Laurent Blanc: Shakhtar create problems for European giants

Head coach of PSG has answered questions from the media representatives before the game with the Pitmen.

- Maxwell has very clearly underlined the importance of defence in tomorrow's match. Will a proper defensive display really be a key aspect in the PSG game?
- In any game, it is important to organise the defence. I will say this: the team with a better defence will win tomorrow. In every game, we try to form our defensive line in the right way, always thinking about the attack. Speaking of Shakhtar, I would note that there is an excellent coach, well-organised game, philosophy. But we also have our own philosophy. And the team, which will possess the ball more and dominate proceedings in tomorrow’s game, are likely to win. Either way, each team will try to play confident in defence and convert their chances in the attacking third.

- Laurent, you, and especially PSG, are judged based on the Champions League performance. Is it normal or a little unfair?
- You have to answer this question. Because it is you who judge us based on those games. Even if I know that the Champions League - a Grail for all: for you, us, the whole of French Football, you just judge PSG  by the results in the Champions League. But there are other competitions. And the club sets certain goals for the season, which we try to achieve. This is not only the Champions League. You ask a question that you can answer yourself.

- How do you assess the initiative from Thiago Silva at halftime of the match against Nantes, when PSG had a hard first half, and after he talked to all the players, the team played quite differently after the break?
- We are talking about the Champions League or something else? If you want to go back to that, of course, I appreciate this act from Thiago because he is a captain. The match against Nantes was not the only one in which the first half of the match was not successful. Similar games have taken place in the past year against Lorient, Bastia. I'm glad that Thiago Silva took over the initiative. He is the captain, not only on the field. During the break, there was a conversation with the players, and then came the result. Of course, I appreciate his actions.

- Usually Cavani doesn’t have a very good start to the season. This year, he already shows a very strong performance. How would you explain this?
- Perhaps you forgot something. The first six months at PSG since moving to the club saw him score in every match. Yes, then there was a small decline. And what more do you want? Last season, he netted 31 goals, this season he scores in every match. Apparently, he aims to beat his own record. We have two similar forwards in our team, and that’s good.

- Maybe Cavani got rid of some personal problems?
- If it allows him to score more goals, it is very good that he has got rid of them. But I do not think that such a player has some problems. When he played for Napoli, he also scored constantly.

- I would like to welcome you in Lviv.
- Thank you. Only a woman can do that. It's true!

- As you know, your club has refused to take your fans to Lviv. How, in your opinion, is this decision justified? Will it affect your game tomorrow?
- Of course this is a very sensitive issue. We play for the fans, and it is a pity that they will not be at the match. But we have no right to make such decisions, we, as players, have to work on the field. And fans of Shakhtar will receive a very warm welcome in France. I hope they will enjoy.

- Laurent, what can you say about Shakhtar? Are they the best opponents, who you are going to face since the start of the season?
- I do not know whether this is the best team, but I can definitely say that it is a very strong team. It has its own philosophy. They have a lot of Brazilians and Ukrainians, whom they developed. I watched their excellent qualities. Their coach has his own music and philosophy on his mind. Our task is to show that game, which will enable us to advance from the group. Last year, we played out a draw with Ajax, and we thought we had already reached the last-16, but it was not so. We will try to give our all in the upcoming match. We have already studied the opponents; they are a powerful team that play good football. In a match with Real Madrid they had 50% of ball possession in the first half! Shakhtar create problems for European giants. Naturally, they are good opponents. Tomorrow we'll see.

- Are all the players one hundred per cent ready? Some of the key players have not played in the Nantes clash...
- Yes, I deliberately rested David Luiz, who had a minor injury - a knee problem. I look forward to today's last training session. Hopefully, these problems have disappeared. All players are fit. It will be quite a difficult choice, whom to field and whom to leave on the subs’ bench. In a match with Nantes Marquinhos replaced David Luiz very well, so we'll see. The final training session will tell.

- Laurent, you will play the match in specific conditions. Shakhtar are suffering from not playing at home. Would single out this match from all the rest?
- We came here to play football. Of course, there are things that surround the game. But our goal is to show beautiful, entertaining football and possibly win. With regard to this situation: we know a lot, but not everything. In the same way as you do. We were based in Donetsk three years ago, when I was the head coach of the France national team. It is a beautiful city with a great base. I would also note the attitude. Of course, we know that Donetsk suffered badly. But I repeat: our objective is only tomorrow's match. We will see the fans’ attitude, but we came to play football. We have to try to forget about everything that surrounds us. This can happen to any arena, no one is immune from this!


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