Sunday, 10 March 2013

PSG 2-1 Nancy: Ibra at the double, Lucas injury trouble

Nancy are one of those teams that traditionally cause Paris Saint-Germain a lot of problems.

Admittedly a lot of teams cause us problems, but the lads from Lorraine have a particularly impressive record against PSG, and indeed did the double over us last season, winning 1-0 on each occasion.

So while yesterday's 2-1 victory at Parc des Princes may not look like anything to write home about, it was a significant victory for PSG, and one which puts us five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of Lyon's big match this evening against third-place Marseille.

"The first half was like our performances at Sochaux and Reims," noted boss Carlo Ancelotti afterwards.

"But at half-time I told the players to show a different attitude. There was no movement, no intensity to our passing. But that's normal, it's nothing new. Two and a half days after a Champions League match you can't have the same intensity. The next three weeks will be important. We will be able to work well and recuperate."

Personally I don't like this business of blaming the Champions League for all our ills. We're not some team of rookies enjoying our first adventure on the big European stage; most of our team have played in the Champions League in the past, and should be used to the challenges it brings. But it's true that since the first leg against Valencia we've been off the boil.

Yesterday's first half performance was a steaming pile of merde. Though Blaise Matuidi should have opened the scoring when he broke clear but could only fire into the side netting with the goal at his mercy, Salvatore Sirigu was the busier of the goalkeepers, saving well from Lossemy Karaboué and Yassine Jebbour.

It came as no surprise when the visitors opened the scoring through Benjamin Moukandjo. It was a really poor goal from a defensive point of view, with Pastore surrendering the ball meekly in midfield, allowing Bakar to find Moukandjo, and though his initial shot was blocked by Sirigu he was able to head the rebound over the prone keeper and Thiago Silva on the line.

The second half was a different story. Ibra had already gone close when a mistake from Puygrenier presented the ball to substitute Jeremy Menez, and he was able to poke a pass through to Zlatan, who wasn't likely to miss with the keeper at his mercy.

Three minutes later the game was turned on it's head, as a cracking through ball from Verratti found Ibra galloping clear like a rampaging tyrannosaurus. For some reason goalkeeper Gregorini came haring off his line but got nowhere near the ball, and Ibra was able to continue unchallenged and shoot into the empty net.

Ibra was feeling spiky after the match, having apparently taken exception to some booing the team were subjected to at half-time: "They [the fans] ask a lot," said the big Swede. I'm surprised he's only just noticed.

He continued: "This is strange in view of what they had in the past. Because before, they had nothing. I've played in many big clubs and I know that nothing is ever easy."

While it's a tad disrespectful to say the club previously "had nothing", it's fair to say that some of the fans at the Parc can be a little on the demanding side.

One negative to come out of Saturday's match was an injury to Lucas Moura, who had to be substituted after turning his ankle following a challenge from Benjamin Mangani. As you can see from the photo below, the Brazilian's ankle has swollen up like a flesh-coloured balloon.

"It was a very dangerous tackle. I am still in shock after this," he said. "It is the same ankle that was hit against Valencia. I hurt both sides. I do not want to push it because I feel that it is very fragile. I hope this is not serious."

Speaking of wingers, Tottenham's Gareth Bale has been busy negotiating a new contract in public giving an interview to Telefoot, in which the subject of PSG inevitably reared it's head.

"PSG are a great team, they have signed great players," said Bale, who was obviously in the mood for stating the bleeding obvious.

He continued: "They're a team to follow, a bit like Manchester City. [But] they are still not at the level of great clubs. Not like Bayern [Munich], Real [Madrid] or Barcelona."


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