Blanc annoyed by criticism of PSG players’ Vegas trip

PARIS - DECEMBER 8: Coach of PSG Laurent Blanc looks on during the UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Shakhtar Donetsk at Parc des Princes stadium on December 8, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc insisted Thursday that his players did nothing wrong by going to Las Vegas after their French League Cup victory last weekend.

Blanc said that his players can do what they want on holiday, ahead of the Ligue 1 champions’ return to action on Friday night against Rennes.

PSG made it three French League Cup triumphs in a row last weekend, despite being reduced to 10 men, thanks to Angel Di Maria’s winner against Lille.

Some of the players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Pastore, were allowed to go on holiday to Las Vegas after the final.

“My players do what they want. They had three days off, I gave them to them, and I think that’s a good thing,” an irritated Blanc told a press conference.

“There is no problem with it, when I give three days’ rest. I do not have to comment on what my players do, whatever they are – young or more experienced.

“It is their privacy, they do what they have to do.”

Rennes coach Rolland Courbis also brushed off any thoughts that the weekend trip could affect PSG’s performance or fitness levels on Friday.

“Given that they have had three days’ rest, I have other things to do than to judge PSG players and they had permission to go to Las Vegas,” he told sports daily L’Equipe.

“I would have preferred them to have just played in the Champions League semi-finals, or to have just played a Ligue 1 game like Lille and Angers (on Wednesday), but we are not in charge.”

Blanc’s side turn their attentions back to the league, where they are 27 points clear at the top of the table with just four matches to play.

PSG have just one game left this season of any real importance, the French Cup final against arch rivals Marseille at the Stade de France on May 21, although a win against Rennes will see them equal the Ligue 1 points record of 89 that they set in 2013-14.

The only disappointment for the club this season was the Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Manchester City, but Qatari chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi quashed speculation about Blanc’s future by saying that he would stay at the club next term.

– Rennes still chasing Europe –
Rennes have dropped out of the race for Champions League qualification after picking up just one point in their last three matches, although Courbis still thinks that a top-six finish and a possible Europa League place are within his side’s grasp with three games to go.

“Two wins could be enough to finish sixth, which would be much better than seventh,” Courbis, whose team sit one point behind sixth-placed Lille, added.

“The minimum target for our last three games against PSG, Montpellier and Bastia is six points.

“We must stay professional and not let go when there is still something we can achieve, and that something is sixth. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.”

It will be tough for Rennes to pick up one of their two targeted victories at the Parc des Princes, where PSG have lost just once in 37 league matches.

Having said that, the Brittany club have only been defeated twice in their last eight Ligue 1 trips to the capital, with four wins and two draws.

German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp is likely to return in place of Salvatore Sirigu for PSG, with Di Maria and Ibrahimovic looking to cap off a week in which they were both nominated for the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award.

Courbis has said that striker Kamil Grosicki is a doubt with a muscle problem, while Fallou Diagne is suspended.