Laurent Blanc was adamant pre-match that Paris Saint-Germain needed to move on from the disappointing defeat to Manchester City in the week that sent us crashing out of the Champions League quarterfinals for a fourth straight season.
Having gone into the tie as favourites, we well and truly blew it. It stemmed from the team selection in the first-leg when Serge Aurier was recalled and our failure to take our chances, particularly a missed penalty by Zlatan Ibrahimovic at 0-0. If that goes in, it’s a completely different tie and we could have headed to Manchester with an advantage. But, we had so many openings during the 90.
Fine margins do make a difference but we were simply not good enough across 180 minutes. City deserved to go through; they were clinical. Our performance at the Etihad was mediocre at best and as a result we went out with a whimper.
The gaffer has come under criticism for fielding a 3-5-2 formation; something we have not adopted this season. LB was asked about this in his pre-match presser ahead of the Caen game, which he responded; “I was convinced that the formation I chose could make us more solid in defence. My intention was to reinforce the centre of defence to shut down City’s attackers. And until Thiago Motta was forced off injured, the score remained at 0-0. We talked to the players a lot about this tactical change. It was something new, but we had had the idea in our heads for some time. But our analysis would be incomplete if we were to say that this change was the sole factor behind our elimination. What’s more, once we reverted to our usual formation, Manchester City’s forwards posed us problems.”
The fact is that we have important games coming up in the domestic cups. We are well on course for an unprecedented back-to-back domestic quadruple, which would be stunning! There is a Coupe de France semi-final on Tuesday against Lorient before the Coupe de la Ligue Final next Saturday at the Stade de France against Lille. Blanc was keen to stress that the team refocuses ahead of these games; “The morale could be better. It’s normal to feel the effects of being eliminated form the Champions League, but we need to tart moving forward again. And that starts with Caen in the league, and then against Lorient on Tuesday as we look to book a place in the Coupe de France final. Our elimination has not been easy to swallow. It’s painful, but we can’t forget about the important matches that are coming up as we try to finish the season in the best possible fashion.”
In what was an understandably flat atmosphere at the Parc des Princes after the disappointment midweek, plenty of empty seats, the players put on a professional display by hammering Caen 6-0 this afternoon. Blanc made his customary changes. Salvatore Sirigu came in for Kevin Trapp and Presnel Kimpembe in for Thiago Silva, to name a few.
We could not have asked for a better against Caen as Ibra opened the scoring with a long-range strike. And just before the interval the big man got his 12th assist of the season by teeing up Blaise Matuidi to make it two.
Edinson Cavani had a strange game in truth as he missed a number of sitters but did make it on the scoresheet with a tap in. Angel di Maria would make it 4-0 with an audacious chip that beautifully executed.
Zlatan equalled a record of his own to make it 5-0. That was his 41st gol of the season, equalling the tally he set in Parisian blue in 2013/14.
Then to wrap it up, his buddy Maxwell would make it 6-0 on a comfortable afternoon for the champions.