Blanc to rest key midfielders for Leverkusen game

Reuters , Tuesday 11 Mar 2014

Laurent Blanc
Paris St Germain's coach Laurent Blanc (Photo: Reuters)

Laurent Blanc will rest key midfielders Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi as Paris St Germain have nothing to fear going into their Champions League last-16 return leg at home against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

The France and Italy internationals, regular starters for PSG will not play, Blanc told a news conference at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

PSG won the first leg 4-0 in Germany, virtually securing their qualification for the last eight, but they are unlikely to take their foot of the gas pedal.

"We're not really scared of anything before a game. We prepare to win and tomorrow will be the same thing," said Blanc.

"We have to confirm what we did very well in the first leg. You have to be prepared for games like this.

"You don't prepare it by taking things lightly and we've prepared well since Monday. It's up to us to create chances and to take control of the game."

To do so, Blanc will rely on Thiago Motta, who is expected to partner Adrien Rabiot and Yohan Cabaye as Verratti and Matuidi will focus on Sunday's league game against St Etienne, opponents against whom they have struggled this season.

It will give Cabaye a chance to further settle in as the former Newcastle United player looks to secure his place in the France squad for the World Cup finals.

"These are obviously matches you want to play in. It's up to me to be ready tomorrow," he said.

"Things are going very well. Everyone has helped me settle in. I'm learning to play alongside these players."

Blanc will have to do without fullback Gregory van der Wiel, who is going to Germany for treatment on a recurring knee injury.

There is no stopping Zlatan Ibrahimovic, however.

Although the Sweden striker has shrugged off a back problem, Blanc could be tempted to rest him in order to preserve him for future challenges.

"We'll have to protect him a bit, but Zlatan always wants to play. But in terms of his back, he's much, much better," said the former France coach.

"Knowing him, I know what his answer will be if I ask him if he wants to start the game. I already know the answer."

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