Cabaye set to debut as PSG need win vs. Bordeaux

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Paris Saint-Germain new boy Yohan Cabaye is set to make his first appearance for the French champions when they host Girondins de Bordeaux on Friday. The 28-year-old completed his move from Newcastle United on Wednesday and has received clearance in time to be included in Laurent Blanc's squad for what will be a fourth meeting with the manager's former club this season. It is also a timely boost for PSG, who will be without Marco Verratti through suspension and Adrien Rabiot through injury.

In terms of whether or not Cabaye will start the clash with Bordeaux, it completely depends on how willing Blanc is to change what has generally been a winning formula so far. Even in the disappointing 1-1 draw at EA Guingamp last weekend, the team dominated possession and enjoyed more than enough control over the game to have buried the Breton side. The problem was that PSG's normal polish was lacking from the performance, arguably due to the fatigue incurred thanks to absences in defence and midfield that prohibited rotation.

That will not be a problem on Friday night at the Parc des Princes. Not only has Cabaye arrived to swell the options available in one of the most crucial, but also understaffed areas of the team, the squad have been able to enjoy a rare midweek without a game. Those rest periods will now be more commonplace after the surprise Coupe de France exit to Montpellier HSC last week. However, this one was particularly necessary when taking into account PSG's hectic start to 2014 that included the return from Doha after the clash with Real Madrid and a rearranged cup tie.

Arguably, had Cabaye been secured earlier in the month, then the schedule might not have become so testing. But the capital club's chances of a domestic treble are now over for the season and attention must turn back to the league. PSG's lead over title rivals AS Monaco at the top of Le Championnat now stands at just three points and Les Monegasques are next up for Blanc and his players in a challenging away fixture.

It is of paramount importance that the defending champions do not allow Claudio Ranieri's side to further narrow the gap by unnecessarily dropping points once again. But, as if the clash with Monaco was not difficult enough on its own, there is also the small matter of a Coupe de la Ligue semifinal tie away against FC Nantes on Tuesday, as well.

The next nine days will be crucial in shaping the outcome of the Parisians' domestic season.

Bordeaux will be keen to avenge their 3-1 Coupe de la Ligue defeat from just more than a fortnight ago, while PSG will no doubt be buoyed by the raucous reception that will greet Cabaye's first appearance in Rouge et Bleu. But there is also the chance that the French international's first action will come from the bench. Javier Pastore was outstanding in that victory at the Stade Chaban-Delmas and the arrival of Cabaye will have him fearing for his role in the side more than he already has been of late.

Blanc may elect to take this opportunity to force a good performance out of the Argentine in reaction to his latest acquisition. Doing that would mean a change in formation though and adopting the 4-4-2 diamond that has allowed Pastore to fleetingly thrive behind the front two of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. The chances of that gamble on El Flaco backfiring are as high as they are of succeeding, though, so Blanc may prefer not to take the risk and instead start with a player whom he can trust.

Alternatively, both could play, with the left-sided role in the front three being sacrificed.

There should be no shortage of motivation for Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura or Jeremy Menez if they get to feature at some point against Bordeaux. Cabaye's arrival is more likely to put their positions under threat than those of Verratti, Thiago Motta or Blaise Matuidi. Aside from the suspension of Verratti, Blanc has no new selection headaches.

Rabiot has been out for a few weeks now and will be for a little while longer, while Christophe Jallet's absence following surgery is something that the tactician appears confident that PSG can overcome without dipping into the transfer market once again. Lavezzi returns to the squad after suffering from an abductor problem, while captain Thiago Silva is also included and should be fit to return after missing the Guingamp draw.

Whether or not Cabaye features from the start, PSG need a win. But more importantly, they also need a convincing performance. With Monaco already breathing down their necks and their clash next week at the Stade Louis II now looming bigger than ever on the horizon, the next nine days are pivotal for Blanc and his players' chances of domestic success on two fronts.

Will Cabaye have an immediate impact and silence some of his early critics? There are plenty who have questioned the risk he has taken in making his move to the capital so close to the World Cup.

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