Ancelotti set for PSG league bow

AFP, Saturday 14 Jan 2012

Carlo Ancelotti will take charge of his first league match with Paris Saint-Germain when the Ligue 1 leaders welcome Toulouse to the Parc des Princes on Saturday as the French league resumes following its winter break


The Italian was installed as the new manager of PSG following Antoine Kombouare's dismissal just before Christmas and was in the dugout for the capital club's 2-1 victory over fifth division Locmine in the French Cup last Sunday.

Midfielder Mathieu Bodmer admitted things have changed since the introduction of the former Chelsea, AC Milan and Juventus boss, saying: "The arrival of Carlo Ancelotti and his technical staff has brought a change in working methods.

"The fact that these professionals have come from foreign leagues has also given us a different vision of the game."

"You have to learn it to know it, the group is receptive and everything is going well at the moment. It's up to us to adapt to this new technical team."

Unbeaten in their last four league matches, PSG hold a three-point lead over surprise package Montpellier at the season's midpoint and will be looking maintain their momentum with three points against Toulouse.

"It's clear, and it's the objective. The fans at the Parc (des Princes) are knowledgeable and demanding, but that's normal because the club has very big ambitions this season," said Bodmer on the importance of starting 2012 on a positive note.

"It will be a complicated match. Toulouse are a very athletic team that has a lot of talented players."

A 3-1 success in the reverse fixture in August helped kickstart PSG's league campaign.

"Away, we had a really good second half at their ground, which launched our season. I hope that we can do the same on Saturday in front of our own fans," Bodmer added.

The two sides share the distinction of having the stingiest league defence, having both conceded just 17 goals so far, but Alain Casanova's men have struggled to find the back of the opposition net, tallying just 20 goals through 19 matches.

Meanwhile, PSG have completed the signing of Brazilian defender Maxwell from Barcelona with incumbent left-back Siaka Tiene destined for the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.

Elsewhere on Saturday, second-placed Montpellier host fourth-placed Lyon at the Stade de la Mosson. Rene Girard's side are aiming to re-ignite their title challenge after picking up just one point from a possible nine prior to the festive period.

Lyon won four consecutive league matches before going down 1-0 at Valenciennes in the final fixture of 2011, leaving them five points off the pace.

Sunday's lone fixture sees a resurgent Marseille host third-placed Lille at the Stade Velodrome. Didier Deschamps' side are unbeaten in their past five league games and will be seeking to keep their outside title hopes alive.

Marseille cut short Brazilian striker Brandao's loan spell at Gremio to bolster the club's attacking options with brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew set to depart for international duty with Ghana and Andre-Pierre Gignac out injured.

Meanwhile, Lille's hopes of retaining their league crown will heavily depend on the club's ability to keep hold of Belgian star Eden Hazard in the January transfer window with Europe's big clubs keeping a close eye on the 21-year-old.


Fixtures (2000GMT unless otherwise stated)


Ajaccio v Auxerre, Bordeaux v Valenciennes, Brest v Nice, Caen v Rennes, Dijon v Evian, Montpellier v Lyon, Nancy v Lorient, Paris Saint-Germain v Toulouse, Saint-Etienne v Sochaux



Marseille v Lille

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