Paris Saint-Germain Win Their Eighth Straight Classique

The story of Paris Saint-Germain’s uninspiring performances in Ligue 1 continued against Olympique de Marseille last night in the latest edition of Le Classique. While the 2-1 scoreline favored the reigning French champions, you could make the argument that Marseille deserved at least a point considering their gutsy performance on the road without their traveling supporters.

Coming into the match, Paris were expected to dominate their bitter rival who came into the match sitting in sixteenth place and struggling to steady the ship with a new manager. Laurent Blanc revealed a starting XI that I called one of the best in Europe before kickoff and all expectations were for a convincing win both performance-wise and on the scoresheet. Oh, how wrong we all were.

From kickoff, Marseille seemed quicker to the ball and launched repeated attacks at the PSG defense. Paris meanwhile seemed to still be shaking off the effects of their mid-week trip to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. In the 30′ minute Marseille were rewarded for their positive play with a goal from Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian headed home a brilliant cross from Abdelaziz Barrada and put Les Olympiens ahead 0-1.

In the 41′ minute PSG would equalize thanks to a ridiculous back pass that nearly put Zlatan Ibrahimovic through on goal. Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda awkwardly ran into the big Swede and impeded his progress and a penalty was awarded. With the goal, Ibrahimovic tied Pauleta as Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time leading scorer. It wouldn’t be long before he claimed the record all to himself.

Three minutes after slotting home PSG’s first goal on the night and his 109th for the club, another penalty was awarded after Ibrahimovic’s header was handled by Marseille defender Rolando. You can call it soft all you want but it was clearly a handball and the right call was made by the referee. The stage was now set for Zlatan to become Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time leading scorer and he didn’t disappoint.

If the first half belonged to Ibrahimovic, the second half was all about Kevin Trapp. The German keeper was sensational and while his back four struggled at times, he more than made up for his howler against Bordeaux with a series of standout saves.

In the 54′ minute, Serge Aurier fouled Barrada in the box and yet another penalty was given. Barrada stepped up hoping to tie the game but with Rihanna looking on, Trapp made the save of the season.

In the waning moments of the match, Trapp made another world class save to secure PSG’s eighth consecutive win over their rivals and moved them five points clear at the top of the table. Zlatan will make all the headlines tomorrow but it was Trapp who stood tall and silenced his critics.

While it feels good to win against your rivals, it must be said that PSG failed to score from open play and were second best for long periods of the game to an inferior Ligue 1 side. Or, as @PSGTourist calls it, “peak PSG.”

Edinson Cavani was absent for most of the match and when he did show up he gave the ball away or blasted a shot into the stands. Marco Verratti’s only real contribution was a yellow card he picked up in the second half and Blaise Matuidi failed to boss the midfield as he so often does with his work rate. The rest of the squad was just as disappointing and you have to say the team is lucky to walk away with the win.

With the international break on the horizon, Paris Saint-Germain are right where they hoped to be in the standings of both Ligue 1 and their Champions League group but Blanc must demand better performances from his squad and might even want to consider infusing some youth into the starting XI.

After the break, PSG face Real Madrid twice in a span of thirteen days with matches against AS Saint-Etienne and Stade Rennais in between. Paris have a knack for playing down to their competition so I’m hoping that during this tough stretch of games we’ll see the world class talent on this team elevate their play and announce their intentions to both their domestic and European rivals.

Tags Blaise Matuidi Edinson Cavani Kevin Trapp Ligue 1 Marco Verratti Marseille Serge Aurier Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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