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French Ligue 1

Ligue 1 weekend preview

New Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is keen to get his reign under way as they begin the defence of their title at Montpellier.

Last Updated: 09/08/13 at 07:29 Post Comment

Laurent Blanc: Took over at PSG this summer

Laurent Blanc: Took over at PSG this summer

The former France captain's primary task is to at least match Carlo Ancelotti's achievement in winning Ligue 1 but he will also be expected to do well in the Champions League.

He inherits a squad which has been substantially strengthened with the arrivals of striker Edinson Cavani from Napoli and defender Marquinhos from Roma for a combined 95million euros.

But that does not alleviate the pressure for Blanc, who expects Ligue 2 champions and fellow big-spenders Monaco to give them a test in addition to last season's challengers Marseille and Lyon.

"A new season is starting with a few new players and a new coaching staff. It's normal that there's a little extra pressure," he told psg.fr.

"We want to win the league title, we are the team to beat this season.

"Monaco will be the biggest threat, considering the quality of their summer signings.

"I think Marseille and Lyon will also be there or thereabouts and, like every year, there will be a surprise team that throws their hat into the ring."

Cavani is slightly behind his team-mates' pre-season preparations following international duty with Uruguay in the Confederations Cup but Blanc is hopeful the 64million euro striker will be involved in tomorrow's curtain-raiser.

"After a personalised training programme Edinson rejoined training with the rest of the squad on Tuesday," he said.

"He is continuing to get back to top form and we will give him another 24 hours to see if he will travel to Montpellier.

"He arrived late and is behind the rest of the squad in terms of preparation, but he has worked hard to get ready as quickly as possible.

"Edinson and Marquinhos are just getting back to peak fitness. For the rest of the squad, we're not quite in top form, but we are close."

Less than 24 hours later the rest of Ligue 1 kicks off with Monaco travelling to Bordeaux.

It will be the first competitive outing in France for marquee summer signing Radamel Falcao, acquired from Atletico Madrid at a cost of 61million euros.

"We know that Falcao is a great scorer, if we call him El Tigre (the tiger) it is not for nothing," midfielder Mounir Obbadi told asm-fc.com.

"He fights for every ball, he's a fighter, you can go to war with him. He fights all the duels.

"It's very nice to have a striker like that. Despite his status, he is not afraid of the fight, it is very important for the team.

"If he gives the tempo, you can only get be competitive like him and try to give him the best assists."

Other matches on Saturday see Lyon, who finished third last season, at home to Nice, Evian host Sochaux, Lorient heading to Lille, Bastia going to Nantes and Rennes and Valenciennes at home to Reims and Toulouse respectively.

On Sunday, St Etienne head to Corsica for a meeting with Fabrizio Ravanelli's Ajaccio while Ligue 2 runners-up Guingamp host Marseille.

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