like Romario was for Brazil, small and strong.

"We need to make sure he doesn't have space in which to make the difference."

AFP