Crisis? What crisis? PSG aim to bounce back
14 April 2014, 19:18
Paris - What a difference a week makes. Seven days ago, Paris Saint-Germain were riding the crest of a wave - 13 points clear at the top of the league and taking a two-goal cushion into the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Seven days on, and two defeats later, PSG are suddenly being talked about as a club in crisis.
Out of the Champions League after a Jose Mourinho-masterminded 2-0 Chelsea victory and beaten again in the league, 1-0 away at Lyon on Sunday, the knives are being sharpened ready for the ritual sacrifice of coach Laurent Blanc.
Much is being made of the fact that Blanc's one-year contract expires at the end of next season and the wealthy Qatari owners are said to be weighing their options on an extension .
All the more so as it is widely accepted that Blanc was not their first choice for the job in the first place, once Carlo Ancelotti had decided to throw in his lot with Real Madrid.
Certainly, it would take a massive reversal of fortune for PSG to let slip their 10-point advantage in the league over the final five games of the season.
But the manner of the latest two setbacks has served to underline how vulnerable and average a side they look without the redoubtable presence of leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Goalkepper Salvatore Sirgiu conceded: "He makes the difference. We've managed to replace him in the past, but this time it's different, because our style of play is different with him in the side.
"However, we have to put our faith in the players who replace him because we've got some very good players in the squad.
"The truth is Zlatan is out at the moment and we have to do the best we possibly can without him."
The Chelsea defeat was certainly hard to stomach for many of the players. "It's difficult to pick yourself up after being eliminated like that," said captain Thiago Silva.
But motivate himself Thiago did, even if the same could not be said for some of his team-mates in the lacklustre display at Lyon.
Ironically, Lyon are next up on the radar for PSG when the two meet in the French League Cup final in Paris on Saturday.
As for Blanc's future, Thiago Silva gave a rare insight into the mood within the camp, when he said after the Champions League defeat: "Chelsea's experience told at the end of the game. They have a very experienced coach and very experienced players.
Blanc has made it clear he will not make a decision on his own future until after the League Cup final and he said: "We thought we had put the disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions League behind us, but apparently that's not so given the match against Lyon."
He added: "It's true we're going to have to motivate the players again so that some of them regain their sharpness in attack."
The cracks were already beginning to show before the Chelsea trip, with Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani voicing his frustration at having to live in the shadow of Ibrahimovic.
A model recruit since his record 64 million-euro ($88.5 million) move from Napoli. Cavani broke ranks in an interview with sports daily L'Equipe in which he complained it "isn't easy" for a player who is "used to finishing off the action but now being asked to play a different role".
Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu said: "Without a doubt we are still disappointed at being knocked out of the Champions League, that's only natural, but we have to rebuild our confidence."
He added: "It hurts, especially when a team isn't used to losing. We have to face up to that, stay calm and positive and look ahead as have an important cup final as well as the rest of the league season in front of us."
"We have to transform the anger we felt at losing to Lyon into positive energy, staring with next Saturday's final."