Thursday, 26 September 2013

Valenciennes 0-1 PSG: Cavani's impeccable timing saves sluggish Paris

Paris Saint-Germain’s commercial department have been busy recently securing a range of new sponsorship deals.

Not content with having signed up Qatari telecoms firm Ooredoo (yes, they’re really called Ooredoo) and Nivea for Men in recent weeks, the club has now added Hublot as, wait for it, Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of PSG. What an honour for them.

“Paris is the European capital for good taste, elegance and luxury,” said Hublot’s CEO Jean-Claude Biver.

“Paris is the world tourism capital. And thanks to Paris Saint-Germain, Paris is the capital of European football. Hublot could afford to not be associated with this club and it is a privilege for Hublot to keep time for the future glorious hours of Paris Saint-Germain!"

Whether this sponsorship deal had anything to do with President Nasser buying a job lot of Hublots to give to the players is not mentioned in the press release.

Hopefully none of the Swiss firm’s representatives were watching yesterday’s match against Valenciennes, as it had little to do with elegance or luxury. Good taste was also in short supply due to Christophe Jallet’s continuing insistence of wearing his socks pulled up over his knees.

But PSG got the job done, winning 1-0 courtesy of Edinson Cavani’s goal on the stroke of half-time. Zlatan was the provider, poking the ball through for El Matador, who produced a super finish, holding off a defender whipping the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net.

It was “A PSG without ideas” noted France Football, and indeed the team struggled to create opportunities. Javier Pastore shot over when well placed in the first minute, and Ibra had a couple of half chances near the end which he couldn’t take, but other than that our attacking cupboard was distinctly bare.

Valenciennes saw a lot of the ball, but as often happens to teams at the bottom of the league table, weren’t able to do much with it. Their best chances came in the second half, with the excellent Marco Verratti heading a Lindsay Rose effort off the line, and substitute Anthony Le Tallec somehow failing to connect with a Dossevi cross late on.

So much for Laurent Blanc to ponder then, particularly the performance of the recalled Pastore, who failed to impress in a central role: "In an 'easy' away game, the playmaker was mired in bad choices and failed actions" was the damning verdict in Le Parisien this morning. Ho hum.

But we're in the middle of a difficult run of games, and the boss was happy to take the points and move on to Saturday's home fixture with Toulouse.

"It was painful at times, both on the pitch and off, because we had some problems with injuries,” said Blanc, who lost Alex at half-time to injury. “It was a difficult match in every sense, but the essential thing was to get the three points because we will have a lot of games like this over the course of the campaign.

“We knew this would be a difficult match. We started well but didn't get the goal, and you need to score when you are on top in football.

“This was one of these games where nothing went right for us but we still fought to come away with the essential thing, the result. The Monaco match cost us a lot of energy and we only had three days to recover."

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Valenciennes vs PSG: Ibra and his new deal dream of goals at the Stade de Hainaut

Paris Saint-Germain travel to Valenciennes tonight boosted by the news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed a one-year contract extension.

"I don't see a more ambitious club in Europe than Paris Saint-Germain,” said Zlatan, who is now contracted at the Parc des Princes until 2016. “My wish is that Paris Saint-Germain is my last big Club. This Club is like me: the dream is never big enough."

What a load of bollocks, if those words actually flowed from Zlatan’s lovely mouth in that order I’ll eat my shoes. I hate all the marketing rubbish that surrounds the club these days, it’s not like Ibra doesn’t provide good quotes without some press office flunky putting words into his mouth. And check out the photo of the Swede putting pen-to-paper, what’s that jumper all about? Hopefully now he has a new contract he’ll be able to afford some decent clothes.

Anyway, Zlatan will be eyeing more goals tonight when he and PSG return to Valenciennes, a ground where he scored a hat-trick last season in a 4-0 victory.

PSG will fancy their chances against a VA who are second from bottom of the Ligue 1 table with just one win to their name in six matches so far this season. On Sunday they were handed a 4-0 tonking by Nice, who celebrated the opening of their new stadium with a stylish victory. If things weren’t bad enough for boss Daniel Sanchez, he has now received the dreaded vote of confidence from club president Jean-Raymond Legrand.

“He [Sanchez] is not threatened,” said Mssr. Legrand. “I've had calls [about possible replacements], but I am not thinking about a successor. I want to continue with him.”

Expect Sanchez to receive Le P45 next week then. For the moment, Legrand has bigger questions on his mind, notably whether Zlatan will say hello to him at the match. Last season, Ibra was captured on camera snubbing the VA president, something he hopes won’t happen again.

"This time, I'll say hello to the players on arrival,” said Legrand. “And I hope he will not forget to greet me.”

If he’s lucky perhaps Zlatan will sign an autograph too. Legrand didn’t have a good time of it with PSG last season, as apparently President Nasser Al-Khelaifi wasn’t around to make nice with him in the return match at the Parc either.

"He [Al-Khelaifi] phoned me to apologize, and he wanted to do it in French,” he said. “Then he invited me, along with other presidents, to go see games tennis at Roland Garros in his box. "

That’s a good move from Nasser, free tennis tickets is a sure-fire way to win over the hearts and minds of a load of old French blokes.

The PSG team will be without Thiago Silva, who is out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury. Quelle merde. The returning Alex probably won’t be risked, with bigger games to come in the next ten days, so Marquinhos will continue alongside Zoumana Camara at centre-back. Jeremy Menez and Christophe Jallet could start as Laurent Blanc considers rotating his squad.

Valenciennes will be with PSG loane Jean-Christophe Bahebeck, who is ineligible for the match against his parent club.

Kick-off at the Stade de Hainaut is at the unhelpful time of 6pm GMT.

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.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

PSG vs Monaco: Countdown to Le Cashico

Friday, 20 September 2013

Starting to get worried about Zlatan? Don't

In their only hit of note, terrible pop band The Hoosiers were Worried About Ray.

As far as I know, most Paris Saint-Germain fans don’t share the group’s concerns about anyone called Ray – except Domenech perhaps – but some are starting to get worried about Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Last season Ibra’s goal output was consistently impressive, starting with a double on debut against Lorient and ending the season with an impressive total of 30 goals in 33 matches, making him the first player to score 30 Ligue 1 goals since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1989.

So far this term he hasn’t hit those heights, with one goal– a last minute strike against Guingamp – to show for his efforts in our opening five league games.

Throw in his penalty miss against Olympiacos, and the presence of New Big Name on the Block Edinson Cavani, and you can see why there has been some speculation about Ibra’s happiness levels.

The man himself says he’s not bothered about a lack of goals, and I for one am not going to argue with him.

"People are demanding," he said in a recent interview. "They always expect more of me.

"For an attacker, it is always important to score. But I do not want to be reduced to that. I try to play the game and help the team. I hope to deliver more assists.

"It's important for a team that the responsibility for scoring goals is shared. At PSG, we can always score a lot."

I think there’s a lot of truth in what he says. People always look for drama where Ibra is concerned, but in this instance I really don’t think there is anything to worry about.

Firstly, because the team is better off than it was last year. We have 11 points compared to last season’s nine, and eight goals  as opposed to last season’s six, five of which came from Zlatan. This is one of those cases where PSG – and Ibra – can’t win; at this time last year people were calling us a one-man-team, and now we’re patently not a one-man-team people are worried that the one man isn’t scoring enough.

It's not that he isn't getting into good positions either: WhoScored statistics show he's having 5.6 shots-per-game so far in 2013/14, compared to last year's 4.6. Alright so they're not going in, but I'd be more worried if he wasn't getting the chances.

Even leaving statistics aside, I know there’s not too much to worry about where Zlatan is concerned because I’ve seen him with my own eyes. In most games this season he’s still been our chief creative force – witness the sublime pass for Blaise Matuidi’s goal against Bordeaux, or the ball that put Maxwell in the clear to set up Cavani’s opener in Greece on Tuesday. If PSG put together a good move going forward, it’s a safe bet Ibra is involved.

The only elephant in the room is his relationship with Cavani; Is there space for both of them in the team? So far the evidence is inconclusive, with some great moments of interplay interspersed with times where they appear to be on completely different wave-lengths. But it’s still early days, and Cavani is not up to full speed yet, so they deserve a bit more time before sentencing is carried out on their relationship.

Manager Laurent Blanc has also played down his star man’s travails in front of goal: "I don't worry about Ibra,” he said at his press conference earlier today. “He is making assists and will find success [in front of goal]"

What can’t be denied is that Zlatan proved himself last season to be the man for the big occasion, getting the goals in the matches that mattered. I’m sure no-one would be surprised if he played a decisive role in Sunday’s Cashico with Monaco. If you ask me the only people who should be worried about Zlatan are the ASM defence.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Olympiacos 1-4 PSG: Greeks cornered by Motta and Co

Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?

Last season, Paris Saint-Germain began their Champions League campaign with a 4-1 win that featured a debut goal from a Brazilian centre-back. Fast forward 12 months and the same thing has happened again.

This year the opponents were Olympiacos, not Dynamo Kiev, and the debutant was Marquinhos not Thiago Silva, but the result and score-line remained happily unchanged. The only difference from last term is that this time we were away from home, making the win arguably more impressive.

That said, the team’s performance did not quite match the swashbuckling destruction of Kiev, but boss Laurent Blanc was still a happy man afterwards.

"It was a match of two halves,” he said. “We made too many mistakes in the first half, mostly because Olympiacos put a lot of intensity and pressure into their game in the early stages. In the second half, we found a certain balance and, as a team, we were a lot better. The Greek side also tired after a very energetic opening period."

Indeed, it was hard to see PSG taking anything from the game after an opening 30 minutes completely dominated by the home side. Vladimir Weiss gave us warning of what was to come inside the first minute when he smashed a powerful shot against the crossbar, and soon afterwards David Fuster picked up a half clear corner and struck a low shot which rebounded out off the inside of the post.

But then on 19 minutes we took the lead with a goal that couldn’t have been more against the run of play if we had been playing against a team called Athletico Run-of-Play. Matuidi seized possession and found Zlatan, who played an inch-perfect through ball for Maxwell, who had gone on a maraud and found himself inside the opposition penalty area. The Brazilian calmly scooped the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper to present Edinson Cavani with a simple finish. Matadors don’t miss open goals, 0-1.

Olympiacos soon resumed their dominance, with the tricky Weiss proving to be their chief threat. It was no surprise when he notched the equaliser, hurdling a Maxwell challenge before nut-megging Marquinhos, beating the exposed Thiago Silva and shooting past Sirigu. Golazo. 1-1.

The match calmed down a bit as half-time approached, and after the break things changed dramatically. PSG controlled the tempo as Olympiacos seemed to run out of steam, and Weiss became a peripheral figure. Helpfully, the home side also completely forgot how to defend corners.

Cavani had gone close with a low shot before we regained the lead in the 68th minute. Substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi’s corner found Thiago Motta, who had got away from his marker Samaris to head unchallenged past Roberto Jimenez. Five minutes later, the exact same thing occurred; Lavezzi corner, Motta header, boom. 3-1 and game over.

"I wasn't expecting the goals,” said non-psychic Olympiacos boss Michel. “If you watched them, you might rush to blame Samaris, but I won't. He had a great match in the first half and the way the game unfolded was very cruel on the lad. I'm to blame for the goals because I told the players who to mark.”

Marquinhos, who grew into the game after a shaky first half, added a fourth just before the end, the defender again finding space in the box from a corner to flick his header into the net. He looked pleased. In between times Zlatan had seen his penalty saved by Jiminez, who also managed to blocked the Swede’s attempt to force in the rebound. He did not look pleased.

While the score-line flattered PSG, we definitely deserved the points, and it’s good to get this season’s campaign off to a convincing start. On a night where the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United won big, Blanc’s men have put a marker down that they mean business too.

Man of the Match: Thiago Motta – Two goals and an assist for the Brazilian Italian, who also helped PSG dominate possession for much of the game.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Olympiacos vs PSG: Parisiens seek to use the force as Champions League returns

Tonight is the start of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League episode two: The Empire Strikes back.
One might argue we never really had an Empire in the first place, so it will be difficult to strike back, but what is true is that the squad assembled by the Emperor (President Nasser) and his evil side-kick Darth Vader (Leonardo) is currently in a galaxy far, far, away (Greece) preparing to taking on Olympiacos.

So far during his reign Laurent Blanc has often resembled one of those startled officers who has to hastily take command of the Death Star after Vader has bumped off his predecessor. But Friday night's match against former club Bordeaux saw PSG put in an impressive display, and the ex-France coach will be hoping for a repeat of that showing in the Karaiskakis Stadium.

"If we can win and play like we did against Bordeaux we will be very happy," said Blanc. "It also depends on our opponents. I know this stadium well after having come here as coach of Bordeaux and as a player with Manchester United. 

"The atmosphere will be electric, but we know it, but we are ready. We will try and control the possession and be more dangerous than our opponents."

I assume he means controlling the possession through our silky midfield skills, and not using any Jedi mind tricks. Perhaps I'm stretching this analogy a little bit too far.

Anyway, the boss continued: "Alex is injured and we have two players that can replace him. I have made my decision, but I will keep it to myself. 

"We will keep the same formation as against Bordeaux, even though I may change certain players. The aim is to play as well as possible to get a positive result and make a good start to this competition. It's a great challenge. 

"To go a long way in the Champions League, you have to take it step by step and the first step is the group stage. There are some great challenges coming up for Paris Saint-Germain."

Indeed, Blanc could opt for youth (Marquinhos) or experience (Zoumana Camara) to replace Alex, who picked up a thigh strain in training on Saturday. I reckon he'll give Marquinhos his debut. Edinson Cavani should return in place of Hervin Ongenda, and I'd expect the experience of Maxwell to give him the edge over Lucas Digne at left-back.

What do we know about Olympiacos? The Greek Super League champions are bossed by Real Madrid legend Michel, and their squad contains a curious mixture of nationalities that probably sums up top-level European football in 2012: Among Costa Ricans, Croatians, and, er, Roy Carroll, there are several familiar faces to Ligue 1 fans, including former Rennes defender Gaitan Bong, ex-Auxerre and Monaco man Delvin N'Dinga, and Sambou Yatabare, latterly of Bastia. Fans of old-school Championship Manager will also be pleased to note the presence of Javier Saviola on their roster - is there still time for him to become the best striker in the world before he retires? Probably not.

Last time Blanc was in Piraeus, he steered his Bordeaux side to a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Olimpiacos in February 2010. If he harnesses the power of our attacking force correctly, there's no reason history can't repeat itself.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bordeaux 0-2 PSG: Lucas gives Blanc Mour-a to smile about

So according to reports this weekend Gareth Bale turned down a switch to Paris Saint-Germain, while Cristiano Ronaldo was never really interested in the first place. Quelle surprise.

While I'm sure Laurent Blanc would be happy to have either or both of the Real Madrid posers wingers in his squad, he already has a wide-man of his own to be proud of after Lucas Moura played a starring role in PSG's 2-0 win at Bordeaux on Friday.

"Football is sometimes strange," said Blanc after our victory at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, which came courtesy of goals from Moura and big bad Blaise Matuidi. "Our job is to prepare the match all week, elaborate how we'll play, strategies to beat our opponents. This one we didn't prepare at all, absolutely not, we got some players back from international duty only last night. What I'm telling you is that a coach serves no purpose whatsoever."

Epic bantz from Blanc there, I'm sure all the listening journos were in stitches. To be fair the coach had good reason to smile after seeing his team put in what was their best performance of the season. 

It's also ironic he should come out with such a statement - even in jest - after a match in which we truly saw Blanc's PSG for the first time. By that I mean PSG looked like a team that was comfortable, purposeful and cohesive in possession. Carlo Ancelotti did a lot of good work during his time at the Parc des Princes, but his team was never one that could control games, relying instead on counter-attacks or moments of individual brilliance to get the job done.

For Blanc's PSG it's still early days, but the signs in the Bordeaux match were certainly very positive. The 4-3-3 formation undoubtedly helps us look a bit more fluid; often when we play 4-4-2 it feels like there are six defenders who operate on a completely separate pitch to the four attackers, with the two in midfield fighting a losing battle to win the ball and quickly turn it over. It also can't be a coincidence that our most impressive display to date came without the injured Javier Pastore to disrupt the balance of the side.

Bordeaux also helped by being fairly dreadful, and the result never looked in doubt once Matuidi had charged onto Zlatan's exquisite through ball to open the scoring in the 40th minute. Cedric Carrasso in the home goal did well to take some of the pace off of Blaise's initial shot, but the France midfielder reacted quickly to chase in and poke the ball over the line.

The second half was completely one-way traffic, with Moura, who was dashing around like a greyhound on acid, to the fore. The Brazilian scored his first PSG goal when he collected another pinpoint pass, this time from Verratti, to beat Carrasso at his near post. Further goals would have followed were it not for the brilliance of Carrasso, who twice saved well from Zlatan and prevented Lucas Digne from notching a debut goal.

"The team is starting to understand what we can do, and adhere to what we're proposing," added Blanc. "This evening's match, without preparation, is proof of that. 

"Bordeaux struggled in attack, but we have been very good in keeping possession. We've been working on that since 1 July, we really emphasise it and it's in this match that you could see it best."

Long may it continue. Certainly a possession-based game will serve PSG well if they are to make progress in this season's Champions League. Our European campaign begins on Tuesday in Greece, where we will face Olympiakos,

Man of the Match: Lucas Moura - Could Friday's match be the night where he came of age in a PSG shirt? Here's hoping.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Bordeaux vs PSG: Wedding bells for Leo as Blanc returns to old flame

Choosing who to invite to your wedding is not an easy business.

With limited space available, much of which is taken up by people who get invites by default (parents, siblings, pervy old uncles you only see once a decade), work colleagues can be a problematic area; who do you actually like enough to share your big day with? Will Miss Y the saleswoman get offended if she doesn’t get an invitation but her mate, Miss X the receptionist, does? It’s a complete minefield.

Former Paris Saint-Germain director of football Leonardo recently celebrated his marriage to Italian TV presenter Anna Billo. You may remember that Leo proposed to his long-term partner live on television earlier this year, a romantic move which didn’t seem to please the fragrant Miss Billo at the time. However, she must have relented in private, as the pair tied the knot last Saturday.

Presumably Leo and Anna spent some time putting their guestlist together, and it turns out poor old Carlo Ancelotti wasn’t on it. Given that the pair weren’t getting on so well last season, this probably isn’t a surprise, but it is a fairly public snub given that PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and general manager Jean-Claude Blanc were present for the ceremony. More fool Leonardo I say, I reckon Ancelotti would be a brilliant wedding guest; he’d just be chilling at the bar, grinning, smoking cigars and making the other guests happy. And he’d be good for a decent pressie.

Definitely not on the guest list was current PSG boss Laurent Blanc, but he’s got bigger problems to deal with ahead of tonight’s match against his former club Bordeaux.

Chief among them is a lack of players for the match at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. With Javier Pastore (thigh) and Jeremy Menez (kidney) sidelined, and Ezequiel Lavezzi absent from the squad for reasons unknown – presumably tiredness after his international trip to Argentina – Blanc has two choices; pick some of his tired international players or select a side comprised almost entirely of central midfielders.

It seems likely he’ll opt for the former, with Le Parisien speculating that we’ll stick to the 4-3-3 formation seen in matches of late. This could see Lucas up front alongside Ibra and possibly Hervin Ongenda, who is in line for a full debut if Edinson Cavani is fit enough only for the bench.

At the back Thiago Silva and Maxwell were both in action for Brazil over in the United States, so Lucas Digne and Papus Camara stand by for first starts of the season. The elusive Marquinhos is in the squad, but not yet fit enough to play 90 minutes.

“We will have to wait and see,” said Blanc of his Brazilian players. “They will have a light training session and we'll see how they pull up.

“We may wait until Friday morning, or even afternoon, after the siesta. We have prepared for every eventuality because certain players won't be in top form. However the team looks, we will be heading to Bordeaux looking for the win."

With big games against Olympiakos in the Champions League and Monaco in the league coming up, I doubt either Cavani or Silva will start, but we shall see.

We’ve already beaten Bordeaux once this season, that unmemorable 2-1 win in the Trophee des Champions back in August. Since then Blanc’s former club have picked up four points from their opening four Ligue 1 fixtures, with defeats against Monaco and St Etienne.

Since their last match, the aforementioned defeat to ASSE, the Bordeaux squad has been weakened by the departure of experienced skipper Jaroslav Plasil, who has been shipped out on loan to Italian side Catania.

"Even the two weeks that have passed since [the St Etienne match] have not erased that game from our minds," said manager Francois Gillot, proving he’s no match for Derren Brown in the mind manipulation stakes.

"When we are up against it, when we play with an element of fear, I think we are better. That's human nature. We are afraid of Paris because they are a big team."

Last season an injury-hit PSG team went to Bordeaux and ground out a 1-0 win, Zlatan scoring the only goal in what was the first match after the tragic death of fitness coach Nick Broad. A repeat score-line would be most welcome this evening.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Stupid PSG picture of the week: Get in line for a Zlatan burger

"I always knew that I would not leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer," said Zlatan Ibrahimovic at a press conference yesterday. "The club takes care of me very well."

Always good to near nice words from the Z-man, who is currently away with the Sweden national team. In any case, Ibra can't leave Paris now as he has been immortalised by one of the city's bistros. I'm not entirely sure where in the city one would find this gastronomic delight, but it comes complete with it's own hackneyed Chuck Norris reference.
Pic: @Margot_Dumont
"To share, but Chuck Norris eats a whole one". I'm sure it's more funny in French. But which other PSG players would make good fast food? Here are a few ideas;

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.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms