One of the smallest clubs ever to play in France’s top flight could be in for a rude awakening tomorrow when Corsican minnows Gazelec Ajaccio face Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.
PSG began their quest for a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title with a 1-0 victory at LOSC Lille Metropole last weekend, despite playing more than an hour with 10 men following Adrien Rabiot’s sending-off.
Laurent Blanc’s side will now be looking for a 15th successive win in the domestic competition when they entertain newly promoted Gazelec in the capital.
Gazelec, appearing in the top flight for the first time in their history after winning back-to-back promotions, had a gentle introduction to life in Ligue 1 when they drew 0-0 against fellow new boys ESTAC Troyes last weekend.
However, they are being thrown in at the deep end against PSG in what, on paper at least, is one of the biggest mismatches ever seen in a major European league.
While Qatar-backed PSG boast a budget for this season of about 490 million euros (US$546 million) and last week signed Angel di Maria from Manchester United for 63 million euros, Gazelec’s budget is reported to be about 13.8 million euros.
That alone is less than the annual salary of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The biggest name in the islanders’ squad is probably Djokovic, although that is the Croatian-born, Dutch-raised midfielder Damjan Djokovic, not the tennis superstar Novak.
PSG skipper Thiago Silva said: “It is going to be a difficult match, because we don’t know much about this team. They might cause us problems, but if we are as focused as we were against Lille, we should be fine.”
“It is difficult for any team to come and play against us at the Parc,” Silva added, with a nod to PSG’s record of not having lost at home in the league since May last year.
However, PSG have Ibrahimovic on the sidelines with a knee problem, while Di Maria is not yet ready to make his debut, although he is set to be unveiled to the home fans.
Last season’s runners-up Olympique Lyonnais responded to a frustrating opening 0-0 draw against Lorient by further strengthening their squad with the signing of France playmaker Mathieu Valbuena from Dynamo Moscow.
The pint-sized former Olympique de Marseille star signed a three-year deal at the Stade de Gerland after a one-season exile in Russia and could make his OL debut today against En Avant de Guingamp.
“He started playing again at the beginning of July for Dynamo Moscow. He has shown in training that he is ready and will bring his technical quality to the team,” Lyon coach Hubert Fournier said. “He is eligible and there is a chance he will start.”
Claudio Beauvue will hope to play for Lyon against the club he left in the summer for an initial 4.5 million euros after scoring 27 goals in all competitions last season, but there is a doubt over France’s reigning player of the year Alexandre Lacazette, who came off last weekend with a back problem.
AS Monaco were to host to Lille OSC yesterday before going to Spain for the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Valencia on Wednesday next week, while Marseille visit Stade de Reims tomorrow.
Elsewhere, AS Saint-Etienne host Girondins de Bordeaux and newly promoted Angers SCO, leaders after the opening weekend, host Nantes in a local derby.
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