Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Panic on the streets of the Paris as PSG travel to Kiev

Ever hoped that if you ignore something it will go away? For the last couple of years I've been keeping my fingers crossed that Britain's coalition government is a figment plucked from the murky depths of my imagination. Each day I wake up in the hope that the country isn't being run into the ground by a bunch of dithering, right-wing, chinless wonders, and each day I'm left disappointed.

Similarly, I've been steadfastly blocking out the events at the Parc-des-Princes on Saturday evening, but having checked it turns out Paris Saint-Germain actually did lose 2-1 to nine-man Rennes.

I've got a few things I want to say because I've read some absolute merde on Twitter and various websites about this game, and PSG's form in general. Firstly, our supposed dependence on Zlatan Ibrahimovic; it would be lunacy for me to say that Zlatan isn't a massive part of our team - he's scored most of our goals, assisted a load of others, and even when he's playing badly keeps at least a couple of defenders occupied. But to say that without him we're doomed isn't reflected in the stats; our record sans-Ibra is W1 D2 L1, which isn't brilliant but is far from disastrous, especially when you consider that in one of the drawn games, Montpellier, we played with ten men for 85 minutes and still probably should have won.

But it's obvious that any team is going to be weakened if it doesn't have one of the best players in the world in it. Then you look at the other squad members who were out; both our proper right-backs were missing, so Papus Camara was pressed into service in a position that doesn't really suit him, especially at the grand old age of 33. The midfield lacked the rested Marco Verratti, so often the conductor of PSG's orchestra this season, and the calming presence of the injured Thiago Motta, who could have stood in for his compatriot as the team's quarter-back. Having watched the game I actually thought Pastore had a decent match, but he's always going to do his work higher up the pitch than Verratti, and without someone to link play we're back to the old problem of the front four looking completely isolated from the rest of the team.

So did we miss Ibra, or did we miss Ibra and a load of other players? I'd suggest the latter, but either way we should still have been able to see off a Rennes side who played with nine men for most of the second half. That we didn't was down to that elusive footballing quality; luck. PSG had 24 shots on goal, and amassed 18 corners, and on most days more than one of those 24 would have found the net. That's not to take anything away from Rennes, who defended magnificently, but usually if the opposition keep shooting the ball will eventually find it's way through. For me the result was just a freak one, rather than an indicator of a deeper malaise.

I don't think we're in crisis (Carletto's words), but I do think the coach has work to do. Arguably PSG's form has been patchy since the 1-0 defeat to Porto at the beginning of October; mostly we've been getting through games and coming out with a positive result, but not with the kind of swagger or efficiency that we saw in September, when we won five matches in a row and looked like a proper team. This could be down to complacency, or the impact of the Champions League, or something else, but whatever the reason is we need to up our game. Ligue 1 is there for the taking this season, but at the moment we show no signs of wanting to take it.

Attentions turn to matters European tonight, when we go to Kiev for a crucial Champions League match. A draw would see us safely into the knock-out stages, and mean that in all likelihood a win against Porto in the final group match would be enough to see us top the group. Given that PSG are usually about as potent in Europe as the aforementioned coalition government, it's probably best not to get ahead of ourselves though.

"Some things will actually change, especially tactically," noted Ancelotti in his pre-game press conference, before locking himself in a room with a blackboard and a value pack of chalk. "Players must take responsibility and I trust them. We have achieved great things there not so long ago and there is no reason why it will not come back."

We'll see what sort of the reaction the team, which will include added Zlatan, gives come 7.45pm tonight.


Sully said...

good lad

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