It is now nine straight classique victories in a row for Paris Saint-Germain but they had to work for it last night. Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel di Maria sealed a 1-2 victory in a hostile Stade Velodrome. The hosts were on point for the vast majority of the game unlike the Ligue 1 champions who were sloppy throughout. In the end, one moment of class from Di Maria snatched the spoils and prolonged this incredible unbeaten run.
We were dealt a blow just prior to the game with Javier Pastore having to withdraw and was replaced on the bench by 18-year-old Christopher Nkunku. David Luiz though returned to the starting line-up in place of Marquinhos. And Adrien Rabiot got the nod over his compatriot Benjamin Stambouli in the midfield trio.
We could not have wished for a better start. The veteran Zlatan netted within two minutes at the back post via an assist from the left by his buddy Maxwell. It was the Swede who started the move by winning possession in the middle of the pitch. Credit must also go to Blaise Matuidi for the lofted ball over the top to find Max down the left.
From there on in we were in the ascendency and should have made it 0-2 via Di Maria. The Argentine got in behind Brice Dja Djedje but he dragged his effort wide when he should have at least worked Steve Mandanda in l’OM’s goal.
We were left to rue that missed opportunity. Perhaps an air of arrogance came in from our part as we took our foot off the gas. Marseille were beginning to find a lot more space. Remy Cabella’s effort on target set a precedent with the hosts creating numerous chances. Abdelaziz Barrada for one missed a glorious opportunity when the ball fell kindly to him in the box but blasted over.
Not too long after that they were level thanks to a wonderful solo goal by Cabella. Thiago Motta lost possession in midfield and the on-loan Newcastle man ran all the way before firing from distance to beat Kevin Trapp. We just backed off as he bore in towards goal with the ball going through David Luiz’s legs and over Kevin Trapp’s outstretched arm.
That intensified the decibels in the stadium. Michel’s men had the belief, you could sense it. We were not at the races at all, giving the ball away, dillydallying on the edge of our box. Basically, we were our own worst enemy for large parts. If it was not for a glorious tackle by the skipper Thiago Silva in the box and Maxwell clearing Michy Batshuayi’s effort off the line, we could have gone into the break behind.
For 10 minutes after the interval Les Parisiens were penned into their own half. Marseille were the ones looking the likeliest to score. But, we weathered the storm and it took one moment of class from Di Maria in the 71st minute to win it. He initially played the ball through to Ibra who showed composure to beat Mandanda to the ball before pulling it back for ADM to shimmy and then drill his shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Georges N’Koudou squandered a glorious chance in the dying ember to make it 2-2 after Silva slipped but he dragged his effort wide. Thiago Silva was absolutely outstanding, showing the form this season that is reminiscent of the 2012/13 days. His calming influence was needed in a difficult night for his peers.
In the end, the classique bragging rights remain in Paris. The 24-point lead at the top is intact and we have four games in a row at the Parc des Princes to look forward to. There is no place like home when you’re in the kind of form!