Stade Rennes 0-2 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Gregory Van der Wiel (Another accomplished display by the Dutchman who has really come into his own the last two months.)
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Are we etching ever closer to that third Ligue 1 title? The 2-0 win away to Rennes yesterday was significant in the fact that we accumulated all three points after exerting so much in midweek against Barcelona in the Champions League.
It is a problem that we encountered on a number of occasions this season. Our performances in Europe have been generally splendid, but the performances after in the league have been mediocre at best. It is not down to fitness, more of psychological flaw. We do not seem to play with that same appetite domestically as we do in Europe’s premier competition. It is something that has not gone unnoticed at the club with director of football Leonardo admitting some months back that he felt the team ‘lacked’ motivation in Ligue 1. So, after the euphoria on Tuesday night, would it be more of the same?
The win is what mattered first and foremost but it took a piece of absolute magic from Jeremy Menez to get that elusive first goal just after half-time. The Frenchman skipped past four Rennes players with pure ease before coolly finishing past Benoit Costil to the delirium of travelling Parisiens. Before that, in the first-half in particular, our play was all rather pedestrian. Again, we started slowly, not really playing with any tempo or applying enough pressure on a team that had not won a game in its last six league outings. We had three men in midfield, Blaise Matuidi, Clement Chantome and Marco Verratti in the middle just in front of the back four. Kevin Gameiro was ushered out wide and never really got in the game – not through any fault of his own. Kevin is a striker, end of, and it was surprising the Carlo Ancelotti opted to put him out there. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was quiet mostly before netting an injury time header to settle matters but he was playing deeper than usual – even by his standards. So, it was all a little scatty in a general and nothing to get too excited about.
Verratti who had picked up a yellow card before the break was taken off at half-time for David Beckham. The Englishman obviously got his orders early on as he was seen ushering down the tunnel even before the half-time whistle blew to get changed. Verratti has been superb this season, incredible for such a young man to make an impact in this star studded side but his coach felt he showed a petulant side – such as the foul and kicking the ball away – and felt that the risk of him being sent off was too great.
When Beckham came on, he countlessly sought after Zlatan with the long ball which was not paying off. In the end he got one spot on for the Swede’s injury time header, a swift counter-attack allowed Javier Pastore to slide the ball to Becks who was rearing from the right and he dinked the ball goal bound which Zlatan steered in at the back stick. Whether or not Beckham’s effort was going in was unclear but the smiles were all round as PSG realised they picked up three massive points.
Yes, the performance was far from pretty but in the end a win is a win – a huge one as well. We go seven points clear of Marseille now as attention turns to Catalonia with a visit to the infamous Nou Camp.
It has been quite a week. Imagine what the next will be like if we can pull off the unthinkable?