Montpellier vs. PSG: Blanc faces a familiar friend

montpellier vs. psg
www.bleacherreport.com

Quick question: Who was the last team to win Ligue 1 before Paris Saint-Germain’s recent dominance of French football?

Marseille? Try again. Lyon? No. Lille? Still wrong.

Given up? A big hint: They’re one of just three teams out of this season’s current twenty yet still searching for their first win, and their Ligue 1 triumph was the first and only in the club’s history.

Haven’t figured it out? Well, it’s Montpellier, PSG’s upcoming opponent who celebrated the Ligue 1 title during the 2011/2012 campaign. La Paillade, who finished seventh under Rolland Courbis last season, have endured a poor start to this term. Not only have they lost to Rennes and Angers – the latter of whom was promoted from Ligue 2 – but have yet to score their first goal. Yes, there are still plenty of rounds left to play, but certainly, two back-to-back losses without even finding the back of the net is now how Montpellier fans envisioned their team ringing in the new season.

To complicate things further, PSG have been barely hitting full stride so far as they seek a fourth straight domestic title. Les Parisiens have quite a way to match Lyon’s dominance from 2002 to 2008, in which Les Gones won seven on the trot, but two wins against Lille and new boys Gazelec Ajaccio all without putting in maximum effort do not spell well for other sides hoping to unseat them as French football’s no. 1 side this season. And more important, for upcoming opponents Montpellier – a team familiar to coach Laurent Blanc due to his having spent a decade in the youth and first team – PSG are a side that they have not enjoyed hosting at the Stade de la Mosson.

The last time Montpellier welcomed PSG and won on their home turf in league play was back in August 2003, when they were able to edge them out 3-2. A 1-0 win in a December 2004 Coupe de la Ligue clash followed, and that would be the final win at the Stade de la Mosson for the hosts, meaning that it has been a dozen years since they were able to take maximum points against the rapidly rising Parisian powerhouse.

Blanc will have to do without Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, new signing Angel Di Maria, and young Italian international Marco Verratti due to knee, hamstring, and hip injuries respectively. Still, the reigning champions boast quality players like Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, and even if their attackers don’t find themselves on the score sheet, Blanc’s men have shown that the goals can come from any of the ten outfield players he chooses to deploy on the pitch.

With Montpellier feeling devoid of confidence and PSG slowly building up momentum, things do not look good for the hosts as it appears highly likely that they will have to wait yet another season to earn a win against a familiar foe in front of their home support at the Stade de la Mosson.

Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.