Monday, 16 April 2012

Auxerre 1-1 PSG: Meet the new team, same as the old team

If only they knew all my powers come from that plaster on my nose
Much has been said and written this season about Paris St-Germain losing it's identity in the wake of the QSI take-over, but sadly parts of said identity remain very much intact.

PSG have always brought expensive players, usually without any great success. The amount of star names - and their price tags - may be higher this season than they were during the days when we splurged on the likes of Jerome Rothen and Reinaldo (remember him?) but it's looking increasingly likely the end result will be the same.

Yesterday Montpellier presented Carlo Ancelotti's men with a great chance to go level at the top of Ligue 1 by surprisingly losing 2-1 at Lorient. Sadly Les Rouges-et-Bleu were unable to capitalise, conceding a goal four minutes from time to draw 1-1 with bottom-of-the-table Auxerre.

"We're taking things too easily. If we want to win the league, we can't play like that," said Ancelotti afterwards. "We have to change our attitude. Every match is difficult, and before this one, we had highlighted just how tough it would be against an Auxerre side in need of points to stay up. I'm annoyed with the players."

I'm annoyed with the players too, but I'm also annoyed with Ancelotti. Three minutes before the goal he substituted Matthieu Bodmer, who had a decent-ish game, for Diego Lugano. This meant a mass alteration of positions, with Christophe Jallet going into midfield, Bisevac shuffling across from centre-back to right-back and Lugano dropping into the centre of defence alongside Alex. I don't know whether Bodmer was injured or flagging or whatever, but it seems to me that totally reorganising your defence with seven minutes to go is asking for trouble, especially when your defence is as ropey as ours. 

Anyway, no-one was near Anthony La Tallec when he followed up to score after Sirigu had made a hash of a shot from Kossoko and Dennis Oliech had bundled the rebound against the post. It was another fine mess to add to the bulging sack of comically awful goals PSG have conceded this season, soon they'll be enough for a DVD low-lights compilation.

It would be harsh to criticise Sirigu too much, as the Italian had earlier made a blinding save to foil Oliech, who really should've scored with a free header from six yards. Indeed, at that stage it looked as though PSG would come away with the points despite another performance which put the lack in lacklustre. Auxerre had also struck the post through Kamel Chafni, and showed the kind of fight and spirit they'll need if they are to pull off an unlikely escape from relegation.

PSG were marginally better in the first half, but weren't able to get the goals they needed to kill off the match. Jeremy Menez should've scored after a delightful move involving Bodmer and Kevin Gameiro, who backheeled the ball into the winger's path. Jezza skipped round the keeper but slid the ball wide of the post with the goal gaping.

Nene opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, cutting in from the left before beating Olivier Sorin at his near post with a cute finish. We saw the best and the worst of the Brazilian in last night's match, and he should've made it 2-0 after the break when he was put clear on the goal before trying to walk round Sorin, who succeeded in making a block. A square pass to the unmarked Gameiro, or a more decisive finish, would surely have meant the game ended differently.

As it was the score remained 1-0 until La Tallec's late intervention. PSG are still only two points behind Montpellier, but it remains to be seen a) whether they'll give us another chance, and b) whether we'll be good enough to take it if they do.

Man of the Match: Blaise Matuidi - After recovering from his earlier injury problems, the all-action millieu-du-terrain is back to his best.


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