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Mar, 5, 2013

Ancelotti tells PSG: Forget first leg win

Carlo Ancelotti has warned his Paris Saint-Germain team to forget about their first leg result and seize the great opportunity they have to reach the Champions League quarter-finals when they face Valencia on Wednesday.

• Valverde: Valencia must attack PSG
• Beckham in PSG squad
• Blog: Limp PSG go down

The French league leaders certainly start favourites to progress ahead of the second leg in the French capital following their 2-1 triumph at La Mestalla in February. Despite his team's handy advantage, Ancelotti, 53, told the media he would urge his squad to step out at the Parc des Princes as if the tie was evenly-balanced.

"We have to play our game with our qualities and character," the former Chelsea boss said. "I think we have to forget the first leg result, and play our best for 90 minutes. We can't counter-attack throughout the game. We have to defend and attack well, control the game. That's our objective.

"We have a great opportunity tomorrow. For the club, the fans, the players - for many of them, it would be the first time through to the quarter-finals - and for me, too. It's important to have the same attitude as in the first leg, not to think we have the advantage, and be focused for 90 minutes."

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic serving the first of a two-game ban following his red card in Spain and Jeremy Menez injured, Ancelotti acknowledged Kevin Gameiro could well make his Champions League debut up front.

David Beckham, whose last appearance in the competition came for Real Madrid in 2007, "could play", as Ancelotti himself said, with Marco Verratti suspended, though the Italian hinted he may also alter his preferred 4-4-2 formation for the game.

One certainty is that Thiago Silva will play - and likely captain the side - for the first time in nearly two months after recovering from a thigh injury.

"Thiago is a great player, everyone's happy he's back. He's in top condition. I expect him to use his qualities to improve the team's play," Ancelotti said.

"I'll ask him to do the same thing as the other players. We have to play as a team as we did in the first leg. When PSG play as a team, they're very dangerous."

Though they have managed to hang on to top spot in Ligue 1, two defeats in their last three league outings have rather tarnished the lustre of PSG's impressive first-leg triumph in Spain.

Last weekend's 1-0 loss at lowly Reims provoked sporting director Leonardo to suggest Ancelotti's squad was better equipped to compete with Europe's elite than the French top-flight's bottom feeders. Silva, 28, insisted his compatriot's claims had not added to the weight of expectation on the PSG squad.

"All of us play for results, the coach and the players. Results are important for everyone. We players, for example, if we don't score or concede we can lose our place in the team. Pressure is constant in our job, but it's also positive as it motivates us to give our all," the Brazilian international said.

"The Champions League is magical and can make us more focused, ensure we have 100% concentration, which is perhaps not always the case in Ligue 1. I'm ready, and I feel the team is ready to meet this opponent."

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