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Winless PSG still awaiting take-off
Published : 20 Aug 2012 17:16:56Rss feed
Held by modest Lorient and Ajaccio in their first two matches, Paris Saint-Germain have started the season in a way that scarcely reflects the huge close-season investment that made them favourites for the Ligue 1 title.
After a 2-2 draw at home to Lorient on the opening day, PSG drew 0-0 at Ajaccio on Sunday and questions are already starting to be asked about their capacity to cope with the huge level of expectation that their spending has generated.
With Ezequiel Lavezzi sent off for a dangerous foul on Ajaccio's Andre and coach Carlo Ancelotti sent from the dug-out for kicking a water bottle onto the pitch, PSG appeared to lose their cool in Corsica on Sunday night.
Their status means they will face extremely motivated opponents at every turn and with victory expected in every match due to the strength of their squad, the club are already experiencing the downside of being the team that everyone wants to beat.
"It won't be easy," said midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
"Everyone sees us as champions but the truth is on the pitch. They'll be waiting for us everywhere and every team will give 100 or 120 percent against us."
Ancelotti lamented what he saw as "complacency" from his team against Ajaccio and with PSG's Qatari owners expecting to win the Ligue 1 title this season, the club's players cannot afford to take their feet off the gas.
PSG may have been without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Thiago Motta and Mohamed Sissoko on Sunday but it is an excuse that only stretches so far.
Nursing a foot injury, Ibrahimovic may not be ready in time for Sunday's visit of Bordeaux but it is already clear that PSG are a very different team when the Swede is named in the starting line-up.
The return to a striker-less 4-3-3 system against Ajaccio was not a triumph and either Lavezzi, Nene or Jeremy Menez will probably have to make room when Ibrahimovic returns.
Nene has made a solid start to the season despite uncertainty over his future at the club but Lavezzi has failed to impress since arriving from Napoli and could now miss more than one game due to suspension.
PSG are particularly blessed with talent in midfield but Javier Pastore's performance in a withdrawn role against Ajaccio was not convincing.
Ancelotti believes that Motta's return from a thigh problem with help to improve "the quality of the team", while 19-year-old Italian Marco Verratti has impressed each time he has played and looks ready for a starting role already.
Thiago Silva is still to make his debut, having only recently returned from Olympic duty with Brazil but his integration into the starting XI will push either Alex or Mamadou Sakho onto the bench.
Whilst there is no need to panic after only two games, victory over Bordeaux on Sunday would help to dissipate some of the doubts at a time when PSG's schedule is set to get heavier.
However, Bordeaux have a good record at Parc des Princes, having picked up at least a point there in four of their last six visits and PSG's following assignment is a trip to Lille, who look destined to be their biggest rivals for the title.
After a home game with Toulouse, it will already be time for PSG to start thinking about the Champions League.
They would prefer to embark on their European campaign in a better position than 12th place, which is where they reluctantly find themselves at present.
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