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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Football

PSG put European dreams to test
Agencies
Paris, March 05, 2013
First Published: 23:15 IST(5/3/2013)
Last Updated: 01:55 IST(6/3/2013)
Paris Saint-Germain's English midfielder David Beckham arrives for a training session on March 5, 2013 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on the eve of an UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match against Valencia.  AFP PHOTO

Leonardo's assertion that Paris St Germain are made for the Champions League but not for low-key Ligue 1 matches could backfire on Wednesday if they do not show a dramatic improvement against Valencia in a last 16 second leg.

Sports director Leonardo explained PSG's embarrassing 1-0 league defeat at battling 10-man Stade Reims on Saturday by saying: "Maybe we have a team made for Europe, based on talent and passing quality, not for that kind of game."

PSG indeed looked a different side from the one who beat Valencia 2-1 away in the first leg and their chances of success in Wednesday's home game have been hurt by http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/3/06_03_13-metro20.jpgsuspensions to striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfielder Marco Verratti.

The Ligue l leaders' defeat by Reims was the second in a row against a lowly team after they were humbled 3-2 by Sochaux before back-to-back wins against arch rivals Olympique Marseille in the league and French Cup.

Blame game
PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti blamed a bad pitch at Reims for the loss but there will be no excuses on Wednesday on their Parc des Princes turf, where 37-year-old David Beckham could make his first Champions League appearance since 2010 with AC Milan.
The former England captain, who signed a short-term deal with PSG in January, could start the match unless Ancelotti decides to field Clement Chantome or Thiago Motta returns from injury.

Back from injury
The Italian coach is likely to change his centre back pairing with captain Thiago Silva in the running to feature for the first time in more than seven weeks after recovering from a thigh problem.
The Brazilian defender’s return would be a boost to PSG, who could have all but sealed their last-eight qualification in Valencia if they had made more of their domination before allowing the Spaniards to pull a goal back late on.

Juve look to avoid collapse
TURIN: Holding a 3-0 lead from the away leg, it seems only a total collapse by Juventus against Celtic can prevent the Italian team from booking a place in the Champions League quarterfinals. Juventus are expected to finish off the job at home in the return leg of its last-16 matchup on Wednesday, and the players have been urging against complacency.

Giorgio Chiellini says "there's still a lot to do, we mustn't fool ourselves that qualification is already in our pockets."
Three players with yellow cards will likely sit out: midfielders Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio. The replacements will likely be Mauricio Isla, Paul Pogba and Emanuele Giaccherini. Striker Nicolas Anelka could also see some action.


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