Paris Saint-Germain 5-0 FC Nantes
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Marco Verratti
Paris Saint-Germain were sensational last night as they blitzed FC Nantes 5-0 in the opening game of 2014 at the Parc des Princes.
Despite the visitors’ resurgence this season since their promotion, the champions showed no mercy as they went for the jugular early on to dominate the entire 90 minutes.
Laurent Blanc rang the changes once again, just as he did in Bordeaux last Tuesday. Javier Pastore’s performance should have warranted another start but instead Blaise Matuidi returned to the starting-XI, as did Thiago Motta. With Adrien Rabiot out injured with a knee injury, Blaise took up his role on the left-hand side of the midfield trio as Motta sat just in front of the back four as per usual. Verratti played that particular role in Bordeaux and did OK.
Paris absolutely dominated the first-half. The players accumulated 67% possession and made 473 passes, compared to the 196 from Nantes. Chances were few and far between in general but Thiago Silva made it 1-0 within the first 10 minutes. An Ezequiel Lavezzi corner was met by the head of Edinson Cavani that was well saved by Remy Riou but he was unable to prevent the rebound being smashed home by the captain.
From there on, Les Parisiens were more than content with keeping possession. The visitors had no answers really and were succumbing to their fate. Verratti was superb. He was breaking up play at times, showing a real maturity. He did pick up a booking but it should not deter his performance. It was he who won the penalty for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to convert. The little Italian was bundled over clumsily by Chaker Alhadur and Ibra bagged his 16th league goal this season (his first in 2014).
It was more of the same after the interval. Even Thiago Motta treated us to a rare goal. A lovely ball in by Gregory Van der Wiel was headed back across goal by Matuidi who showed great awareness to spot Motta who scuffed the ball home.
Edinson Cavani made it 4-0 soon after. Verratti was man of the match for me and his persistence for a tackle resulted in Ibrahimovic picking the ball and he unselfishly squared for his mate to sweep past Riou. His 13th league goal this season and like Ibra, his first of 2014.
Ibra put the icing on the cake with a fifth with his weaker left foot. Javier Pastore who had only been on the pitch a minute linked up with Matuidi before the ball broke to the Swede to strike.
Had the lads not taken their foot of the gas it could been more. But it was as good a performance you will see from any team in Europe. Matuidi admitted that little tweaks have been made to the tactics since the winter break, such as pressuring the opposition more to retain possession. That was certainly evident last night.
Stunning from Blanc’s men and the five point lead at the top was reinstated after Monaco were victorious in Toulouse.