6 August 2014 18:26
Jean-Luc Vasseur is keen to deal Paris Saint-Germain an early blow in their Ligue 1 title defence when he starts his reign as Reims boss.
PSG won a second successive French crown in dominant fashion last season, finishing at the summit of the table by nine points from second-placed Monaco.
Laurent Blanc’s men will be heavy favourites to make it three in a row in 2014-15 and will be expected to start with three points when they travel to the Stade Auguste Delaune.
Vasseur took over at Reims in June after Hubert Fournier left for Lyon following a spell that saw him guide the six-time French champions back to Ligue 1, ending a 33-year absence from the top flight.
The 45-year-old – who spent six years as a player with PSG and also worked as a youth team coach with the club – is aware of the challenge facing his new side on Friday but is undeterred by the daunting nature of their task.
“Against a team like Paris, there is no need for long speeches,” Vasseur said.
“The motivation will come naturally and gradually. We will be the underdog, and therefore in a position in which we can achieve something.”
Reims will need to be highly motivated if they are to achieve a shock result against a side that ran out 3-0 winners in both of last season’s league meetings.
The defending champions looked in ominous form in last Saturday’s 2-0 Trophee des Champions victory over Coupe de France winners Guingamp, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring a double in a comfortable win.
However, the visitors do have reason for optimism, with a host of PSG players set to be unavailable for the opener.
Midfielder Adrien Rabiot and playmaker Lucas Moura are both struggling with ankle injuries, while new signing David Luiz – who only began training this week – appears unlikely to be fit in time to make his debut after missing all of PSG’s pre-season preparations following his World Cup exertions with Brazil.
David Luiz’s compatriot and captain Thiago Silva is also likely to miss out, meaning that Zoumana Camara and Marquinhos are in line to start as the two centre-backs.
Reims also have their fair share of injury worries, with Anthony Weber, Alexis Peuget and Yann Benedick all still recovering from cruciate ligament problems.
Striker Nicolas de Preville (knee) is also a doubt, along with fellow fitness worries Antoine Conte, Atila Turan and Mickael Tacalfred.