Paris Saint Germain coach Laurent Blanc (right) attends a news conference along with PSG player Thiago Silva at the Aspire Academy in Doha yesterday. PSG will play a friendly match against Real Madrid at Khalifa Stadium in Doha, today at 5.45pm. PICTURE BY: KAMMUTTY VP
DOHA: Paris Saint Germain are set to clash with Real Madrid, led by their former coach Carlo Ancelotti, in a much-anticipated friendly here today.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc insisted that his Qatari-backed side would be using the game merely as a training session ahead of a busy second half of the season in which they prepare to defend their Ligue 1 title.
PSG are top of Ligue 1, three points ahead of Monaco, at the winter break with Real Madrid third in La Liga, five points behind Barcelona.
“There is prestige, but it remains a friendly, you can’t say otherwise,” said Blanc.
Blanc said that despite leading Ligue 1, “for now, Paris have won nothing,” and they would be using the match, “as a big training session” to bring in trophies in 2014.
Blanc said that only defender Christophe Jallet was uncertain to play because of a back injury.
“The idea is to fill the tank for the second part of the league season. But against Real it will be interesting all the same to see my team react.
“The important match this week is against Brest (French Cup on Sunday).”
Although a friendly, the match at Khalifa Stadium has already been sold out, and has major importance in the eyes of the club’s Qatari owners.
The opening of an official PSG store on Tuesday in Doha attracted about 100 fans, but apart from countless billboards across the city, it is hard to talk about real excitement surrounding the game.
That could change on today.
The stadium will be full for this latest clash between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo as tickets for the match were sold well in advance.
“It is a big match between two great teams,” said the PSG striker.
“It’s a great contest in Doha and I hope it will help us prepare for 2014. Obviously we will be hoping to win this match,” Ibrahimovic said on Monday.
“It’s a match that will act as a benchmark for the upcoming challenges,” he added.
The match will be the second friendly meeting between Ancelotti and his former players, the first being a match in Sweden last July which Real won 1-0.
Meanwhile, Blanc said he had been impressed by the facilities being built for the 2022 World Cup, as a debate rages whether the global event should be switched to winter because of the unbearable summer heat.
“It’s the first time I’ve been here,” said Blanc.
“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the sports facilities. We’re in a pretty impressive complex.
“This is a brand new city, a country under construction.
“In any case, working in these conditions, the climate is ideal. Regarding the 2022 World Cup, I saw some stadium projects. I can tell you that there are extraordinary plans.”