Though Chelsea ultimately walked away with the win, scraping by 5-4 on penalties thanks to Thibaut Courtois, Paris Saint-Germain have very little to be disappointed about in the wake of this game. For the better part of 60 minutes, Paris continued their good preseason form with dominant possession, composure in the midfield, and lively performances from Jean-Kévin Augustin and Lucas Moura.
The first talking point must be the center of the park. Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti returned to the starting XI, Zlatan Ibrahimovic played just in front of them in the false 9 position, and Benjamin Stambouli anchored. This is a familiar midfield for most of us, only with Stambouli at the base of it, and it must be said that the new arrival held his place remarkably well. Just as in his impressive cameo against Fiorentina, Stambouli didn’t put a foot wrong and aided in maintaining a comfortable momentum against the English champions. Verratti was as good as ever, and Matuidi, though he didn’t dominate proceedings as he did against the Italian side, put in the usual workmanlike performance.
Serge Aurier and David Luiz made for an exceptional center back pairing, with the Ivorian in particular standing out. Aside from a bust-up with Chelsea’s Diego Costa, he put in an astounding performance in a position not normally considered his own. He’ll likely be added to the rotation ahead of Presnel Kimpembe should PSG not need his services at right back. And of course, speaking of dark horses, Augustin was on fire as always. His strike hit the post and fell to Ibrahimovic who slammed the ball into a mostly-empty net. To me, the 18-year-old is looking more and more deserving of first-team action. He definitely wasn’t overcome by the occasion and when he departed, some of our attacking momentum dissolved.
The substitutions definitely changed the course of the game. Adrien Rabiot had a shaky start, picking up an early yellow card and making a very uncharacteristic mistake in our own half, but eventually grew into his role. Thiago Motta meanwhile, looked half the man of his supposed backup. It was clear he’s still not in a great state of mind and if this is the man keeping Stambouli and ChristopherNkunku from more playing time, perhaps it might be best to let him go. A player in Motta’s role must be clear-headed and the difference between he and Stambouli is one almost entirely of motivation.
Lucas, meanwhile, ran his own show. The Brazilian did everything but score tonight, and while he had a few near-misses, detractors will say that he still can’t find the end product. That’s unfair to Lucas, who was every bit as explosive and spectacular as the fans have been wanting him to be. This was the performance that needed to be coaxed out of him, and if Chelsea had played a less defensive game—even when the youth came on, much to the chagrin of some Chelsea fans—I assure you that he would have netted a goal. In any case, if he can replicate this kind of performance, he’ll be invaluable next season.
Chelsea’s equalizer came on a counterattack in the chaos as Salvatore Sirigu and Thiago Silva came on, and you must give credit to Cesc Fabregas for an exceptional pass. Otherwise, it was a penalty shootout—not much love lost there. Plenty of positives as PSG inch nearer to the beginning of the Ligue 1 season. Mark your calendars! August 7! And the supercup on August 1!