Carlo under pressure as PSG face Porto
Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti may be battling for more than first place in Group A against FC Porto on Tuesday.
The Italian may be fighting for his future amid reports that the club's rich Qatari owners have lost patience following a terrible run of domestic form.
Ancelotti refused to answer a question about his future at the club, but did acknowledge he is feeling the strain.
"I think all managers have to try and cope with difficult times when they come. The pressure on tomorrow's game is normal," Ancelotti said Monday at the pre-match news conference. "I'm focused on finding a right solution and I'm convinced we will - whether it's in 10 days, 15 days or one month. But PSG will be competitive, that's for sure."
Saturday's 2-1 loss at Nice was PSG's third in the past five league games and came only days after they were knocked out of the League Cup quarterfinals by Saint-Etienne on penalty kicks.
"In our last match we didn't have the right attitude, focus, we let in soft goals," Ancelotti said. "Tomorrow is the chance to get a result and to get our spirit back out on the pitch ... The players are sorry about the Nice game and very motivated to get a result."
Ancelotti snapped after the Nice loss, which knocked PSG out of the top three places and left them five points behind leader Lyon. He promises radical changes to his team and his management style, but the changes may come elsewhere.
Sports daily L'Equipe reported Monday that owners QSI have had enough. Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger have been put forward as a potential replacement for Ancelotti.
"Sometimes criticism is deserved. Everyone at PSG is sorry because we haven't started the season well," Ancelotti said. "But things will change. Maybe when you build a new team you have problems, and we've had a few problems."
Ancelotti and sporting director Leonardo were seen as the perfect tandem to lead PSG to glory, but their impact has fallen way below expectations. Last season, coach Antoine Kombouare was replaced by Ancelotti before the winter break - even though PSG was three points clear of Montpellier and still involved in the French Cup under Kombouare.
"Of course we're well aware that we're far away from the standards required of us," PSG left back Maxwell said through a translator. "What we need to do is talk among ourselves - and I hope it stays among ourselves - and work hard for that change to come."
PSG must beat Porto at Parc des Princes to finish at the top of the group - but the Portuguese club will be feeling confident after beating PSG 1-0 earlier this season.
"This match is important for two reasons: to get first place in the group and secondly it's a great opportunity to play against a big club like Porto, to forget our defeat against Nice and to get our confidence back," Ancelotti said. "The match is important for that, not for other things."
Porto lost for first time in an official game this season last weekend, going down 2-1 to Braga in the Portuguese Cup to end their 18-match unbeaten record. But Porto are still unbeaten in the domestic league, where they haven't lost since last January, and share top place with Benfica, while PSG have slipped down to fourth in the French league.
Porto coach Vitor Pereira said his team will play positively and isn't overly concerned about the threat posed by top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"Despite all of PSG's qualities, we will be aggressive in the right sense of the world and play in Porto's image, which is to keep going forward," he said through a translator. "PSG isn't just Ibrahimovic, but I'm focused on my team and on playing collectively."
Brazilian centre back Maicon is out with a right ankle injury but otherwise Porto will be at full strength.
In Group A's other match, Dinamo Zagreb must beat Dynamo Kiev to avoid another humiliating Champions League campaign. Last season, Dinamo lost all six group games and has lost five this time - conceding 13 goals without scoring one.
Dynamo flew to Zagreb without coach Oleg Blokhin, who still cannot travel with the team for medical reasons.
On Friday, Dynamo beat Hoverla Uzhgorod 4-2 to remain in third place in the domestic league, 14 points behind leader Shakhtar Donetsk.
Meanwhile, Dinamo labored to a 1-0 home win against Lokomotiva to remain 10 points clear at the top of the Croatian league.