Paris Saint-Germain today has been digesting the euphoria surrounding last night’s incredible 3-2 victory at home to Barcelona. One of the club’s most infamous victories was contributed to by each and every single player in Parisian blue. Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura were the architects. Blaise Matuidi the engine. And the bedrock at the back was Marquinhos and his centre back partner David Luiz who looked like a £50m player with an outstanding performance.
So much was made at the size of the fee when it was revealed just before the FIFA World Cup that a deal had been reached with Chelsea for the player. It came days after UEFA released the FFP breaches for the club which completely changed the plans in the transfer window. The breaking of the Luiz news was a statement of intent more than anything from Les Parisiens. It was an immediate response to the punishment handed out by UEFA, almost goading football’s European body.
The size of the fee is ludicrous, of course it is. Nevertheless, Luiz was someone that the club had been courting for a good 12 months before he made the move to Paris. It is not as if the club bought him on a whim. Alex’s departure to Milan meant we needed to bring in a top draw centre-half to play alongside Thiago Silva. Well, who better than his Brazilian international teammate.
But is it is not the skipper who Luiz has forged an immediate understanding with as a club teammate, it has been with another Brazilian in the form of Marquinhos. The pair of them have been outstanding. Getting better each week as the relationship continues to develop.
When Silva picked up that hamstring injury in Naples in August, I feared the worst. Marquinhos’ head had been scrambled by persistent links with Barcelona during the summer which contributed to him having a poor pre-season. Too many errors were being made and he looked out sorts. He looks like a world beater at the moment with Luiz alongside him. They have helped each other out immensely and there is also a camaraderie there.
You could see all this unfold last night. There was one moment in particular that will be synonymous with the victory and that was Marquinhos’ celebration when he blocked Jordi Alba’s goal bound effort minutes from the end which would have levelled the game three apiece. The 20-year-old celebrated it as if he was a forward scoring a goal. Luiz gave him a big embrace and then the pair got back to business. They got back in their positions, barking orders whilst re-assembling the back four.
Luiz’s discipline has impressed me the most since he has been here. Perceived as somewhat of a bobby dazzler on the ball with his eccentric runs from the back, we have hardly seen this to be honest. He has stayed back in his position, providing a commanding presence. This was apparent last night, he was winning everything as Barca looked to unhinge us. As good as he was in that respect, the fact that he is technically sound is a great benefit. Alex was a warrior at the back during his time at the club but technically not so good. Luiz has that in abundance and so does Marquinhos. Both contributed to good spells of possession against the masters.
The crowning glory for the centre-back was the goal that opened the scoring. Lucas played in a telling freekick which Luiz controlled immaturely, holding Javier Mascherano off with ease, before finishing like a centre-forward. Power, intelligence, desire and class sum up his goal. Not many centre-backs could have done what he did.
Thiago Silva is penned in to make a possible return next week away to Lens. But I tell you what he has his work cut out to get back in the side. Laurent Blanc has a real conundrum as what to do because TS will not tolerate being out of the team. But why on earth would the coach disrupt a partnership that is only going to blossom – not just for the forthcoming season – but for years to come? He has a big decision to make!
Finishing off on Luiz, he was given high ratings by a number of publications. Le Parisien said he perhaps should have closed down Lionel Messi for the equaliser at 1-1 but praised his performance as a whole. He was also on the front cover of today’s paper celebrating his goal. Not only did he prove a point last night against one of the best teams in the world, he looks rejuvenated in Paris. The fans have taken to his infectious nature and if continues to put in displays like he did last night he will be worshiped in the capital.
There is a new hero to be adored at the Parc des Princes and he may turn out to be worth every penny.