Going out of the Coupe de France was bitterly disappointing last Wednesday night. Laurent Blanc tried to put a brave face on things but you could sense from everyone affiliated at the club that a big chance was missed to go gung-ho for a domestic treble.
The players will have needed to pick themselves up for the trip to Guingamp and they had to show bottle to come back from a goal down with six minutes to go to salvage a point. Alex’s header three minutes from time spared our blushes and saved us from losing consecutive matches – something which we have not done for 13 months.
The performance was below par in truth. For all our possession in the first-half, we lacked creativity in the final third. Javier Pastore started on the left-hand side of Zlatan Ibrahiomovic with Edinson Cavani of course on the opposite. It is a rarity for Pastore to start a league game and after his last few outings, he certainly deserved it. But, the position he was utilised in was a little baffling, considering he has excelled in central midfield where he is given a free role as such. Although ‘El Flaco’ did not impress too much on the left, it would be unfair to criticise him. Especially as no other Parisien player performed to their full potential.
We were lucky not to be trailing sooner against the hosts. Rachid Alioui nearly scored a sensational dipping volley and almost caught Salvatore Sirigu off guard with a freekick that the Italian saved on to the crossbar in an unorthodox manner.
Credit to EAG, they stifled us. After the interval, chances were minimal at best. Then when they took the lead with under 10 minutes to go via Mustapha Yatabare’s header, it looked as if we would succumb to defeat. The worrying thing for Blanc is the vulnerability from set-pieces. The last three we have conceded have all been from those situations and it is a flaw that needs to addressed.
Despite our problems from defending them, at least we capitalised on one of our own courtesy of Alex via a Lucas Moura corner. The big Brazilian had to thrust his neck muscles towards the ball and thankfully got us out of jail.
The coach’s reaction after the game was that a draw was fair. He told the club’s Official Site; “My overriding feeling is that we didn’t get what we came here for, the three points. I think the state of the pitch was a disadvantage because it really doesn’t suit our style of play. But we still tried to play good football. In the 83rd minute, we conceded another goal from a set piece. At the moment, the only chances our rivals are getting are from set pieces. We have to work on that. But I am still happy that we came back and equalised and we didn’t give up. We are disappointed because in normal circumstances we could have had more chances to win this match. Given the context, it was probably the right result, because we didn’t produce an amazing match of football either. We will get back to work to try and win the next match at the Parc, against Bordeaux.”
Earlier on Saturday, Le Parisien reported that Blanc and the club had come to an agreement for a contract extension. The Frenchman will apparently pen a new contract till June 2016, earning €6m per year. This comes a month after Nasser Al-Khelaifi told L’Equipe that the 48-year-old deserved a new deal. Lauding him as one of the world’s best. In the long run this is fantastic news. Blanc has brought a lot of qualities to the club and hopefully this will silence the journalists who question him about his future.
News on the transfer front occurred yesterday. There is no secret that the club are on the lookout for a midfielder, notably Roma’s Miralem Pjanic and Newcastle United’s Yohan Cabaye being top of the list. Well, SKY Sports in the UK reported that the Toon Army rejected a £14m bid from Les Parisiens for Cabaye. This is a player that Blanc will love to bring in having worked with the former Lille man during his stint as Les Bleus’ coach. The initial figure does seem pretty derisory – Newcastle fans will agree – but you cannot help but think that the club are just dipping a toe in the water before upping the ante. It seems likely another bid will be made but remains to be seen if anything can be agreed from now until the end of the week. My guess is if Cabaye wants the move, he will be a Paris Saint-Germain player by the weekend.