Saturday 21 July 2018

Blanc: Premier League intensity is its downfall

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Laurent Blanc. Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Paris Saint-Germain head coach Laurent Blanc. Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Mark Ogden

PSG coach Laurent Blanc believes the intensity of the Premier League is damaging the Champions League ambitions of English clubs.

Blanc was responding to claims by City's French midfielder Samir Nasri - the pair had a bitter falling-out following the failure of Blanc's France team at Euro 2012 - that PSG would struggle "on a Monday night at Stoke, West Ham or at the Emirates against Arsenal".

Although PSG have won Ligue 1 for the last four seasons and are currently 25 points clear of second-placed Monaco, Blanc said the French league has been unfairly dismissed as too weak to provide a potential Champions League winner.

And the former Manchester United defender, who also insisted City were not one of the competition's leading teams, claimed English football's strength has become its weakness in the Champions League.

"The Premier League is so intense that, by March or April, maybe they have reached their levels of fatigue. We have to have a stronger league but you need to find a balance," he said.

With both City and PSG attempting to reach the semi-finals for the first time, Blanc admitted it was a relief to avoid Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid by drawing City.

"I have the impression that people think it's an easy draw. But I have seen so much of it that I gave the players a speech yesterday saying, 'Don't listen to them, do not believe it, they know nothing about football'.

"City have a quality team with individual players who can make the difference. We're preparing ourselves for two very difficult games."

City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who confirmed that goalkeeper Joe Hart will return after a calf injury, but that Yaya Toure is ruled out with a knee problem, admitted he understood Blanc's view that City were not one of Europe's "ogres".

"We must be clear," Pellegrini said. "Barcelona at this moment is one of the best teams in the world. We also played Bayern and it was very difficult, but we won two and lost two.

"They are important teams who are used to this stage, so I can understand why Blanc does not want to face those teams, but I know they respect us very well.

"We are not coming to Paris to try to draw 0-0. We will play the same as we always do and we have improved this season." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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