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Jan, 7, 2013

Ancelotti criticises underperforming stars

Carlo Ancelotti blasted Marco Verratti for being "too slow" and criticised internationals Javier Pastore and Christophe Jallet after seeing his star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side almost suffer a Coupe de France giant-killing.

• Blog: PSG Avoid Upset

The Italian rested the likes of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Sunday's trip to face fifth-tier Arras, but still fielded a starting XI in which goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez was the only player not have played senior international football.

The Ligue 1 leaders, however, gave themselves and their coach a fright, clinging on to a one-goal advantage for a nervy final seven minutes before finally seeing off their valiant amateur opponents 4-3.

"Tonight, all the players wanted to attack, there was no balance," Ancelotti grumbled after seeing his team switch off worryingly having taken a 2-0 lead inside ten minutes. "Jallet and Pastore didn't work well defensively. Verratti was too slow. He has to be more aggressive, better positioned on the pitch. Tonight, it wasn't the missing players we were lacking."

The game was all the more remarkable given PSG conceded three goals for the first time in all competitions this season after coasting into the winter break with four successive clean sheets in as many Ligue 1 victories.

"We were smug defensively, not focussed," Ancelotti, whose side now face fellow top-flight outfit Toulouse in the Round of 32, complained. "I'm not worried: we won, we're still in the Coupe de France and the next match will be different. I'm not surprised, though, I know the Coupe de France.

"When there is less quality, your opponent tries to make the match about intensity and aggression. Arras played superbly. At 2-0 after ten minutes, you think it'll be easy. And that's when the team did not concentrate on defending."

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