Laurent Blanc: It will be great match against strong team

The head coach of PSG responded to questions from journalists ahead of the match against Shakhtar.

- What is the team’s condition? Are Van der Wiel and Verratti ready for the game?
- As regards the squad, we won’t have Thiago Silva tomorrow. That’s my decision. He has played a lot lately, and did very well, by the way. We will give him some rest. As you know, we have a large number of players with injuries. Those are Thiago Motta, Verratti, Van der Wiel and so on. I do not know whether they will appear or not. We will take the decision after today's evening training session. We are not certain about some five or six players.

- How is Javier Pastore?
- A miracle should happen for him to play. He started training, working separately from the main group. As you can see, Verratti has been recovering from injury, progressing. Maybe he will appear. Although he has not yet trained with the general group. Of course, it would be nice if they play. Besides, Verratti has got one card. If he earns the third yellow one, he won’t be able to take part in the Last 16. On the one hand, he is not quite ready, but on the other hand, there is a risk for him to get another yellow card.

- Recently, Adrien Rabiot has started training. Yesterday, he said on TV that if he spends less time on the field, he will ask them to let him leave. Do you get nervous about such statements?
- Even your question makes me a bit nervous. But given the fact that you are asking it, I, basically, got prepared for it. Your question is not about tomorrow's match, but I will answer it, because I'm a courteous individual: yes, it makes me nervous. I am not going to say anything about it. I will focus on tomorrow's game against Shakhtar Donetsk.

- Is he easy to work with?
- Yes, but he must understand that if his deal is expiring, he can leave later. If we sign a deal for five years, it is necessary to abide by the terms and respect the club, whose academy he graduated from. I do not want to say anything else and get nervous.

- Is it easy to coach David Luiz?
- Yes. As you know, he is the man who is always cheerful and smiling all the time. South Americans are much happier than we are. They have a different culture: a lot of music, believing in God, a different lifestyle. Thanks to that, they are easy to manage as a group, at the same time they are very good players. It's better than the situation when a player constantly moans about something.

- From the standings point of view, the upcoming match does not mean anything to you. Maybe you will reshuffle the keepers tomorrow? Will Sirigu or Dyushez appear?
- Good question, you will see it tomorrow. When I say that's a good question, it really is. Moreover, we will play in the League Cup in a few days.

- Are you upset because of ending up this group stage in the second spot?
- We do not have even a mathematical chance to take the lead. I have already said once that thqat ridiculous goal we conceded in Madrid is very disappointing to us. It was the goalkeeper’s error, everyone saw that. Another problem is that we did not score. Had we netted at least one goal, we might have claimed the top spot in the group. I hope that we will be lucky in the Last 16 draw. We must live with that and concentrate on the upcoming match against the good team, featuring great players. Plus we will be in good form, as we are playing at home. Therefore, we should claim a positive result tomorrow. Maybe we won’t field the starting XI in full, but we must do our best to win.

- Your team dominates the league... Do you like its trainings or games more?
- Of course, the games! The most important thing in our work is competitions, games and results. I adore it. And footballers definitely like playing more! But in order to do that successfully, it is necessary to train well. A match day is quite special. You need to make your choice, with some players not making it onto the match list. Maybe they do not even deserve it, but it happens so. Next follows the adrenaline of the clash itself, the will to win any competition, regardless of the opponents and the stadium! And when the team gains such positive momentum as now, and turns in some successful runs – I am happy. I want to thank the entire staff and personnel at all levels. Let's enjoy the moment and savour it. In sports, everything is changing rapidly. When we win, everyone praises us. But look at Bayern: they won every time, but in the match against Monchengladbach-based Borussia, they were 0-3 behind and eventually finished it, losing 1-3.

- Considering the lack of real interest in the game, what will you do with the team squad? For example, with the goalkeeper?
- Some players are not ready physically. It’s not even the issue of team reshuffling. It’s just because certain players have injuries. We have a very busy and challenging calendar through December 19 - we play once in three days. Naturally, they need some rotation, as the human body is not made of rubber –people get tired. Of course, it is very good that we play the last group stage meeting at home, having made it to the knockout stages. We are facing a great match against a strong team with a good coach. The opponents play attacking football. We have a similar philosophy. The match will definitely have dangerous episodes and goals - at least for the sake of that one should come to the stadium and watch the game. Of course we want to win! As well as our opponents do.

- Given the positive part of the season, can you say that you are better prepared for the Last 16?
- Good question. Yes, we have been playing in the Champions League for several years in a row - of course, we have more experience, that’s obvious! Plus, over the past three years, we have signed up a number of very good players. By the way, they have already won the Champions League and that is no coincidence. That’s a very important experience for our team. Here is an example of three years ago, when we met with more experienced rivals in terms of the number of matches played in the tournament. Now I look at the statistics and see that we go neck and neck with those rivals. The difference between us and the great clubs who already won the Champions League final, is getting smaller. And I hope that sooner or later we will win that trophy.

- You mentioned that you didn’t manage to score in Madrid. Does it apply only to the games against Real Madrid or the big matches in general?
- No, that’s a particular case. You have seen it: we created numerous dangerous situations. We have skilled players who score in the Champions League. But on that day all the stars came together in the fashion that we just could not do it. Although we dominated that game, and that's good. Still, we are very sorry that we could not come back from Madrid with a positive result. We must accept this fact and remember it until the moment when we have another opportunity to win.