Evian Thonon-Gaillard 0-0 Paris Saint-Germain
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: David Luiz
Last night’s 0-0 draw with Evian Thonan Gaillard was hardly the most inspiring performance from a Paris Saint-Germain side. We come up against a team that was rooted to the foot of the table and had conceded nine goals in the previous two games but the hosts produced an admirable defensive display. They got their just rewards as we were left frustrated, especially with Yohan Cabaye being sent off midway through the second-half.
We have seen these kind of performances from a PSG side away from home – it is nothing new. They can be dogged affairs where little is created but usually a piece of magic ends up turning the tide in our favour. But, without Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line we lacked bite up top. Thiago Motta’s presence in midfield is always missed and Gregory Van der Wiel is so underrated that his ability down the right-hand side gets overlooked. Ibra being out was the biggest loss of the three (obviously), we dominated possession and created some meaningful opportunities but it was not enough.
We operated in a typical 4-3-3 with Edinson Cavani as the central striker supported by Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore who was ushered further forward from the central role he had been operating in. Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi came in to make their first competitive starts with Marco Verratti the final piece in the midfield trio.
As I said, there was nothing wrong with the ball retention but we were too predictable going forward. There were snippets of some beautiful interplay which Lucas was heavily involved in. There was one incident he produced a gorgeous defence splitting pass for Cavani who took too long to get his shot away.
El Matador had a strange night really. He was persistently offside but did have a few decent efforts on target. The goal last week is still not quite enough to get him off and running in a manner we know he can be capable of but he does look isolated as the central striker.
For me, the biggest success of the night was the defence. Serge Aurier, David Luiz, Marquinhos and Lucas Digne were excellent. We forget that this is a very young defence, with Luiz being the elder statesman at just 26 years of age. The number 32 was man of the match in my opinion. He showed glimpses of his ability to come forward with the ball but what stuck out for me was his discipline. It was a very professional performance and he made a vital block in stoppage time that could have won Evian the game.
Cabaye’s two bookings which resulted in his dismissal did not swing the pendulum massively in ETG’s favour but they did have us on the ropes in the dying embers of the game where we were defending for our lives. Salvatore Sirigu who had nothing to do for the 90 produced a world class one handed save to prevent Nicolas Benezet from winning the game for Pascal Dupraz.
In the end it is a point. The expectancy was to win but coach Laurent Blanc missed a trick really by not altering the formation to make us more potent. Perhaps having Jean-Christophe Bahebeck play alongside Cavani up top with Lucas and Pastore out wide in a midfield four could have been an option. We just need to alternate the set-up of the team to eradicate this predictability we have at times. One thing that has struck me is that we could do with another striker in the ranks. Someone who is a poacher in the box. Someone we can bring off the bench and give us something extra. Bar Ibra and Cavani, we have no other strikers – not even a youth prospect. That is something that the club should take a look at rather than trying to sign all these wide players.