Premier League intensity holds clubs back in Europe – Blanc

Rob Conlon
Laurent Blanc: Left PSG

Laurent Blanc: Left PSG

Laurent Blanc suggests the physical demands of the Premier Leauge could explain why English clubs have struggled in Europe recently.

PSG are appearing in the last eight of the Champions League for the fourth successive year as they prepare to host quarter-final first timers Manchester City at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

The two clubs have drawn many comparisons having been funded lavishly by Middle Eastern investors in recent years.

But while French champions PSG have been accused of having things easy in a relatively weak Ligue 1, Blanc believes the extra intensity of the Premier League may have held City back.

Blanc said: “Manchester City had the same project a bit before Paris St Germain. They managed to win their domestic league, which is not an easy task and some other titles, but maybe in Europe maybe they’re a bit behind us.

“Maybe this shows what Paris St Germain have achieved is not as easy as it looks. But I’m a bit bored of these questions. Even the French media are asking is Ligue 1 as strong in terms of intensity.

“Maybe there’s a case but it’s not all about intensity. Maybe England is more competitive but I don’t see many English teams in the semi-finals of the European competitions over the last five or six years.

“Maybe they have reached a further level in terms of fatigue. You need to find a right balance. There are problems in every domestic league.”

PSG have already wrapped up their domestic title, having secured the Ligue 1 crown for a fourth successive year with nine games to spare.

Their form on the home front contrasts with that of City, who have endured an inconsistent campaign and fallen off the pace in the Premier League title race. They are now even facing a battle to hang onto a place in the top four.

But Blanc, whose side beat Chelsea in the last round, said: “When we drew Manchester City we were quite happy to avoid the two ‘ogres’ of European football that are Bayern Munich and Barcelona. We may add a third one in Real Madrid.

“But I have the impression the media and the supporters of Paris St Germain think this is an easy draw. Let’s not get into that.

“I gave a speech to the players where I said do not listen to people who are saying that, they don’t know anything about football.

“If you look at their squad, the number of quality players, they have great individual players. We are preparing ourselves for two very difficult games.”

Former France defender Blanc, 50, is a familiar face in Manchester having played at United at the end of his playing career from 2001-03.

Asked about his time in the city at his pre-match press conference, Blanc said: “I have really fond memories about Manchester – but I was at Man United, it’s quite different. They are red, we are playing the light blue team.

“But the city itself – I went back having left as a player and I think the city has improved a lot in terms of being welcoming. It was transformed.

“It was quite an industrial city with cotton, but the city has improved a lot. I think it is showing a bit of charm, actually.”

Blanc confirmed former United forward Angel di Maria is fit to face City this week having been rested at the weekend as a precaution over a knock sustained on recent international duty.