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PSG chase first win as Lille christen new home
Published : 19 Aug 2012 08:16:55Rss feed
Paris Saint-Germain head to Corsica to face Ajaccio on Sunday looking to register their first win of the new campaign after having to settle for a point against Lorient in their season-opener last weekend.
Carlo Ancelotti's side have grabbed all the summer headlines and were seen as certain champions before a ball had even been kicked, but they looked anything but nailed-on title favourites for the first 45 minutes against Lorient before debutante Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to earn a 2-2 draw and spare blushes at the Parc des Princes.
Even this early into his PSG career, Ibrahimovic's presence is vital.
"Zlatan is a great player. He has just arrived and is already behaving like one of the leaders," said midfielder Clement Chantome with a sense of awe this week.
"He helped us get back into the game against Lorient and some of the things he does in training are superb. Having him here is clearly a major plus, less so for opposition defences."
The capital club are hoping that the Swede will recover from an ankle injury that kept him out of his country's midweek friendly defeat to Brazil to make the game on the Mediterranean island.
But Chantome added that there can be no excuse for dropping more points this weekend.
"With the new dimension that this club has taken on, we are now obliged to win every game," he said.
"We are still learning how to play together, but the signs were there in the second half against Lorient that we are getting there."
Opponents Ajaccio won at Nice last Saturday to move on to one point after beginning the campaign with minus two as a punishment for trouble at their final home match of last season.
And the islanders have made headlines this week with their pursuit of controversial Romanian striker Adrian Mutu.
The former Juventus and Chelsea player, who was sacked by the London club in 2004 after testing positive for cocaine, has agreed terms with Ajaccio but his proposed transfer from Serie B outfit Cesena will not be completed before the visit of PSG.
Lille, seen by many as the best bet to challenge PSG in this season's Ligue 1 title race, play their first game in their impressive new home when they face Nancy on Friday evening.
There will be a sell-out crowd of just over 50,000 at the Grand Stade, almost treble their average attendance at their old home and a clear sign of the northern club's potential.
"The new stadium has helped us bring in new players," says coach Rudi Garcia, who has been able to attract France playmaker Marvin Martin and former Chelsea winger Salomon Kalou this summer.
"From speaking to the likes of Kalou and Martin I know that the new stadium had a major impact in their decision."
"For the opposition, coming here and playing in front of at least 40,000 Lille fans, I think that will have an impact on them. It could be an extra asset for us."
After coming so close to beating PSG at the Parc des Princes on the opening day for the second year running, Lorient entertain champions Montpellier on their artificial surface in Brittany.
Montpellier -- who lost in Lorient en route to their stunning title triumph last season -- will again be without injured duo Anthony Mounier and Younes Belhanda, as well as the suspended Jamel Saihi and Marco Estrada.
Lyon, who have agreed a deal to sign Serbia defender Milan Bisevac from PSG, will hope to make it two wins out of two when they play host to promoted Troyes, while Marseille are in action at home to Sochaux and Bordeaux face Rennes on Sunday.
Fixtures (all kick-off times GMT)
Lille v Nancy (1845)
Lyon v Troyes (1500), Bastia v Reims, Brest v Evian, Lorient v Montpellier, Toulouse v Saint-Etienne, Valenciennes v Nice (all 1800)
Bordeaux v Rennes, Marseille v Sochaux (both 1500), Ajaccio v Paris Saint-Germain (1900)
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