Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 Valenciennes
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Ezequiel Lavezzi
Paris Saint-Germain did not get hot under the collar on Valentine’s Day and enjoyed a rather pleasant stroll at the Parc des Princes against Valenciennes.
It was a largely comfortable evening for Les Parisiens, easing to a 3-0 victory that cranks up the pressure on Monaco in Bastia later today. We now have an eight point cushion at the top of the table which is huge at this time of the season. If the club from Monte Carlo is to slip up it will round off a terrific couple of days.
Laurent Blanc made a host of changes to his side as he normally does just before a European fixture. With Bayer Leverkusen coming up on Tuesday he opted to put Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti on the bench, allowing Yohan Cabaye to make his first start as well as moving Javier Pastore into the midfield trio – Motta completing it. That was in order to accommodate Ezequiel Lavezzi out wide on the left and Jeremy Menez was given a rare start on the right. Marquinhos partnered the skipper Thiago Silva at centre-back with Alex rested on the bench. Lucas Moura was also given a rest.
The performance in the first-half was comfortable. Bar a brief 5-10 minute period where VAFC settled a little, Salvatore Sirigu was a mere spectator.
Lavezzi, who suffered personal tragedy this week due to the death of his uncle, was man of the match for me. To put in a performance as he did after the harrowing few days he’s had says an awful lot about the man. He was a warrior on the pitch, played for the team, gave 100% as he always does and it was only fitting that he opened the scoring. The ball fell kindly to his feet after it deflected off the wall via a Zlatan Ibrahimovic free-kick and ‘El Pocho’ was there to gobble it up. He immediately pointed to the heavens as the ball rippled the net. It was a lovely moment for him and his family.
His Argentinean compatriot Pastore had another telling game. The good thing for him is that he also completed the 90 minutes. Blanc must be tempted to put him in the game against Leverkusen as his form is imperious at the moment. But, with Lucas being rested and Lavezzi putting in a performance as he did, the coach has his options to mull over.
After the interval, Les Parisiens more or less killed the game off within seven minutes. Two quick fire goals, one from Ibra (a half volley via a Yohan Cabaye assist) and a Gary Kagelmacher own goal (after some terrific play down the left by Lavezzi) ended any fading hopes VAFC may have had.
There were plenty of positives to take from the game; Cabaye completed 90 minutes. Lavezzi put on a heroic performance after his personal tragedy. Silva showed no ill effects from his ankle trouble and Pastore continued his good form. But, the return of Adrien Rabiot who came on in the second-half after a month out was the biggest positive.
It sets up nicely for that stern test at the BayArena next week.