PSG will meet a familiar foe when they travel to Bordeaux

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Xavier Laine/Getty ImagesGuillaume Hoarau, center, will line up against his old PSG teammates Tuesday.

One year ago, Guillaume Hoarau left Paris Saint-Germain for Dalian Aerbin in China after failing to secure a regular place in then-coach Carlo Ancelotti's plans.

Six months after the Frenchman departed on his Chinese Super League adventure, the Italian also left the capital club.

Now, just over 12 months to the day that he officially signed with the Blue Hawks, the rangy 29-year-old striker is back in Ligue 1 and has been handed a six-month contract by Girondins de Bordeaux from manager Francis Gillot.

Hoarau's second competitive appearance in Bordeaux colours is expected to come at home against his former club, as fate would have it, on Tuesday in the Coupe de la Ligue quarterfinals. The five-cap French international has already admitted that he is looking forward to facing his old teammates, and PSG supporters have plenty of fond memories of Hoarau too. The player, signed by the club in 2008, quickly became a fan favourite and was always quick to demonstrate his love for a club that he rapidly developed an affinity with.

That chapter is over now, though, and there is no room for sentiment on either side at the Stade Chaban Delmas on Tuesday. While it will be great to see Hoarau, a player who along with Kevin Gameiro was never perhaps given a fair crack of the whip by Ancelotti, back on the pitch in French domestic competition, Laurent Blanc's players should know enough about him to be able to nullify the threat he poses to their chances of reaching the semifinals.

Having knocked holders AS Saint-Etienne out in the previous round, PSG now have one of their former players standing between them and bettering last season's disappointing quarterfinal exit on penalties. Along with Malian marksman Cheick Diabate, another towering figure in attack for Les Girondins, Hoarau will be hoping to lead a rejuvenated Bordeaux outfit past his old club and prove a point to his former employers in the process.

Since the two sides last met in September, a 2-0 win for Blanc on his first return to his old stomping ground as PSG coach, Bordeaux have enjoyed a revival. That defeat left them mired in 16th place, and things would get worse for Gillot's men, plummeting to 18th toward the end of the month before the beginning of a run of good form that has lifted them into eighth place. It will be the third time that the two sides have met already this season, with a fourth meeting coming up at the start of February when the champions host Les Girondins at the Parc des Princes.

PSG won both matches in the Trophee des Champions and Ligue 1, so Bordeaux will be keen to take some measure of revenge against a side now led by the coach who guided them to their most recent Championnat title win in 2008-09. Blanc's players will be equally confident that they can once again get the better of the southwesterners, although their jaded showing in parts against Ajaccio in Corsica on Saturday suggests that there may be some rotation of the squad.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, fresh from being named in the FIFA XI for 2013 and sweeping the 2013 FIFA Puskas Award, looked in need of a breather at the weekend. But with Edinson Cavani struggling to shake off his New Year's malaise, the talismanic Swede will almost certainly start. The game instead is an ideal opportunity for the likes of Lucas Moura, Jeremy Menez, Lucas Digne and Marquinhos to get a look-in while Marco Verratti returns to the squad following an adductor problem.

Like PSG, Bordeaux are three-time winners of the Coupe de la Ligue, and both will be keen to reach the Stade de France this year to claim a fourth title and become the most decorated club in the history of the competition. However, the capital club need to at least better last season's last eight showing or the criticisms that they do not take domestic cup competitions seriously will be that little bit more justified. The decision to go with what Blanc classes as his strongest XI on Saturday proved to be justified in the final result, but the chances of him being able to get away with fielding an almost identical team are slim with FC Nantes coming up at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

A win at the Stade Chaban Delmas and Blanc's achievements with this PSG side will continue to eclipse Ancelotti's while the champions will also edge one step closer to the domestic dominance that they crave.


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