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Beaten by a team in a relegation battle that had only won one in their last 18 league games and were reduced to 10-men with the score level at 0-0. Yet, Paris Saint-Germain were still humbled by Stade de Reims on Saturday afternoon in a hammer blow to our title bid.
As hard as it is to ignore that fact, Lyon’s failure to beat Brest means they still trail behind us – albeit by only two points. Marseille, who we thought lost any title aspirations after we beat them the week before, have somewhat clawed themselves back into the race after a 2-1 win over bottom side Troyes. Elie Baup’s team are now just five points off the pace.
What really matters from our perspective is the manner of that defeat in Reims. We just did not turn up from the get go and for whatever reason we lacked a spark, a cutting edge and it was costly. Even against a team fighting for their lives at the bottom they contained us with ease in truth. They did not allow us to play, stifled anything we tried in an attacking sense and they must be lauded with credit because they did tremendously well to do that. Saying that, we were very predictable. Yes, we bossed possession for the majority of the game but soon as we approached the cusp of the 18-yard box, we did not know what to do.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had an off game and to be honest, he hampered a lot of the work we did territorially by holding the ball up for far too long and giving it away. As we know, when Zlatan is not at the races, more of often than not, neither is the team. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore were not as riveting as they have been in recent weeks but Lucas did show his capabilities but again, his inexperience at this level is not going to make him a match winner overnight.
We did have chances to take the lead, notably Lavezzi in the first-half who had a golden opportunity and Zlatan did have a goal ruled out for offside but in the greater scheme of things, we did not create enough – nowhere near. Even David Beckham coming on with a quarter of an hour to play was unable to influence proceedings and a lot of his long balls went astray.
The most worrying thing was the lack of a killer instinct. When Christoper Glombard was sent off on the hour mark, PSG should have smelt blood and punished their hosts. Instead they were complacent as Grzegorz Krychowiak’s winner proved when he headed home from a corner completely unmarked. The defending was reminiscent to that of last season which was non-existent at times. The sooner Thiago Silva gets back from injury the better and he may return on Wednesday against Valencia.
Director of football Leonardo made a strange comment in the aftermath of the defeat saying “the team is more suited to play in Europe than in the championship”. Now, in my opinion there was absolutely no need to say that and it begs the question at what the clubs priority really is. Winning a third Ligue 1 title means more to the Parisien fans than anything and any thoughts of claiming a Champions League title are surely premature. I also hope that Leonardo and QSI are not discounting the domestic game by solely thinking about the Champions League because that should not be the case. Earn success on home soil before harbouring greater dreams on a scale of that magnitude.
Next up, the second-leg clash with Valencia on Wednesday in the last-16 of the competition which Leonardo things we are more accustomed to. Pressure will be mounting on Carlo Ancleotti after the weekend and he can ill afford to slip up here with a place in the last-eight in our grasp. The Italian said things will be different come Wednesday and let us hope he is right.
For his sake more than anything.