Posted on Feb 18
Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has played down Montpellier's achievement in mounting a surprise title challenge to his side, ahead of the showdown between the top two at Parc des Princes on Sunday.
PSG go into the game a point clear of second-placed Montpellier, but while the league leaders' success has been constructed on the billions of owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), Montpellier's resources pale in comparison.
Rene Girard's young side, who finished 14th in Ligue 1 last season, have a budget for the season of just 36 million euros ($47.3m), which is the seventh-smallest budget in the division.
They are therefore punching well above their weight in the title race, but Ancelotti does not feel economic concerns should be taken into consideration when assessing the relative merits of the two teams.
"I don't think that the result tomorrow (Sunday) will be linked to economic factors," he said when asked if he was surprised by Montpellier's success.
"Everyone respects the work and the objectives of Montpellier and everyone should respect the objectives and the work of PSG.
"PSG have a great objective, which is to build a great team for Ligue 1 and the Champions League. Having people coming to France to put money into doing something significant, everyone should respect that."
Sunday's match represents a first real test at PSG for Ancelotti, who has overseen six wins and one draw in the seven games since he took over following the dismissal of Antoine Kombouare in December.
PSG won 3-0 in September's reverse fixture but Girard's side are now the form team in the country, having won all seven of the games they have played in 2012 without conceding a goal.
Victory at Parc des Princes would lift Montpellier above PSG but Ancelotti does not see the game as a championship decider.
"It'll be a very important match but I don't think it'll decide the ultimate victory," said the Italian, who is bidding to end PSG's 18-year wait for a league title. "We still have 14 matches to play and they'll all be important."
He added: "There should be a great atmosphere at the Parc, which will be full with a new pitch. I think it'll be a fantastic evening.
"But every match is a test. If we want to win Ligue 1, we'll have to beat Montpellier but also Ajaccio and all the others."
Montpellier's challenge will be spearheaded by Olivier Giroud, whose 16 goals make him the top scorer in the division, and Ancelotti said it would be the responsibility of the entire team to keep on top of him.
"He's a fantastic goalscorer and a fantastic player. The whole team will have to control him to make sure he isn't able to express his qualities."