Ahead of Tuesday’s Champion’s League clash against Paris Saint-Germain, I spoke to founder of PSG fans website 1970 PSG Ross Mackiewicz, to get his thoughts on the game, PSG, Cheslsea, David Luiz and a score prediction. Here are his words…
PSG are currently sitting in third spot in Ligue 1 and recently drew with Caen, how do you feel the season is going for them currently? What is the fans response currently?
It has been a strange old season to be honest. We are still in all four competitions but we have played nowhere near to our full potential. We have got just over the line with many narrow victories and for a team of this ability, we have been a little too rigid in the final third.
Nevertheless we are already in a cup-final, in the last eight of the Coupe de France too. We had a golden opportunity to go top but unforeseen circumstances against Caen cost us dearly. The fact that we have not been top of Ligue 1 at all this season shows our inconsistency and we can only slip-up so many times. Lyon with Alexandre Lacazette and Marcelo Bielsa’s Marseille are putting our hopes of winning a third straight league title in real jeopardy.
What are the sides current strengths and weaknesses and how do you feel Laurent Blanc is performing?
We can keep the ball for fun in France. We dominate possession and more or less double the passes of the opposing team on a weekly basis. Our counter-attacking play when it is in its element can be frightening. Lucas Moura is pivotal to that but so is Javier Pastore who has been our best attacking outlet. He may not be the quickest but he has the intelligence and technical quality to orchestrate a full blown counter.
Potentially PSG could be without 4-7 players to injury with many of them being key players, how do you think that will affect their chances against Chelsea in the week?
This is a massive blow. The fact that Lucas is one of those who will be out has already weakened our chances as he is so important to us. He is also a big game player so him being out is going to be detrimental. There are doubts over Blaise Matuidi and I worry that if he misses the game, we will miss energy in midfield. He is our engine on the left-hand side of the midfield trio. Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta will control the ball but when we need someone to bomb forward, Matuidi does this to a tee.
The club knows that this is a pretty desperate situation. President Nasser Al-Khelaifi came out and urged the supporters to get right behind the team. Captain Thiago Silva also said something similar post-match. The Parc des Princes needs to be in full voice to help the lads.
How do you rate the general performances of David Luiz this season and how did you react to the signing?
David Luiz is such an infectious character and the PSG fans love him. His performances up until the 3-1 defeat in Barcelona back in December were good. You really could not fault him. But his level in January dipped and we saw mistakes that he was renowned for before signing. But in all honesty, in the last few weeks him and Thiago Silva have been a rock. They have accumulated four clean sheets in the last six games.
What bodes well for the future is that he and Marquinhos were outstanding together when Silva was out injured. Their performance in the 3-2 win over Barcelona last September was stunning.
The transfer fee when he signed rose more than a few eyebrows. Especially because a few days before it was announced we were condemned by UEFA for breaching FFP regulations. Maybe this was a statement of intent from the club. Nevertheless, he is a good player but not a €50m player by any stretch of the imagination.
How do you think PSG will set up against Chelsea this week and what tactics will Blanc be using?
Blanc will make no surprises, 4-3-3 as usual. Edinson Cavani will be on the left-hand side with Zlatan Ibrahimovic of course leading the line. Lucas’ injury means that Ezequiel Lavezzi or Javier Pastore will play in that final wide role. Thiago Motta is apparently suffering from a calf injury but if he is to play he will sit in the middle of a three-man midfield with Marco Verratti to his right and Matuidi to the left. We will have a clearer idea once we get the prognosis of the players that are suffering from knocks.
How do you feel Chelsea have been performing this season and what players have impressed you and why?
It is evident that this is a much sharper, clinical Chelsea to the one that we faced last season and deservedly lead the Premier League. I think Jose Mourinho has stamped his mark again and has built a team that has pretty much everything. Pace, power, quality.
Diego Costa has impressed me the most. There are not many strikers like him in Europe. His tenacity, desire and above all the quality he has in front of goal is exceptional. Eden Hazard, a player we know well having faced him during his Lille days, is getting better and better it seems. He will be the player we are most worried about.
Finally, what score prediction do you have for the game Tuesday night and can PSG progress over the two legs, or are Chelsea going to be too strong?
We need a result in this first-leg, no doubt about it. We need something to take back to the Bridge. We need to learn from the mistakes in the second-leg in particular from last year where we were way too cautious and ultimately got punished in the end by Demba Ba. Laurent Blanc came under intense scrutiny that night so he knows what’s at stake.
It is going to a tight game but I can see Chelsea scoring. I am going to go 2-1 PSG.
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