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PSG obliged to crash Lille house-warming party
Published : 02 Sep 2012 03:47:34
If misfiring Paris Saint-Germain are to register a first victory of the season this weekend, they must overcome a Lille side emboldened by their qualification for the Champions League group phase.
After three games, PSG are already six points behind early pace-setters Marseille, following three straight draws against Lorient, Ajaccio and Bordeaux.
It is far from ideal preparation for Sunday's trip to Lille, which was always going to be one of PSG's toughest away fixtures, even without the added pressure generated by their disappointing start to the Ligue 1 campaign.
Lille, deposed as champions by Montpellier last season, have only just moved into the Grand Stade but the 50,000-seater arena will feel that bit more homely following Wednesday's 2-0 win over FC Copenhagen in the Champions League play-off round.
The success gave Lille a 2-1 aggregate win, taking them into the competition's group stage and blowing away the doubts that had crept into the club following their 1-0 loss to the Danes in last week's first leg.
"I said that this would be the baptism of the Grand Stade, and I wasn't mistaken," said coach Rudi Garcia after Wednesday's game.
"We're going to have dinner together but from tomorrow (Thursday), our minds will already start turning towards PSG's visit on Sunday."
Lille's 2-2 draw at Nice last weekend left them in eighth place in the table, four points below Marseille.
While the 2011 champions are not yet firing on all cylinders domestically, the need for improvement is far more pressing at PSG.
Despite around 140 million euros ($175 million) having been invested in new players in the summer, Carlo Ancelotti's men have flattered to deceive in their first three outings.
Last Sunday's 0-0 draw with Bordeaux at Parc des Princes was particularly frustrating, with jeers greeting the final whistle and L'Equipe sports daily branding Ancelotti a "broken down coach" in a subsequent edition.
"Our ambition is to win everything," centre-back Alex told the club website, psg.fr, this week. "During pre-season we worked a lot in order to achieve this objective. We'll give everything for it.
"We've not had the best start possible, but we have the time to catch up and improve the situation."
Ancelotti could hand a debut to new signing Thiago Silva against Lille and if he does, he must choose whether it is Alex or Mamadou Sakho who makes way in central defence.
PSG's problems are nonetheless eclipsed by those affecting defending champions Montpellier, who have picked up just a single point from their first three matches.
The one consolation they have is that Saturday's opponents, Sochaux, are the only team in the division yet to register a point.
"We've had a difficult start to the season and we have to try to repair that," said coach Rene Girard after last weekend's 1-0 loss at home to Marseille.
OM are the only side with a 100 percent record so far and on Sunday they host a Rennes team who got off the mark for the campaign with a 3-2 win at home to Bastia last weekend.
Bordeaux v Nice (1200GMT), Marseille v Rennes (1500GMT), Lille v Paris Saint-Germain (1900GMT)