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Aug 8, 2013

Laurent Blanc feels PSG can challenge

Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc says that finishing second in Ligue 1 would be a failure, while also maintaining that his side can win the Champions League this season.

Johnson: PSG gear up for opener

Blanc, 47, took over from Carlo Ancelotti this summer and he will be expected to emulate the achievements of the Italian, who led PSG to their first French title in 19 years before leaving for Real Madrid.

The former France national team coach should face stiff competition from big-spending Ligue 2 champions Monaco, but Blanc insists that failing to retain the league title would not be good enough.

"Our target will not have been reached if we finish second," he told Le Parisien. "Our aims are clear -- to do as well as possible in all the competitions that PSG take part in. The Champions League? We want to do as well as, if not better than, last season."

PSG fell to Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals last season and Blanc feels that winning the competition is not an unrealistic objective this time around.

"PSG can win it like Chelsea did at the time when it was least expected," he said. "Everything depends on the draw, the seedings, the players who are in form at the time... I prefer to say that PSG has the potential to win the Champions League."

Blanc has already picked up his first piece of silverware in Paris, having led his side to victory in the Trophee des Champions against Bordeaux last weekend. His first league match is on Friday at Montpellier, the club where he started his career as a player.

The 1998 World Cup winner is expecting the opening game to be a sign of things to come over the course of their Ligue 1 campaign.

"It will be a difficult season, like it often is after winning the title," he said. "We have to follow up on last season and people would not understand if we didn't so that adds extra pressure.

"Our opponents are playing against the defending champions. They want to beat you at all costs and we're going to see that, starting from Friday in Montpellier."

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva, two key players in last season's title-winning team, both sought new deals at PSG over the summer.

Given their lofty reputations, Blanc was asked whether the pair would be subject to the same competition for places as the rest of the squad.

"Very few players can be considered untouchable," he added in Le Parisien. "There are some -- it's true -- but that's not specific to PSG or to my management. That's the way it is at all other clubs.

"Every coach has players -- men -- that they like. We know that the season will be long and that there will be turbulence. I have to know who I can count on... in certain positions I already have a very clear hierarchy, but in others I don't. It will be the matches and the performances that will decide."

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