We can credit a chunk of those aforementioned red-carded victories to the four lungs of Blaise Matuidi, who certainly did his job this game. At times he seems like two players rolled into one. He’s incredibly ferocious when attacking and persistent on defense. And as he showed tonight, he has the vision to complement his physicality. The game demanded a lot of him on both ends of the pitch as Lille’s defense denied Paris every well-worked move in the opening quarter.
Making Matuidi’s job even more difficult was Adrien Rabiot. His silly tackle early in the first half earned him an early shower, which left a hole in midfield that Blaise worked hard to fill. Despite his best efforts, though, the final 10 minutes of the first 45 were incredibly nervy; no real chances for Lille, thanks to O Monstro, but plenty more last-ditch tackles than the Parisian faithful are used to.
The image of the savior came at the stroke of halftime when Thiago Motta came on for Javier Pastore. It was a change I was personally doubtful of due to the Italian’s poor state of mind, but he played out of his skin in midfield. He brought a serenity and tempo back to the game that had all but collapsed towards the end of the first half. Not only did he deliver well from dead balls but he started the move that led to the gorgeous winning goal.
Matuidi delivered the ball after Lucas Moura used Edinson Cavani as his springboard, and the Brazilian finished coolly past Lille keeper Vincent Enyeama. It’s a wonderful thing to earn the first Ligue 1 goal of the season, and the man who I’ve named as my breakout star of the season can build on tonight’s performance. He was a constant outlet and could have finished with more had the Lille defense not been so solid in the first hour. He also showed a great bit of chemistry up front with Cavani, which bodes incredibly well for the capital club’s tactical flexibility. It’s a hard decision, but he just barely misses out on tonight’s man of the match award. Which brings me to…
Man of the Match
Adrien Rabiot! Brilliant work to be sent off so early and draw Lille out to be hit on the count—ok, I think his mom stopped reading.
Seriously though, Serge Aurier ran the show tonight, not only solid at the back with his tackling but also a beast going forward. The Ivorian showed shades of Dani Alves and could have finished with an assist and a goal were it not for a single stud blocking both opportunities.
— 1970 PSG (@1970_PSG) August 7, 2015
PSG have absolutely stolen Aurier from Toulouse for a paltry €12 million. His form in preseason as the fourth choice centre back, his tenacity up and down the flank, his passion and willingness to play despite two hard knocks has been impressive to watch. He’s not just a bargain, he’ll be a fan favorite in no time and probably one of the best wing-backs in Europe.
This win brings the team to ten wins in a row in Ligue 1, stretching back to the marvelous end of last season, and no doubt manager Laurent Blanc will want to carry on that run. Another note to take away is Jean-Kévin Augustin making his league debut and nearly setting up a goal for Cavani. Great work in his brief minutes to make an impression.