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Carlo Ancelotti said that he and his team would sleep well Saturday night with a win in Troyes. No concern then that soon as their heads slumped on the their pillows last night that they were well at ease with the fact that a long awaited championship is now in the club’s grasp.
Blaise Matuidi’s second-half winner in the 1-0 victory at the Stade de l’Aube sent us 10 points clear ahead of Marseille who do not play until tonight. Despite the scoreline being minimal, it was a fairly routine win against a team sitting bottom of the table. The hosts very rarely threatened but the same could be said for ourselves. Like many times this season, we have gone away from home and sneaked narrow victories by not playing particularly well. As I have said though countless times, that is the hallmark of champions. We have had a fixture list as hectic as it has been for quite some time so Ancelotti has had to be shrewd in managing his players’ fitness. To be fair to him, he has done exactly that. After the amount of energy that was exerted in Barcelona during the week, he made a couple of changes to freshen things up. Yes, the performance did not really show any real sparkling vigour but in the end it resulted in three points being obtained. That is the only thing that mattered.
Gregory Van der Wiel came in after Jallet started in the Camp Nou and gave another solid outing. It has been apparent in the last two months that the Dutchman has started to come into his own, showing the form he had at Ajax and gained him international call-ups. The competition between him and Jallet has been good. Definitely a sign as to how well Ancelotti has utilised the pair of them as they have both had their fair share of playing time. Van der Wiel was the architect for the goal with a sweeping cross for big Blaise to tap home at the back-post.
The same cannot be said for Carlo’s relationship with Kevin Gameiro. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, the Frenchman came in for him but had a largely frustrating afternoon. This was evident as he came off in the second-half for Thiago Motta and aired his distaste with an animated reaction. Kicking some equipment as he slumped in his seat he could be heard saying “it is always the same”. The coach said after he understood the player’s reaction whilst saying his performance was not up to standard. The Parisien fans can certainly understand the striker’s frustration. Whenever he has played it has been because Zlatan has been missing or he’s been played out of position, out wide, where he is ineffective. Matuidi gave his backing to Gameiro but did say it is about the team; “Kevin is a great striker. And when he does not score, he is frustrated, it is normal for all attackers. But we must first think of the team”.
We will now turn our attention to the Coupe de France on Wednesday with the Double very much a realistic goal for us. Just the title would have been more than enough to the Parisien support but to win the cup as well will top off a magical season.