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PSG looks for 1st victory of season at Nantes

August 22, 2013

PARIS (AP) — Heading into the third match of the season, Paris Saint-Germain is still waiting for its first victory.

The French champions, who again spent heavily in the offseason, need a result at newly-promoted Nantes after a pair of opening draws. It is in sharp contrast to fellow big-spenders Monaco, which will be looking to continue its perfect start against Toulouse on Friday.

“It’s not the start of the season we were expecting,” new PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “We hoped to have more points, but we have to continue to train and work hard.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating. Our opponents have more energy than us, especially in defensive battles. It’s up to us to fix that.”

Even Nantes has more points than PSG. The team won its first match against Bastia but then lost to Lorient.

The home side will be wary of PSG’s firepower in attack, especially after Edinson Cavani scored his first goal for the capital side following his 64-million euro ($84 million) move from Napoli.

“It will be difficult to create a partnership between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cavani,” Blanc added. “But if we manage to do so, they will score a lot of goals.”

Having signed the likes of Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid in an offseason deal worth an estimated 60 million euros ($79 million), Monaco has continued its recruitment drive, bringing in goalkeeper Sergio Romero on loan from Sampdoria to take its total number of signings to 12.

Monaco has enjoyed an impressive start on its top flight return, winning 2-0 at Bordeaux, before crushing Montpellier 4-1. Falcao has scored in both matches but it was Emmanuel Riviere who stole the headlines with a hat trick last weekend to take his tally to four goals in two games.

Another positive result is expected against a Toulouse side which lost 3-0 to Valenciennes on the opening day and drew 1-1 against Bordeaux. Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“I’m happy with the start of the season, but it’s too early to say that everything has been a success,” Ranieri said. “I want to see if my players are capable of again having a good match against Toulouse.

“I watched Toulouse’s match against Valenciennes, it’s a very good team, they deserved better. You need to have an extra focus when the match is played behind closed doors, especially at the beginning of the match.”

Romero is lacking match fitness and is not available for the Toulouse match.

Last-year’s runner-up Marseille has also enjoyed a perfect start and midfielder Mathieu Valbuena believes his team can be a serious rival to big-spenders PSG and Monaco.

“I am convinced we are better armed than last year. And that we can do even better,” Valbuena said. “Money isn’t everything and if we are consistent we are capable of challenging PSG and Monaco. I want to win titles.

“Monaco has started really strongly and shown a lot of quality. I’m a bit surprised by their start and their cohesion as a group. But still, despite its mistakes, PSG remains favorite for the title.”

Lyon, Marseille and Saint-Etienne have also won both their opening matches and they face Reims, Valenciennes and Lille respectively.

Newly-promoted Guingamp is the only team in Ligue 1 which is still pointless. It lost 3-1 at home to Marseille on the first day, but there were signs of improvement in its 1-0 defeat at Saint-Etienne and Guingamp will be hoping for its first points when it hosts Lorient on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, it’s: Evian vs. Rennes; Bordeaux vs. Bastia; and Montpellier vs. Sochaux.

Sunday’s other match sees Ajaccio entertain Nice.

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