Blanc satisfied with PSG start at Champions League

AFP , Wednesday 16 Sep 2015

Laurent Blanc
Paris St Germain's coach Laurent Blanc reacts during their French Ligue 1 soccer match against Bordeaux at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, September 11, 2015. (Reuters)

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc admitted bigger tests await his side after they began their Champions League campaign with a 2-0 win against Malmo on Tuesday.

Angel Di Maria and Edinson Cavani got the goals as PSG, quarterfinalists in each of the last three seasons, saw off the Swedish champions at the Parc des Princes in Group A.

But Paris face a fight with Real Madrid for supremacy in the section, and the Spanish giants underlined their credentials by brushing aside Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 in the night's other game as Cristiano Ronaldo netted yet another hat-trick.

"It's easy to compare after the first match. We will see at the end of the group stage. The two home teams have won, but our next matches will be away from home," said Blanc, whose side visit Ukraine next while Madrid go to Malmo.

"We need to make sure we get points away from home, although not every team playing at home managed to win tonight."

Meanwhile, Blanc warned that Di Maria is still some way short of his best form after handing the Argentine just his second start since signing from Manchester United last month.

"Angel is still building himself up. He arrived late after the Copa America and he was carrying a hamstring injury. I think we were right to let him rest at first rather than rush him in," said Blanc of the winger brought in to help take Paris to the next level in Europe.

"He needs games because, let's not forget, it was just his second start.

"He is clever in front of goal. He can bring us quality with his passing but I also think he can score a certain number of goals over the course of a season.

"We were very good down the right with Gregory (van der Wiel) and Marco (Verratti) and Angel. It augurs well."

- 'Hats off to Paris' -

It was not quite such a good night for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who returned after injury to face his hometown team and the club with whom he started his career but missed a handful of chances in the first period and was eventually substituted 15 minutes from the end.

"I decided to take him off because, when you come back, you start to get tired after about 70 minutes, and he is also of a certain age," Blanc said of the 33-year-old striker, who had an abdominal injury.

"He could have finished the match but that would have perhaps been taking a pointless risk. We have attacking players on the bench who could come on so I'd be stupid not to use them."

Malmo coach Age Hareide was magnanimous in defeat.

"Our last Champions League game was in December last year. Since then we have only played in the Swedish league which is not the same level. The qualifiers are not enough," said the Norwegian.

"Hats off to Paris. It was a magnificent match from them.

"We need to be realistic. We will battle for third place. That's important as it gives access to the Europa League," added Hareide.

"We have Real Madrid up next and we are much better at home than away from home. Unfortunately we concede too many goals away from home and we absolutely need to learn how to close the door."

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