|A||Real Sociedad||Shakhtar Donetsk|
Paris Saint-Germain FC coach Laurent Blanc pressed home the importance of his team's ball retention when they tackle Olympiacos FC in their UEFA Champions League Group C opener.
Blanc, who took over the reins from Carlo Ancelotti this summer, also sang the praises of potent Olympiacos forward Konstantinos Mitroglou, who hit a hat-trick in Saturday's 4-0 Greek Super League victory against Skoda Xanthi FC. Meanwhile, the man in the home dugout, Míchel, resisted the temptation to err on the side of caution, saying: "Football has taught me that he who plays for a draw invites a defeat."
Although there has been a significant turnover in players, the same can be said of PSG, who will also be going through a transitional period. We know them very well – they have great players and this is an exciting challenge for us. However, such knowledge will pale into insignificance if the players don't perform on the pitch.
We won't change our tactics from game to game because our team has been built to play a certain way. It's about being strong at both ends of the pitch. Our style of play has yielded some impressive results on the domestic front and we hope to carry that form into Europe.
My players have the necessary experience to cope with such encounters. This is a match for glory and they need to channel their emotions in the best possible way. They are motivated, ambitious and can't wait to start. It will be my first experiencing of coaching in the Champions League and I have faith in my players' abilities. We respect and admire PSG but we always go out to win. Football has taught me that he who plays for a draw invites a defeat.
Saturday: Olympiacos 4-0 Skoda Xanthi FC (Saviola 4, Mitroglou 27 45 73)
Roberto; Leandro Salino, Medjani, Manolas (Maniatis 45), Bong (Holebas 37); Weiss, Samaris, Paulo Machado, Fuster (Yatabaré 62); Saviola, Mitroglou.
• Kostas Mitroglou hit a hat-trick for the second successive league game as Olympiacos maintained their 100% start to their domestic season. Sambou Yatabaré made his Greek Super League debut as a 62nd-minute substitute.
Left-back Gaëtan Bong (right ankle) and right-back Leandro Salino (pulled leg muscle) sustained injuries on Saturday. Míchel rested Dimitris Siovas and Joel Campbell for the Xanthi game, while keeping Giannis Maniatis on the bench.
Laurent Blanc, coach
Every match is different but our aims remain the same – to win. Their fans will create a hot atmosphere. I remember them from when I came here with Bordeaux and also during my playing days. We will stick to our natural game, retaining possession regardless of what tactics Olympiacos adopt. If we keep the ball, we minimise the risk of conceding.
I also recall Mitroglou, who has scored six goals in recent matches. He was a teenager taking his first steps in the competition when I first came across him. He has progressed well. To do better than last season would mean to reach the semi-finals, which will be a challenge. However, first of all we need to negotiate the group, get as many points as possible and win tomorrow.
Marquinho is not ready to play 90 minutes. However, things have changed without Alex. There are two players that can cover in his absence, but this is a decision I will make after the last training session. Olympiacos are an attacking team who score freely. They are also very good from set pieces.
Friday: FC Girondins de Bordeaux 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain FC (Matuidi 30, Lucas 63)
Sirigu; Van der Wiel, Alex, Thiago Silva, Digne; Verratti, Thiago Motta, Matuidi; Lucas (Coman 81), Ibrahimović (Cavani 81), Ongenda (Rabiot 72)
• Lucas's first goal for PSG helped to secure a welcome win for the French champions at the Stade Chaban-Delmas to leave them third in the table.
Blanc left out Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani for Friday's game, the latter appearing only as a late substitute. Alex (thigh) and Javier Pastore (thigh) did not accompany their team-mates on the Monday morning flight from Le Bourget airport to Athens.
• PSG are unbeaten in all seven of their contests against Greek sides, winning six and drawing one, and are yet to concede a goal. They last visited Greece for a 2006/07 UEFA Cup round of 32 tie against AEK Athens FC, winning 2-0 away and by the same score at home a week later.
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