Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) coach Laurent Blanc knows it will be difficult for his team to hit the ground running as they begin the defence of their Ligue 1 title away to Reims on Friday.
The capital club are odds-on favourites to win a third consecutive French crown and go to the Stade Auguste-Delaune fresh from defeating Guingamp 2-0 in Beijing last weekend in the season-opening Champions Trophy.
However, a quartet of key players will not be involved in Champagne country having only just started pre-season training after a post-World Cup holiday.
None of Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi or Brazil trio Thiago Silva, Maxwell and new signing David Luiz will be considered for selection against Reims as a result.
“This month is going to be strange because we have so many players coming back at different times and not everyone is in the same physical condition,” admitted Blanc.
“We have done a lot of tiring physical work. The games in August will be difficult but we are not worried.”
Reims, who finished 11th last season, have a new coach, with Jean-Luc Vasseur replacing Hubert Fournier, who has taken over at Lyon.
It is quite the baptism of fire for Vasseur, 45, who arrives from Ligue 2 Creteil and takes charge of a top-flight game for the first time against the club where he started his playing career.
“It is symbolic but I am thinking more than anything about my players and taking the club forward,” said Vasseur.
Meanwhile, PSG have ended talks with Real Madrid on buying Angel di Maria because the Argentina midfielder is too expensive, the president of the Ligue 1 champions was quoted as saying on Thursday.
PSG had discussed a bid for Di Maria, whom Spanish media have reported has a price tag of around $100.33 million, with European champions Real, said PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
“But it was too expensive and we ended the talks,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2014.
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