Monday, 2 September 2013

PSG 2-0 Guingamp: King Sakho is dead, long live Prince Rabiot?

Today is a sad one for Paris Saint-Germain fans, with the news that Mamadou Sakho has completed his transfer to Liverpool.

I'm sure we'll all miss Mamad's happy smiling face and fondness of over-sized baseball caps, not to mention his usually rock-solid defending. Time pressures permitting, I'm planning a tribute piece for tomorrow's blog, so will go into more detail then.

News of Sakho's impending departure broke on Friday, and there was a certain symbolism about Adrien Rabiot getting on the scoresheet as PSG beat Guingamp 2-0 at the Parc des Princes on Saturday afternoon. With Sakho and Clement Chantome gone, the club needs a new home-grown hero and the precocious Rabiot could well fit the bill.

Though only 18, anyone who has seen Rabiot play will confirm that, in the immortal words of Harry Redknapp, he's going to be a top top player. He effortlessly glides around the pitch like a swan, belying his tender years, and with half a season's experience playing in the first team on loan at Toulouse under his belt, the time feels right for him to be integrated into the PSG side on a regular basis. There's a good piece about his background on In Bed With Maradona, which you can read here.

"It is true that two of the club emblems [Sakho and Chantome] are gone and it may be time for me to take over," said Rabiot afterwards. "There is also Hervin Ongenda. It's not extra pressure. But I hope there will be others behind me

"I scored for Paris and it's like a childhood dream. Tonight, something extraordinary happened. In addition, I saved the team."

I don't want to put too much pressure on young shoulders, but the teenager could also save us from having to watch too much more of Javier Pastore, who put in another insipid performance as PSG snuck past their newly-promoted opponents thanks to Rabiot and another stoppage-time strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Having said on Friday that he sees JP as a number 10, Laurent Blanc promptly stuck El Flaco in midfield again, and the Argentinian left the field to a chorus of boos when he was replaced by Rabiot in the 64th minute.

Overall it wasn't an amazing display from PSG, but we got the job done and I think it's important not to be too harsh on the team. They amassed nearly 70 per cent of possession, had 25 shots on goal and hit the woodwork twice through Ibra and Thiago Silva, who is making a habit of striking the frame of the goal this season.

Statistics aren't the be-all and end-all of course, and it's worrying that it took us more than 90 minutes to put a chance away. But if you're having possession and creating a lot of opportunities then it doesn't take much of an improvement to start scoring goals and winning football matches; this is still a team getting used to a new coach and integrating a new star player (Cavani), and I'm confident it won't be long before we hit our stride properly. If we weren't having the chances to miss I'd be a lot more worried.

Against Guingamp our pressure told in the 91st minute; Motta's free kick was headed goalwards by Alex, goalkeeper Samassa parried the ball out and Rabiot was on hand to shin in his first goal for the club.

Moments later Zlatan wrapped things up when he took advantage of some hesitant play from Samassa and Jérémy Sorbon to rob the defender and smash the bouncing ball into the net.

The win takes PSG up to fourth in the table going into the international break. We resume Ligue 1 duties on September 13 away at Bordeaux before table-toppers Monaco's visit to the Parc des Princes on September 22. Woof.


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