Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain warmed up for its Champions League match against Arsenal next week with a tepid 1-1 home draw against Saint-Etienne on Friday night.
Life after star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is proving complicated for PSG, which has taken one point from two matches following a 3-1 defeat at Monaco before the international break.
PSG opened the scoring with a penalty from Brazilian winger Lucas midway through the second half, but paid the price for poor defending when Slovenia forward Robert Beric equalized in the third minute of injury time.
“Of course we’re disappointed when we play like that in front of our home fans,” Lucas said. “But we need to be very patient. We’re still a very good side.”
PSG will need an improved performance against Premier League side Arsenal on Tuesday.
At Parc des Princes, winger Hatem Ben Arfa missed a good first-half chance for a PSG side that is rebuilding without Ibrahimovic, who has joined Manchester United, and under new coach Unai Emery, who replaced Laurent Blanc.
PSG won back-to-back trebles under Blanc, but he was fired after PSG failed to progress beyond the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Since Qatari investors QSI took over five years ago, hundreds of millions have been invested on players – but PSG has not reached the last four of Europe’s most prestigious competition since 1995.
Keen to improve PSG’s chances in Europe, president Nasser Al-Khelaifi replaced Blanc with Emery – who last season guided Sevilla to a third straight Europa League title.
“We’re looking at what the coach wants to change and what he wants us to do,” Lucas said. “We must improve quickly because the league is difficult. You can’t drop points at home.”
Considering its wealth, PSG’s recruitment was fairly modest and the players who left grabbed more headlines than those who came in. As well as losing Ibrahimovic, who did not sign a new contract, Emery sold versatile defender David Luiz back to Chelsea, depriving PSG of two of its key players.
Emery signed Ben Arfa from Nice and 23-year-old Spanish forward Jese from Real Madrid. But Jese started only 14 league games for Madrid in the past three seasons, and was arguably not a big loss.
Gritty Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak was signed from Sevilla while right back Thomas Meunier joined PSG from the unheralded Belgian league.
Hardly inspiring signings.
Meunier was involved in the mix-up that led to Saint-Etienne’s last-gasp equalizer as panicky PSG failed to deal with a routine cross from the right.
“We shouldn’t concede a goal like that,” Lucas said. “We know that we must improve.”