Tuesday, 23 August 2011

PSG's predictable start

Lots of things about French life perplex me: the strict adhesion to priorite a droite on the roads, the lack of public toilets, the continuing popularity of Michel Polnareff (above).

Another is Monsieur et Madame jokes. If you’re unaware of these, think of them the French equivalent of Knock Knock ... The format is as follows:

Q: Monsieur et Madame Bonneau ont un fils. Comment s’appelle t-il?
(Mr and Mrs Bonneau have a son, what’s his name?)
A: Jean

Geddit, Jean Bonneau said quickly sounds like jambonneau, or a leg of ham. There are millions of them out there, but I’ve come up with my own which I think is a cracker:

Q: Monsieur et Madame havehadadistinctlyaverageanddepressinglypredictablestarttotheseason ont un fils. Comment s’appelle t-il?

The answer of course is “PSG”, who in my absence have registered one win, one draw, and one defeat from their opening three league matches, finding time to stuff some bunch of jokers from Luxembourg 4-0 in the Europa League in between.

Sunday’s unconvincing yet vital 2-1 win over Valenciennes, courtesy of goals from Kevin Gameiro and Nene (pen), will have hopefully have lifted a bit of pressure from the shoulders of Antoine Kombouare. Thursday’s return leg against Diffedange (aforementioned jokers from Luxembourg) should be a formality, Sunday’s trip to unbeaten Toulouse less so.

The coach is, again unsurprisingly, finding it difficult to mould his hastily assembled squad into a coherent unit. And while the individual skill of the likes of Gameiro and Jeremy Menez will always offer a threat going forward, especially with Pastore now in contention, a lack of a team-work at the back cannot be glossed over.

In the absence of the injured Sakho and Armand, Leonardo has been mumbling non-committal stuff about buying a defender, with Werder Bremen’s Per Metersacker and Porto’s Rolando mentioned in dispatches.

Sadly the arrival of another striker seems more likely, with Marco Boriello and Diegos Forlan and Milito being touted as replacements for Mevlut Erding, who seems to have finally accepted that his days in the capital are numbered and could be on his way to Rennes this week. Then there is Kaka, a potential signing about which I could be more underwhelmed if someone called whelmed was sitting on my head. Eight more days of transfer window left, please just make it stop.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Pastore arrives (and I depart)

What a day. The Ligue 1 season will finally get underway, Javier Pastore has finally officially signed up at the Parc-des-Princes, and I'm finally going on holiday to, funnily enough, Paris.

It's been at breathtaking summer for the PSG, and though I won't be able to take in a match while I'm over there, I'm looking forward to sampling the atmosphere in the city. Hopefully when I return in two weeks we'll have nine points on the board and all will be well in the world. Allez!

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Emirates Cup and other stories

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Managers always argue results in pre-season are meaningless, but losing to a team named after an energy drink can never be a good thing.

PSG fielded two different sides for their Emirates Cup matches over the weekend, and achieved very different results.

On Saturday a team with a strong defence (Sirigu, Bisevac, Sahko) and a second-string attack (Erding, Luinduyla, Baheback) was beaten 1-0 by the New York Red Bulls, failing to break down the MLS side despite enjoying plenty of the ball.

Then on Sunday the attacking big-guns (Nene, Gameiro, Hoarau) were wheeled out for the clash with Boca Juniors, and the team performed much better, winning 3-0 with Hoarau, Jean-Eudes Maurice, and Marco Ceara finding the net.

While it was very much a weakened Boca outfit, there were certainly some positives to take from Sunday’s game. The way the front four – Nene, Gameiro, Hoarau and Neeskens Kebano – linked up was pretty slick. Hoarau in particular did his chances of winning a place in the side no harm at all with a good all-round performance and a typical headed goal.

Unfortunately for the Reunionnaise he may have to bludgeon his way past a Javier Pastore-shaped obstacle to get on to the pitch. Speaking after the match, Leonardo said the €43 move for the Palermo playmaker was almost complete.

“We're close,” said Leo. “There is a very good relationship between us and between Palermo and the player and us. This makes us optimistic.”

As if one marquee signing wasn’t enough, reports this morning suggest a €20million bid has been lodged for Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov.

If true this strikes me as a completely unnecessary move. The front end of the team looks pretty damn sexy already, but at the back the squad is short on depth.

Despite a decent performance from teenage keeper Alphonse Areola, Boca penetrated PSG’s back-line with alarming ease, and if QSI feel the urge to splash the cash again, perhaps it would be better spent on a centre-back to provide competition and/or cover for Sahko and Bisevac.

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