19 October 2014 15:37
Paris Saint-Germain’s injury crisis has increased the chances of APOEL claiming a shock UEFA Champions League win in Cyprus on Tuesday.
The French champions head into the Group F clash as favourites, but will be wary after a poor run of luck has put coach Laurent Blanc under pressure.
PSG have won just four of their first 10 Ligue 1 matches this season, although a 3-2 Champions League victory over Barcelona last month does have them on top of their pool.
Blanc’s men will enter Tuesday’s clash on the back of a win after a 3-1 success at Lens.
Edinson Cavani was bizarrely sent off in Friday’s game – initially booked for a gun-firing celebration towards the crowd before being given his marching orders for his reaction – and that will have angered Blanc, who is already without a series of star names.
Captain and centre-back Thiago Silva has not played since getting injured in an August friendly against Napoli, and although Blanc said he would return against Lens, the Brazilian did not feature.
Star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has missed the club’s last five games with a heel problem and Ezequiel Lavezzi (hamstring) is sidelined.
Add in muscle injuries to centre-backs David Luiz and Marquinhos and the club’s slow start can be understood.
Blanc has been forced to play Zoumana Camara with Thiago Motta in a makeshift central defensive pair and he must have been frustrated when Blaise Matuidi was taken off with a thigh problem during the Lens win.
Still, PSG are unbeaten this season – setting APOEL a tough challenge on Tuesday.
The Cypriot side have surprised in Europe’s premier club competition, following a narrow 1-0 loss at Barcelona with a 1-1 home draw against Ajax.
APOEL lead the Cypriot top flight with 16 points from six matches and won 2-1 at Othellos last time out – new signing Rafik Djebbour netting a late winner.
Another new arrival, defender John Arne Riise, featured on that occasion.
APOEL have injury problems of their own, with Portuguese midfielder Nuno Morais travelling to Serbia to have back and hamstring issues assessed.
Winger Stathis Aloneftis is also sidelined, while Pieros Sotiriou and Gustavo Manduca are doubts.
PSG have previously played APOEL, winning 3-0 on aggregate in the first round of the 1993-94 European Cup Winners’ Cup.