Two days ahead of the trip to Paris, the OL manager discusses this traditionally big L1 fixture. On Sunday, his players will face a rejuvenated PSG outfit. He recognises that there is an element of the unknown in the match and that, “We’ll have to be on top of our game.”
The pace will really pick up after Paris, because we will have had 4 days to recover between the Stuttgart and Paris matches. On the other hand, after Sunday we will play 5 matches in 11 days. We’ll have to use everyone in order to keep the side fresh. This morning’s tactical session focused on the defensive problems we encountered against VfB.
What needed improvement?
I won’t say, but they had to do with communication, especially with the foreigners. You have to be sure you’ve been understood when you’re on the pitch. Those are the kinds of things you fix from one match to another.
How are you approaching this match at the Parc des Princes?
We know they’ll be waiting for us. Freshness could be an issue for us. We don’t know what team PSG will field. They’ve had a bad start to the season. A new order is being put in place there, new competition for places, with a lot of youngsters arriving on the scene with a lot to prove. We just need to keep the ball rolling after Stuttgart and Monaco. We need to stay solid and wait for the right moment. For me, it’s like a Cup game, which is great, as it’s a chance to get even more competitive.
Does the uncertainty about the PSG line up make your preparation more difficult?
No, because really we’re just looking to play our own game, get ourselves solid. Whoever the opposition may be, we have to be able to stay solid in defence, as we have done in our last few matches. Up against the verve and enthusiasm of their youngsters, we’ll really have to be at our best.
Were you surprised to see so many young players in the PSG side last weekend?
I don’t know enough about the PSG squad. Sure, some players are looking to make a name for themselves, but Paul (le Guen) isn’t crazy. If he has faith in these players, it’s because he’s seen since the start of the season that they can mix it with the first team, which hasn’t been getting results. It makes sense if you have a lot of good young players and a poor league ranking. That’s how competition in a squad works and it shows that the side is looking to get better. Their manager is looking for effective players, and we have to watch out.
What does that change in your approach to the match?
The problem is that our players haven’t heard of their direct opponent for the evening, so they don’t know what to expect. So there will be an X factor in the match. Videos will be important, but you need a direct confrontation to really size someone up.
You spoke about freshness. Should we expect the squad to be rotated in the next few matches?
We will need to rotate but we’ll see when and how. Between Stuttgart and Paris, we have 4 days’ recovery. The only question mark is over Fabio Grosso, who took a big knock on the foot. First we thought it was a fracture but it was just a big haematoma, meaning he couldn’t train today. We’ve 48 hours to get him right. But if he misses this match, he’ll be ready for Caen.
One week ago, Fred wasn’t ready to return to action. Could he start at the Parc on Sunday?
I’m thinking about it. We’ll take stock with Karim (Benzema) tomorrow to see whether he needs a breather. He may need a break, and Fred needs game time.