Monday, 18 February 2013

Sochaux 3-2 PSG: Pegged Bak by Les Lionceaux

So apparently reports of Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 title win last week were greatly exaggerated.

All and sundry were announcing we'd all-but wrapped up the Championship after taking a six-point lead into this latest round of games. It's easy to see why anyone would leap to that conclusion, but it ignores the fact that PSG are masters of snatching disaster from the jaws of triumph.

Exhibit A: 2-0 up away in the Champions League with a minute to go, and WHAM; goal conceded, best player sent off.

Exhibit B: Away game against a side battling the drop, in a stadium where our record is awesome, and BAM, a 3-2 defeat and a performance as limp as a week-old lettuce.

"For me, the title race is not back on as we never thought it was finished just because we had a six-point lead," said Carletto, having seen both OM and OL win their matches to close the gap between us and the chasing pack to four and three points respectively.

"We deservedly lost. Sochaux played solidly, and were more aggressive than us. We had a problem with balance within the side throughout the game, and allowed them to counter-attack on numerous occasions.

"I'm not annoyed, we've won a lot of games since the start of the season."

It's good to hear the gaffer so level headed, and you have to give great credit to Sochaux, who were the better team throughout the match. Eric Hely's side have good quality players, and if they perform like that on a regular basis for the rest of the season they shouldn't have too much difficulty beating the drop.

For me Carletto got his team selection all wrong, with Clement Chantome replacing the injured Lucas on the right flank. This meant the only real pace in attack came from Lavezzi, and for the most part he was easily snuffed out by the home defence, who also denied Ibra and Pastore any space or time on the ball. Chantome didn't even offer much cover to his full-back, and we were exposed on our right every time Sebastien Roudet and Jerome Roussillon surged forward.

Debutant Giovani Sio had the ball in the net early for the pumped-up home side, only to be denied by a debatable offside call. They also had a good penalty shout turned down when the ball appeared to strike Chantome on the arm after a free kick from Ryad Boudebouz.

Sochaux's cause was helped by the fact that Salvatore Sirigu appeared to have decided to take a night off, so hired a body double to take his place between the sticks. That's the only plausible explanation for the Italian's uncharacteristically inept performance, which saw him fumble straight forward shots all over the place, as well repeatedly kicking the ball either into touch or straight to an opposition player.

The biggest surprise of the game was that PSG ended up taking the lead in the 29th minute. Pastore floated a corner in from the right and Alex climbed highest to loop a header into the top corner for his first goal of the season.

Usually once PSG get in front the outcome of the match is as predictable as your average Scooby Doo cartoon, but Les Lionceaux hit back within seven minutes. Boudebouz was the architect with superb ball played round the corner for Roudet to run onto, and he did the rest with a low finish across Sirigu into the far corner.

Boudebouz has spectacularly shit hair, but is a decent player, and was involved in the move which led to Sochaux hitting the front in the 54th minute. He found Sio, who played a one-two with Roudet before sprinting clear and driving a low finish under Sirigu for a deserved debut goal. Sirigu should have done better with the shot, but could only deflect it up and into the net via the underside of the bar.

The oustanding Sebastien Corchia then struck the inside of the post with a free kick as the home side pressed for a third, but PSG levelled matters with a scruffy goal 15 minutes from time. Again it came from a right wing corner, which was helped on by Alex and Lavezzi, allowing Mamadou Sakho to prod the ball home off the shins of Roussillon. The LFP have apparently given the goal to Sakho, which is extremely charitable of them as it looked like an OG to me. 2-2.

Those pesky lion cubs refused to go away though, and their enterprise was rewarded in the 83rd minute with the winner. Boudebouz dug out a delicious cross with his weaker right foot, and PSG's defenders stood and watched as substitute Sloan Privet nodded down for another replacement, Cedric Bakambu, to sweep the ball in from six yards.

For me it's too easy to blame the performance on a Champions League hangover, as Ancelotti did afterwards. The squad had five days to recover from their exertions in Valencia, and should have had enough in the tank to see off a team which is low in confidence, especially after taking the lead. For me it's more likely to be down to complacency, and this defeat might have come at an opportune time. If the players needed a reminder that they haven't won anything yet, that was certainly it.

Man of the Match: Mamadou Sakho - Very difficult to single anyone out after such a poor all round display, but I don't remember Big Mama doing anything wrong, and he scored. Sort-of.


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