Paris Saint-Germain are heading back to the Stade de France for the second consecutive year after booking a place in the Coupe de la Ligue Final last night. Maxwell of all people got the only goal of the game against Lille in what was a surprisingly comfortable evening for the capital club.
Although LOSC’s league form has been much below their usual standards this season, their performance was considerably lethargic for a semi-final. Nicolas Douchez in the Parisian goal hardly had a save to make as the hosts could only muster two shots on target. To be honest, the chances in the game were few and far between from both sides but we were in total control as soon as we took the lead in the 27th minute.
Coach Laurent Blanc made a couple of changes from the weekend. Notably Thiago Motta came back into the midfield trio alongside Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi who both started on the bench against Rennes last Friday. Lucas Moura was back in the team at the expense of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Max was back at left-back in place of Lucas Digne.
We created a couple of chances in the opening quarter of the game. Edinson Cavani who was jeered at the Parc last Friday had a few tame efforts on goal but the build-up play to both was excellent. Marquinhos and Lucas down the right did well to create a cutback for the Uruguayan who swiped his effort wide. And then a clever freekick by Zlatan Ibrahimovic resulted in El Matador being teed up just on the edge of the penalty area but his shot was easily saved by Vincent Enyeama.
The number nine though was provider for Max’s goal. He did expertly well to control the ball in the box despite slipping over. He then played the ball back across the box which was met by the Brazilian who smashed past a helpless Enyeama. Cavani may not have meant to pick out Max – as he seemed to be after Ibra – but credit to the striker for the control of the ball in order to make the cut-back. Kudos must also be handed out to Lucas for the diligent ball into the striker’s path as he found him in acres of space.
Tempers flared as the half wore on. Marco Verratti was involved in a spat with Florent Balmont as both men continuously niggled at each other. Up until his substitution in the 60th minute, the little Italian was our best player in my opinion. He controlled the midfield, kept things ticking over and he was clearly making a nuisance of himself to Les Dogues who fouled him a number of times. He sought retribution on Balmont for an altercation they had in the first-half and was subsequently booked. This must have played a part in Blanc’s thinking to take him off.
During the second-half we coasted possession. Seriously, the holders did not have to fret as the home team failed to penetrate us in the final third. It was one of the most comfortable games we have had this season despite it being a cup semi-final. Reni Girard’s men did not seem to want it enough! They just made it easy for us and we were able to dictate possession with ease.
We will now face either Monaco or Bastia on April 11th in the final at the Stade de France. Both clubs meet in Monte Carlo tonight.
The 1-0 victory was our third consecutive via that scoreline. It keeps the dream of a domestic treble alive and we can head into the Stade de Gerland this Sunday in buoyant fashion.
The week has got off to the flyer we wanted with a cup final date booked! Imagine how sweet it would be if it can be ended on Sunday with three points over Lyon?
Bring it on!