Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Cashico Conclusions: What did we learn from PSG 1-1 Monaco?

Sunday night's show-down at the Parc des Princes ended with honours even, as Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco played out a 1-1 draw.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic emphatically opened the scoring early on from close-range after a delicious cross from Maxwell. Ibra referred to Maxwell as a teddy-bear a few weeks back, and the pair certainly enjoyed a long and loving cuddle following the goal.

Alas, the lead didn't last long, with Falcao bundling in an equaliser from Joao Moutinho's cross. Merde. PSG had chances to regain the lead, notably through Ibra twice, then late on via Edinson Cavani, but couldn't find the winning goal their performance probably merited.

So a point a piece, and the status quo remains at the top of Ligue 1. But what did we learn from the game? Here are some points to consider, in a format not in any way ripped from the Guardian.

1) Selling Sakho was a bad idea. We didn't so much learn this as have it reiterated to us in the strongest possible terms. "I'm very proud to come here tonight," said Mamadou Sakho, as he bid the Parc des Princes a tearful farewell on the pitch before the match. "I remember when I was young, I was up there, there in the stands and watched PSG play. I have now turned a page, but my story with PSG isn't over yet."

With the new Liverpool defender watching from the stands, PSG lost Thiago Silva early on to a thigh strain, which is set to keep him out for three weeks. If only we had had a young, athletic, commanding centre-back to bring off the bench in his place. Instead on came dear old Papus Camara, who was promptly beaten to the ball by Falcao for the equaliser.

2) Blanc isn't scared to tell the players what he thinks. Laurent Blanc wasn't everybody's first choice to take over from Carlo Ancelotti. In fact, it's doubtful if he was anyone's first choice, including the club's. But he seems to have his feet under PSG's expensive table now, and was forthright in his assessment of his side's display on Sunday.
"Without taking anything away from Monaco, who played very well, but given the number of scoring opportunities we had tonight, I think we probably deserved to win," he said. "We could have been a little more decisive in front of goal. To score only one goal with all of those chances, it isn't a great ratio." 
It would have been easy for the boss to pussy-foot around the chances spurned by his costly strike-duo of Ibrahimovic and Cavani, so well done to him for saying what everyone watching could see.

3) PSG need magic Marco. PSG created an abundance of chances in the match, with playmaker Marco Verratti at the heart of most of their best work going forward. When on form like this, the pugnacious Italian makes PSG tick, and provides creativity in midfield that his colleagues don't possess. When Verratti is quiet, or is focussing his energies on moaning at the officials, we can look pedestrian in the centre of the park, and Blanc's challenge will be to get the teenager performing on a consistent basis and take some pressure off the man-mountain that is Blaise Matuidi.

4) Monaco's defensive dallies. Given that they have an almost completely new team, Monaco have started the season very well. Certainly in the other matches I've seen they've been playing better football than PSG were in the early stages of their "project" (sorry). 
But if they are going to challenge for the title they need to tighten up at the back. Their full-backs were exposed too often, with no support from rampaging wingers Ocampos and Ferriera-Carrasco. And at centre-back, Eric Abidal and Ricardo Carvalho, though undoubtedly classy, looked painfully slow and liable to be caught out by a quick through ball or pass over the top. With games coming thick and fast, Ranieri will need to make sure he manages their ageing legs or they will end up costing him goals.

5) The Chapron Effect. After a cracking first half the game fizzled out after the break. This was in part due to Monaco shutting up shop and settling for a point, but it wasn't helped by the constant blasts on the whistle from referee Tony Chapron. "Monaco seem to be getting all the 50/50 decisions", noted BT Sport co-commentator Stuart Robson, seeing what seasoned PSG supporters will recognise as The Chapron Effect. Leaving aside any bias he may or may not have against us (I'm sure in his head he thinks he's being completely fair) Chapron is a consistently poor referee, and I wish the FFF would stop selecting him for big games.


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