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Mitroglou the threat to unbeaten PSG

26 Nov 2013 01:16:53

Mitroglou the threat to unbeaten PSG

After failing to get the job done in their last group game, Paris Saint-Germain will seek the draw required to qualify for the Champions League last 16 when they host a Kostas Mitroglou-inspired Olympiakos on Wednesday.

PSG come into their penultimate match in Group C three points clear of the Greek champions and six ahead of Benfica in third.

They might already have progressed into the knockout stage had they not been held to a 1-1 draw at home by Anderlecht at the beginning of the month, but one more point at the Parc des Princes will mean they are certain to finish in first place.

That should, in theory, mean an easier tie in the last 16 and will also allow coach Laurent Blanc to rest players for the final group game in Lisbon next month as the Ligue 1 title-holders try to maintain challenges on all fronts.

PSG are top of Ligue 1 and unbeaten this season after a 3-0 victory on Saturday at Reims, the scene of their last defeat over 90 minutes way back in early March, 34 games ago.

That set them up nicely for a busy run of fixtures prior to the winter break, and now they are looking forward to a rematch with Olympiakos, whom they beat 4-1 in Piraeus in September.

"It was the best way to prepare for the match against Olympiakos and a good start to a series of nine games before Christmas," said France midfielder Blaise Matuidi. "It was another step forward for us and we are only focusing on ourselves.

"If we can keep playing with the same commitment and concentration it will be difficult for any team to beat us."

Of their unbeaten sequence, Blanc added: "Some people look at us and hope we'll trip up, which of course has to happen sooner or later. But we're making sure that our unbeaten run continues as long as possible. As a coach you have to appreciate periods like this one."

Olympiakos are potentially dangerous opponents for PSG though. They have recovered from that defeat in the reverse fixture to beat Anderlecht 3-0 in Brussels and then take four points from a possible six against Benfica. As a result, they are favourites to go through with PSG.

Under Spanish coach Michel, they have dropped just two points in the Greek Super League this season, conceding a miserly four goals in 12 games. Greece's richest and most successful club have several players who are familiar with PSG having previously been based in France, but the man to look out for is 25-year-old Mitroglou.

The bearded striker's statistics make for impressive reading. Scorer of three goals in Greece's recent World Cup play-off tie against Romania, he struck a hat-trick against Anderlecht last month and has 14 goals in 10 domestic league games.

He returns to the squad here to provide the firepower for the visitors in the French capital after being rested for the 4-1 victory at Panthrakikos on Saturday. However, PSG have no shortage of quality in attack - Zlatan Ibrahimovic has netted 17 times in his last 11 games for club and country and Edinson Cavani will return after being rested at the weekend.

Dimitris Siovas and Jose Holebas also return for the visitors, who have won in France in each of the last two seasons, beating Marseille in November 2011 and Montpellier in October last year, but Michel will know that this PSG side are a different proposition altogether.

Olympiakos need to win to maintain a chance of topping the group but could also qualify on Wednesday if the result in the night's other game in Brussels goes in their favour.


AFP

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