PSG faces tricky opener at Olympiakos
PARIS (AP) — With a strengthened squad and ambitious intentions, Paris Saint-Germain will open its Champions League campaign at Olympiakos on Tuesday.
PSG brought in Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, Brazilian center back Marquinhos and French left back Lucas Digne to bolster a squad that won the French league title last season.
But the French team will be without Brazilian defender Alex and Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore, both injured.
Europa League runner-up Benfica will host Anderlecht in the other Group C match.
“Benfica, Anderlecht and Olympiakos are good teams, but I think we are the best team in the group,” PSG fullback Gregory Van der Wiel said. “Now we have to show it and win all our matches.”
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has said he wants the club to win the Champions League within the next couple of years. The club topped its group last season before losing to Barcelona in the quarterfinals on away goals as both teams drew 2-2 in France and 1-1 in Spain.
PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti guided the team to its first French league title since 1994 but left to join Real Madrid. The Italian’s replacement, former France coach Laurent Blanc, does not have as much experience on the European stage but still led Bordeaux to the Champions League quarterfinals in the 2009-10 season.
PSG beat Bordeaux 2-0 on Friday with goals from Blaise Matuidi and Lucas Moura to earn a third straight win and climb to third in the French league.
PSG will meet Olympiakos for the first time. Olympiakos routed Skoda Xanthi 4-0 on Saturday with a hat trick from Kostas Mitroglou and a goal from Javier Saviola to stay at the top of the Greek league with four victories in four matches.
“Olympiakos often wins the Greek league title,” PSG midfielder Marco Verratti said. “Therefore they are used to this competition. We expect a tough match on their turf.”
Belgian champion Anderlecht is feeling optimistic despite finishing last in its group last season.
“We’re not in the toughest group, so we definitely have a chance,” Anderlecht defender Bram Nuytinck said. “PSG is obviously the toughest opponent, but we shouldn’t underestimate Benfica and Olympiakos. For sure, Anderlecht is as good as these two teams.”