Saturday, March 25, 2017

Shakhtar Donetsk v Paris Saint-Germain: Blanc to make European glory top priority

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 28 Sep 2015

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Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is ready to sacrifice domestic cup success in favour of Champions League glory as they prepare for Wednesday’s Group A match versus Shakhtar Donetsk.

French champions PSG celebrated a domestic quadruple in 2014-15, but failed to impress on the European stage as Barcelona proved too strong in the quarter-finals.

Blanc is determined to go all the way this time around, though, and will be looking to build on his side’s 2-0 matchday-one win over Malmo with another three points in L’viv.

“There’s no blueprint that gives you the guarantee of going a long way in the Champions League,” Blanc said.

“I think what’s important is to try to have your key players available in April and May. We’re going to try and control some things in terms of training, in terms of the workload and in terms of rotation for matches because there will be a lot of them.

“The calendar for the national cup competitions is catastrophic for the Champions League. So we might let one of the two domestic cups go.”

Blanc has reasons to feel confident going into Wednesday’s encounter as PSG have won seven of their 10 games versus Ukrainian sides.

Blanc will probably have to make do without the services of the injured Gregory van der Wiel, but fellow right-back Serge Aurier returns from suspension.

Shakhtar, meanwhile, also have reasons for optimism ahead of the match.

Mircea Lucescu’s men have only lost one of their last eight home games in the Champions League, against Athletic Bilbao in November 2014, winning five and drawing the other two. 

It is not all good news for Shakhtar, however, as they have failed to score in their three Champions League games played in 2015, their longest run without a goal in the competition.

Alex Teixeira could be the man to end that drought as the Brazilian has been in sublime form in recent weeks, scoring seven goals in Shahktar’s last four league games, including a last-minute winner in their dramatic 3-2 victory over local rivals Olimpik Donetsk on Saturday.

Shakhtar will be without Taras Stepanenko, with the midfielder banned after he was sent off in their 4-0 defeat at Real Madrid on matchday one. 

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