OGC Nice 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Marquinhos
The scouts from Chelsea would not have learnt more than they already know about Paris Saint-Germain during last night’s 1-0 win away to Nice. The champions, although playing nowhere near to their full capabilities, grounded out a consecutive victory away from home that has stretched the lead at the top to a mammoth 13 points (14 if you take our superior goal difference into account). As I have said for the past week or so, it is easy to get ahead of ourselves but you feel now the title is etching ever closer. And with Chelsea to come on Wednesday, it keeps the momentum going into that titanic battle with Jose Mourinho.
Jose will have been keeping tabs on our progress in south-east France and will have been surprised by Laurent Blanc’s team selection. Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti, Alex and Maxwell were the only notable players who were rested. Zlatan Ibrahimovic started, and completed a full 90 minutes, as did Edinson Cavani. Thiago Silva started despite his fractured cheek bone, partnering young Marquinhos at the back who started for the fifth game in a row.
Blanc’s decision not to rotate was a surprise. I thought he may have missed a trick not mixing things up such as playing Edinson Cavani as the striker through the middle. Nevertheless, he can feel justified in his decision because ultimately it was Cavani and Ibra (along with Javier Pastore’s ball into the box) that resulted in the winning goal. Ibra nodded across goal for Cavani to pressurise Timothee Kolodziejczak to turn the ball into his own net in the second-half.
The hosts had their moments mainly in the first-half and they tested Salvatore Sirigu on a number of occasions. But the saves were routine in truth. Les Parisiens did not really have to break out of second gear all game, similar to the performance in Brittany last week against Lorient. It was very much walking pace which will please Blanc heading into the game with Chelsea. His players should be fresh for that, especially as our guests do not have as much time to recuperate as they play Crystal Palace later today. The LFP have to be praised as they do try and ensure French clubs have enough time to recover ahead of European games, something which the English Premier League fails to do.
There were no real standout performers for us last night but I think Marquinhos deserves special praise. It was another mature performance from him, despite picking up a booking for a late lunge. Nevertheless, Silva’s presence alongside him seems to be rubbing off because his distribution in the first-half was an unblemished 100% as he completed all of his 36 passes. Will he start on Wednesday? Probably not. Alex will come back into the fold to face his former club alongside the masked skipper Thiago Silva.
The momentum keeps on going. That is now seven consecutive league wins which is a new club record and nine in total. Going into the game with The Blues with a double figure lead is something to be proud of. This time last year we were seven points ahead of Lyon heading into the games with Barcelona so the situation is not too dissimilar. The feel good factor now feels even greater to back then.
Now the emphasis can turn solely onto Mourinho’s men. The Parc des Princes can gear up for another enthralling European night.
Let there be more history in the making!