Paris Saint-Germain played out a rather drab goalless draw with the 2012 Ligue 1 champions Montpellier at the Parc des Princes this evening. It was not the greatest advert for the league in a game of few chance.
As expected, before any European game, coach Laurent Blanc rang the changes. Maxwell, Mr Underrated himself, was made skipper for the day in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta. Even David Luiz would have been in with a shout for the captaincy but he was on the bench.
The kids are alright though! And it was great to see 18-year-old Christopher Nkunku handed his Ligue 1 debut in the centre of midfield alongside Adrien Rabiot and Benjamin Stambouli. The kid has a lot of potential and fair play to Monsieur Blanc for handing him the opportunity. Presnel Kimpembe is getting his fair share of playing time this season and he started in the centre of defence alongside Marquinhos. The PSG support will appreciate that despite the wealth of talent at Blanc’s disposal, he is giving the youth an opportunity.
Javier Pastore started on the bench. This is a key indication that Blaise Matuidi is struggling to be fit for the game in London next week. Pastore would normally be a shoeing to start and build-up his match fitness. However, Matuidi’s injury along with Marco Verratti’s groin issue means both are a doubt and JP will most probably start in central midfield.
As for the game itself, we came right out of the traps. Maxwell played a lovely ball into the box that was met by Edinson Cavani but his volley rattled the crossbar. Looking back, El Matador should have hit the back of the net but he seemed to get under the ball.
Moments later, he was at that near post again. This time he was denied by goalkeeper Laurent Pionnier who did well to save.
Most of our joy was coming from the left. The stand in skipper was key to that along with Angel di Maria who was swapping wings with Lucas Moura from time to time. MHSC’s right-back William Remy certainly did some tracking back throughout the half.
After the interval and still goalless, we had a strong shout for a penalty turned down when former Montpellier man Stambouli was bundled over in the box by Ryad Boudebouz. The Algerian got nowhere near the ball and Les Parisiens should have been awarded a spot-kick by Tony Chaperon.
That was literally the only key talking point of the entire second-half. Even the introduction of Ibra and Pastore did little to enhance the level of play. Both teams were simply cancelling each other out. However, Ibra had a golden chance to seal the points in stoppage time but was denied by an inspired Pionnier.
I posed the question pre-match, ‘will Parisian minds be wandering towards London?’ and that seemed to be the case. Even though the team was changed a fair bit, we could have done more.
The lead over Monaco is back to 23-points but our biggest test is now imminent. The season defining clash with Chelsea in four days time!