Laurent Blanc warns PSG players to keep their cool against Chelsea

‘I know Jose Mourinho a bit, and I know he’ll raise the temperature on the pitch in this game’

Paris St Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring a goal against Caen  at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

Paris St Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring a goal against Caen at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

 

PSG v Chelsea, Tuesday 7.45pm, On TV: 7.30pm (TV3, UTV)

Paris St Germain manager Laurent Blanc has warned his players Jose Mourinho will seek to “raise the temperature on the pitch” when Chelsea visit Parc des Princes on Tuesday, and urged them to remain calm and not react to any provocation.

The French champions, who will have to contend with Diego Costa as the Brazilian-born forward returns after a three-match domestic suspension, are severely undermined by injury problems ahead of the first leg of the Champions League knockout tie. Blanc is definitely without Serge Aurier, Lucas Moura and Yohan Cabaye for the repeat of last year’s quarter-final between the clubs, with Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta and Marquinhos all to be assessed in training on Monday evening.

That trio, at best, will face late fitness tests before the game and the potential absence of so many experienced players will place more pressure on the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic – whose booking for removing his shirt after scoring against Caen on Saturday drew criticism from Blanc – Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marco Verratti.

The PSG coach was asked specifically about the young Italian, whose temperament has been suspect in the past. “With him, it’s about how he controls his temper and manages himself,” said Blanc of Verratti. “He has to show he has improved on that level.

“I know Jose Mourinho a bit, and I know he’ll raise the temperature on the pitch in this game. So my players need to be cold, they need to be calm, and they mustn’t react even when it is hot out there on the turf. They must stay calm and cold. We can’t afford any more yellow cards. It’s a real test for Marco, but I think he has matured and will cope with it.”

Blanc described the wasteful 2-2 draw with Caen as “a catastrophe” and begrudgingly accepted criticism for a performance which left PSG still trailing Lyon in the domestic title race. “Every time something happens I’m responsible for it,” he said.

Ibrahimovic had opened the scoring in that game and, in a bid to raise awareness for the United Nations’ World Food Program, removed his shirt to draw attention to 15 removable tattoos on his torso naming people who are suffering from hunger in the world.

The Swedish striker was booked as a result and will miss the forthcoming league game against Monaco. “I knew about the project but not the tattoos,” said Blanc, whose side ended with nine men after the flurry of injuries struck with his substitutions all spent. “I knew something was planned at the end of the game, but I didn’t know more. He scored very early on, took off his shirt and was booked. It was good to promote the association, obviously, but it did cost us a yellow card.

“Imagine if he’d got another yellow card after 20 minutes? We may as well have abandoned the game in the 70th minute because we would have been down to seven men. It is a good initiative, but I don’t know whether him taking his shirt off was good for us. I hope that, tomorrow, if he scores he doesn’t take the shirt off because he will be booked again.”

David Luiz, who moved to Paris from Chelsea in a €50m deal last summer, admitted he would not celebrate if he scored at Parc des Princes “out of respect” for his former club. The Brazil centre-half scored an own goal in the London club’s 3-1 loss at the arena last season – they won the home leg 2-0 to progress courtesy of Eden Hazard’s away goal – and admitted his new team face an even stronger line-up this time round.

“Chelsea are stronger this year,” he said. “They understood more the philosophy of Mourinho, and it’s easier to pass on the message in the second year of work. They have two or three players more joining with amazing quality, like (Cesc) Fabregas and Diego (Costa). They are stronger this year. These things are decided on small details. Chelsea have won European titles, but the plan for PSG is to be the best club in the world in a few years. In the game itself, there won’t be a gap. You have two amazing teams, good players and two amazing coaches. We need to prove how far we have come on the pitch since last year.”

Guardian Service

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