Sunday, 3 February 2013

Toulouse 0-4 PSG: Parisiens cruise as TFC snooze

Four has very much been the magic number for Paris Saint-Germain this season, so much so that I've used up my stock of quartet-related headline puns.

PSG have hit four goals in eight different league and cup games this season, the latest coming on Friday as we took a three-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 with victory in Toulouse. Lyon's surprise defeat at struggling Ajaccio today means that we also have an 13 goal advantage over Remi Garde's men in the goal difference stakes.

The victory in Toulouse was so comfortable it could have been on sale in the luxury section at DFS. We received a helping hand from the home side, who defended abysmally at times in the first half, not least when Ezequiel Lavezzi sprung a raggedy offside trap to reach Zlatan's lofted pass. Lavezzi's far post cross found Javier Pastore, who hit his half-volley down into the ground and saw it bounce up past goalkeeper Ahamada and a defender on the line before finding the back of the net.

Pastore got a deserved recall to the starting line-up after an impressive showing as a substitute against Lille. And he was in good form on Friday night, though it should be noted that he usually thrives in the kind of games where he's given acres of space to work his magic.

Toulouse had a few shots from distance, but nothing that looked likely to trouble the seemingly unbeatable Salvatore Sirigu, and Pastore and Lucas had gone close by the time Ibra took his tally for the season to 20 to make it 2-0. Lucas provided the ammunition with a delightful cross, and the Swede was unchallenged as he nodded past Ahamada. Remarkably Zlatan has scored in every away game he's played this season in Ligue 1, and he's eight goals ahead of his nearest rival in the 'race' for the golden boot.

It went from bad to worse for the home side when Chiek M'Bengue was shown a red-card three minutes before half-time. Having been harshly booked for a foul on Lucas near half-way, M'Bengue made a rash lunge on the Brazilian down by the corner flag to earn a second booking.

Having done his work for the night, referee Chapron went off with an injury at half-time, and his replacement Sebastien Desiage turned down a couple of half-hearted Toulouse penalty appeals in the opening minutes of the second period.

But it was at the other end where most of the action was occurring, with Zlatan and Ahamada involved in a personal duel which, to his credit, the keeper probably won. He denied Ibra with a diving save after good work from Pastore, then made an athletic parry to tip the ball over the bar after a great piece of skill from the striker saw him dig out a goal-bound lob from the edge of the box. When Zlatan finally did beat the keeper moments later, a defender cleared his shot off the line.

More goals weren't far away though, and another delicious centre from Lucas allowed Sakho to gobble up his first goal of the season at the back post. Two minutes later terrific foot work from Ibra saw him glide past three tackles before setting up substitute Gregory van der Wiel for a simple tap-in.

With PSG performing so well, the question is where does David Beckham fit in? Nobody seems to know, but what is certain is that after the game the club's great and good were queuing up to kiss Golden Balls' golden backside.

"He is humble and of good character," said Ancelotti. "As a coach, if you have 20 players like Beckham in the squad it makes the job easier."

"He's really an example," added Leonardo, looking smugger than Piers Morgan/Bono hybrid having finally got his man. "He is very strict with himself and accepts this challenge as he feels he has the ability to do things on the pitch. 

"He sees himself as a player, and is not there to laugh and take pictures but to win games and titles. He is committed to it, and is not here for any other purpose."
Well that clears that one up then, ahem. Apparently the players aren't immune to Beckham-mania either - even the mighty Zlatan seems to be under his spell; "He has a lot of experience and qualities, especially mental qualities, because it is a winner," said he Swede. "This is what we need and he will be a great help. I do not know the date of his arrival but I'm sure he will do great things in Paris."
"For younger people, it will help us to raise our level of play," said Blaise Matuidi. "He made us dream with his magic feet. I hope he will continue in Paris"

Becks and his, er, magic feet are due to start training on February 16, so we're not likely to see him in action before the end of the month.


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