Saturday’s resounding 4-0 Coupe de la Ligue victory for Paris Saint-Germain was comfortable as it gets. Playing against 10-men for 70 minutes gave our Corsican opponents little chance of creating an upset despite their spiky start to the game. It was ended as a contest with the Sebastien Squillaci red card as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edisnon Cavani grabbed the headlines by both netting a brace. As integral as that was from two of the marquee names, it was the two young bucks in Adrien Rabiot and Serge Aurier who I felt deserved a share of the acclaim.
Laurent Blanc’s call to name the pair of them in the starting-XI was not bold as such but it emphasises the trust he has in them. With David Luiz out, Marquinhos who has been playing at right-back was naturally ushered into the centre of defence. Gregory Van der Wiel who has been first-choice in that position pretty much since he signed for the club looked to start the game; seemed inevitable. But LB opted to bring in the 22-year-old.
The situation with Rabiot was similar. Thiago Motta being out for at least 10-days meant he was going to miss the match. Marco Verratti dropped into that anchorman role last Wednesday against Saint-Etienne and did so again for the meeting with Bastia. With Blaise Matuidi of course in that midfield it left one spot open. Yohan Cabaye may have been an easy choice to bring in yet the coach opted for the youthful exuberance of Rabiot.
I think Edisnon Cavani’s thigh complaint also played a part in that decision. Had El Matador started, Javier Pastore most probably will have dropped into that trio but that is hypothetical of course. Still, whether it was injuries, fitness worries etc, the gaffer entrusted the 20-year-old in starting his first ever cup final for Les Parisiens.
The performance from both players was good. Aurier showed a side to him we have not really seen in a Parisian shirt – an aggressive nature, itching for confrontation. In that early sparring with SCB he was visibly riled up. There was an incident after Thiago Silva took a blow to the head where the Ivorian got right in the face of Julian Palmieri.
The sending off of course allowed the full-back to push forward at will. He never had to think about his duties defensively. Nevertheless, he was integral in the second goal as it was his cross that caused panic which was headed out but thankfully Ibra was there to smash home to compete his brace. Then there was his cross for substitute Edinson Cavani to make it 3-0. It was a beautifully whipped in ball that was met by the head of the Uruguayan.
Rabiot controlled the midfield. This was one of his best performances in a PSG shirt, albeit against 10-men. It was a real mature display from the Frenchman. He just went about his business in a composed manner. Whether it was keeping things ticking over or breaking up the play, Rabiot did it to a tee. He had the second most amount of touches in the game with 97, only behind Marco Verratti who had accumulated 110. His passing percentage was just under 90% but an interesting stat is that he won the most amount of aerial duels alongside Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He is a tall boy and he put that to his advantage during the game.
Le Parisien gave Rabiot the second highest rating with 7, only behind Zlatan and the captain who were both given a rating of 7.5 out of 10. All in all, it was a really good display from the midfield man and his teammate at right-back.
Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com