Dont believe the hype, Blanc tells PSG players
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc admitted that recent hype surrounding his side's performances might have been to blame for a mediocre display in Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Anderlecht.
The Ligue 1 leaders would have been sure of their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a win against the Belgians, but instead they are left needing just a point from their final matches at home to Olympiakos and away to Benfica in order to qualify from Group C.
The result meant that PSG remain unbeaten in all competitions this season and have not lost over 90 minutes in 32 games since early March, but it should also calm some of the euphoria amongst certain members of the local media and fans after some stunning recent displays, including the sensational 5-0 win against Anderlecht in Brussels last month.
"We the staff try to prepare the players to win. But there are people around who are saying: 'How many goals are you going to score against Anderlecht etc?' so maybe subconsciously they think that all they need to do is step on the pitch to win the game," said Blanc, who saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic cancel out Demy de Zeeuw's opener, with the goals coming just two minutes apart in the second half in the French capital.
"We can't do anything if people say that we are playing brilliantly. In my pre-match press conference I said that this was our most important match in the group and everyone had a smile on their face, but it was the truth.
"You (journalists) do your job and you do it quite well because you give out praise when a team is playing well. But we need to be wary of that because you win games on the pitch, not before the match has started.
"If we listen to everything that is being said about us just now, all we need to do is turn up to win. And what do our opponents do? That gives them more motivation."
The 47-year-old Blanc accepted that the absence of injured record signing Edinson Cavani might have been partly responsible for his team's lack of a killer touch against an Anderlecht side that ended the match with 10 men after the sending-off of Sacha Kljestan late on.
But he felt that the visitors fully deserved what was their first point in the group.
"Paris were too average to win the game. That is the reality. But I think Anderlecht were brave, well organised, and deserved the result, while we were too average. We had six or seven chances but it is difficult to score goals, even against a supposedly weaker side.
"Now the next game is decisive, just as tonight's was. But we are in a good position," he added, ahead of the meeting at the end of the month with the Greek champions, who beat Benfica 1-0 in the night's other game to go clear in second place.
Meanwhile, Anderlecht coach John Van den Brom was full of praise for his side after they showed great spirit to bounce back from losing their opening three games in Europe this season and keep their admittedly slim chances of qualifying alive for now.
"It was a very nice surprise. We showed great spirit," said the Dutchman. "I am very proud of my players after the criticism received recently.
"The last game against PSG was one we needed to move on from. We played well against Olympiakos but got a negative result.
"The team showed that they deserve their place in this competition. I am very satisfied with the performance."
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