The New York Red Bulls kick off Emirates Cup play on Saturday morning at 9AM ET, as they take on legendary French club Paris Saint-Germain in North London. Rather than keep to the normal "Three Questions" format we use for league games, we thought it would be more instructive to ask five questions of a knowledgeable source.
Alexis Gourgand, a longtime PSG fan and blog contributor, was kind enough to drop some knowledge on us about his club, who are currently on the upswing after an injection of cash from Qatar, the capture of Leonardo as Sporting Director and the arrival of a host of new players, including Jeremy Menez, Mohamed Sissoko and Salvatore Sirigu. You can find Alexis on Twitter at @Alexi_G.
Let's get to it:
1) Once a Metro: PSG finished the 2010-11 season just out the Champions League places. After a few years when they finished mid-table or lower, they seem to be back among the elite in France. What has made the difference?
Alexis Gourgand: Stability. For the first time in years there has been stability around the club, thanks to players like Claude Makélélé, Ludovic Guily and Gregory Coupet. Great players, but even moreso great leaders in the locker room. Getting Néné was also a big part of making last season a success. He was one of the best players in Ligue 1 player last season and has been a big key to PSG's resurgence.
2) Once a Metro: Americans not familiar with Ligue 1 probably don't know much about your manager, Antoine Kambouaré. What can you tell us about him and what style of football does he like to play?
AG: Kombouaré is a former PSG great. He's a young but very energetic manager who's well-respected by his players and others managers around Ligue 1. He wants his team to play an offensive but physical type of soccer. He' doesn't mess around with players and demands respect in the locker room, but he's willing to give freedom to his players if they keep working hard.
3) Once a Metro: How will the arrival of ex-Inter Milan manager Leonardo as Sporting Director change things around the club? Can he and the manager work together?
AG: Leonardo will have a big impact on the club. He's well known and respected around the world. It will be up to him to restructure the squad and bring in new players. Some big named managers have been linked to PSG, but so far they have chosen to keep Kombouaré around. Leonardo and Kombouaré are close, but at the end of the day if the club struggle early on, Leonardo probably won't hesitate to fire Kombouaré.
4) Once a Metro: At the end of last season, PSG was purchased by the Qatar Investment Authority. How has that impacted their summer transfer activity? Who are some of the new players they have brought in or targeted?
AG: A huge impact. PSG has already brought in five good players: Nicolas Douchez, Kevin Gameiro, Blaise Matuidi, Milan Bisevac and Jeremy Menez. But QSI and Leonardo are also rumored to be targeting big names such as Paulo Henrique Ganso and Javier Pastore. Ganso is only 21 but every big club in Europe is looking at him. PSG being in the conversation for players such as Ganso and Pastore shows the impact QSI has had.
5) Once a Metro: Who should New York fans watch out for in this match - and how seriously is PSG taking the Emirates Cup?
AG: You have to think PSG will take the Emirates Cup pretty seriously, this being their last tournament before the start of the Ligue 1 on August 6. Kombouaré will also try to give some playing time to new additions, including Jeremy Menez and Blaise Matuidi. New York fans should keep an eye on Néné. He's probably the most exiting player on the team - a very skilled attacking midfielder/left winger who likes to take chances. Newly added striker Kevin Gameiro is also someone to watch out for. He's fast, agile and doesn't need many chances to score.
Thanks again to Alexis for taking the time to speak with us.
If you have ESPN3, they will be offering a live stream of the match.