High expectations for Paris Saint-Germain following flat performance
Paris Saint-Germain are in Brussels to take on Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, and after an unflattering 2-1 win away at Dijon last Saturday, much better is expected at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
Despite Anderlecht's disappointing start domestically and in Europe this campaign, PSG coach Unai Emery is wary of the 34-time Belgian champions' continental pedigree.
"We have a lot of respect for every opponent, both in France and in Europe," the Spaniard told journalists at his pre-match news conference. "Every team in the Champions League deserves to be here.
"Historically, Anderlecht are a very big team in Belgium and also in Europe. When I watched football when I was young, they were a well-known club. It is true they have not made a good start to the Champions League or the Belgian league this season but we have analysed this team and seen that they are a good team with quality players.
"They have a new coach and he won the league with Gent. I am sure he will bring his experience to the side and motivate them. He has a job to do. They have an opportunity to achieve something here, at home, in front of their fans. We respect this team and have prepared to be ready to play 100 per-cent."
To aid Emery's hopes for an improved showing after the lacklustre effort in Dijon, the Basque tactician has Edinson Cavani, Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Layvin Kurzawa available to him once again.
Captain Thiago Silva was initially in the squad for the final training session before the team left Paris for Brussels but the Brazil international ultimately did not feel 100 percent fit.
Silva's compatriot, Marquinhos, has skippered PSG recently against both Bordeaux and Dijon, while he also led his country against Chile in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in the most recent international break.
Les Parisiens' No. 5 believes that the key to PSG beating Anderlecht this midweek is by adapting better to their opponents than they did at Stade Gaston Gerard last weekend.
"We have our playing style, with a lot of quality players," Marquinhos said. "We have to know how to adapt to certain match situations.
"Sometimes we dominate the possession, sometimes we do not, like against Bayern. You also have to know how to counterattack and be clinical though.
"The coach works very hard at training. Sometimes we have a game plan and then it works out differently during the game. You have to think about what is the best way to try and win. And sometimes it is not up to us."
On paper, Anderlecht should be no match for PSG but the same was said of both Dijon and Montpellier and the former came within minutes of avoiding defeat against the men from the capital, while the latter succeeded in holding them to a draw.
If Emery and his players take the encounter in Brussels as seriously as they usually take their European duties, then they should win quite comfortably and possess nine group stage points from a possible nine.
Succeed against Anderlecht and they will stay ahead of Bayern in the race for top spot in Group B and they will remain one of Europe's most in-form sides.
Anderlecht away will also be a special match for one member of the squad -- right-back Thomas Meunier. Although the Belgium international is not guaranteed to start, he should at least feature after a heroic double away at Dijon last week.
Meunier, 26, has scored seven goals and provided seven assists from 10 competitive appearances across all competitions for club and country and the former Club Brugge man would love nothing better than being on the winning side when he -- bizarrely -- makes his first appearance at Constant Vanden Stock.
It is not the biggest match of PSG's season and possibly not of the week, with Le Classique away at bitter rivals Marseille coming up on Sunday, but if they do not win in Belgium, it risks undoing their excellent work over the first two rounds of fixtures.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.