As my readers know, a match report normally follows imminently after a Paris Saint-Germain game but the weekend just gone was different. I was in Paris for a whirlwind trip to the Coupe de la Ligue final in a bitterly cold yet wonderful night in Saint-Denis. I was there to see the lads pick up the win, the cup and make it three out of four as we look to wrap up a consecutive domestic quarduple.
There is no point me giving a match report as such, more a flavour of how I perceived the game in the higher echelons of France’s national stadium. The atmosphere before, during and after the game was wonderful. The Lille supporters were an absolute delight to be honest. Their colour, character and passion are what really grasped me. This is a club that has not had too much to shout about in recent years but they were certainly making up for it.
Paris is a city close to their heart when you consider they wrapped up the Ligue 1 title in our very own backyard in 2011. They certainly sensed they could leave the capital with more silverware after their imperious run in the last few weeks; six consecutive wins in the league.
As for myself and the rest of the PSG support, there was that sense of optimism to make it three straight League Cup wins but you just knew that Les Dogues were here for a game. In the back of my mind, I dreaded the fact that I was going to see us lose in my first ever live PSG cup final, especially after we went down to 10-men following Adrien Rabiot’s sending off in the second-half.
Even the most hardcore Parisian cannot dispute the fact the LOSC were the better team. They had chance after chance. Salvatore Sirigu’s name rang round the Stade de France via the PSG section as he was in sterling form, just like in Lorient four days prior.
As you come to expect from PSG these days, we bossed possession in the first-half but we were not really probing Vincent Enyeama’s area. But, we could easily have been a goal up within the first 20 seconds had Angel di Maria put his shot either side of the Nigerian.
Javier Pastore, what an absolute delight to watch him from the sky. He was running the show for those in blue in that first 45. Bear in mind this was the Argentine’s first start for six weeks. To top it off, he opened the scoring five minutes before the break with a deflected volley.
The visitors would be on level terms with a deflected goal of their own via a Djibril Sidibe freekick minutes into the second half. And when Rabiot was given his marching orders with 20 minutes to go, I feared the worst.
Thankfully, we have a superstar in Angel di Maria who got us out jail to capitalise on some slack play in the Lille defence and finish past an onrushing Enyeama. ADM, what a pleasure it was to witness him in this vain of form. Everything was coming via the former United man whether it was getting in behind the defence, stretching them or just his general link-up play. For me, he was the best player on the pitch in a PSG shirt. He and Pastore were marvellous. You can’t help but be envious of the Argentine national team for possessing these two, let alone Lionel Messi. Thankfully, we are blessed to have two of the three at the Parc des Princes.
That goal with 15 minutes to go bailed us out because LOSC were in the ascendency, especially with us going a man down. Had we not scored when we did, I would most probably have been heading back to Birmingham with my head in my hands.
All I can say is, thank you Angel for making sure I didn’t!