A brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and three assists from Angel Di Maria powered Paris Saint-Germain to a 5-1 thrashing of Olympique Lyonnais at the Parc des Princes and moved them 17 points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table.
The buildup to this match lacked the intensity it had last season when Lyon were challenging PSG for the top spot in Ligue 1. Les Gones arrived in the French capital without key players Nabil Fekir, Alexandre Lacazette, and Mathieu Valbuena who were all out due to injury while Paris fielded a strong starting XI and welcomed back Marco Verratti back from injury. It was an unfair fight from the beginning.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) December 13, 2015
From the opening whistle, Paris was in control and Angel Di Maria’s full array of skill was on display. The Argentine was the catalyst for nearly every attack and it seemed like every pass would lead to a goal. His through pass to Ibrahimovic in the 4th minute carved open the Lyon defense and nearly led to the first of the match. Seven minutes later though, Ibrahimovic would get his goal:
The Ligue 1 Player of the Month for November now has 14 goals in the league, 3 ahead of second place Michy Batshuayi, and is in amazing form. It’s hard to believe but at age 34, there are few strikers in Europe that are playing better at the moment.
Six minutes after Zlatan opened up the scoring, Serge Aurier added his name to the scoresheet. Di Maria whipped in a cross from just outside the box and the Ivorian attacked like a pit bull after a steak. Unmarked, Aurier’s glancing header flew by a helpless Anthony Lopes and the route was on.
The only blip of the match came in the 24th minute and it could turn out to be a real problem for PSG. Lyon’s Jordan Ferri found himself in space and fired a shot on goal from distance. The shot had some pace behind it but it wasn’t deflected and there was no one blocking Kevin Trapp’s view. Trapp stopped the shot initially but was unable to hang on and the ball looped into the back of the net for Lyon’s first and only goal of the game.
Trapp’s howler is troublesome because it’s becoming more of a regular occurrence rather than a one-off fluke. You have his error against Bordeaux, which cost PSG two points, and then the biggest error from the German keeper came against Real Madrid, which was ultimately the difference between the two sides in Group A of the Champions League.
With Salvatore Sirigu on the bench, Laurent Blanc finds himself with a difficult decision to make. The former Frankfurt man is clearly his first choice but with these errors, can he trust the young keeper heading into the knockout stage of the Champions League? Sirigu, who was held out of the match against Shakhtar Donetsk as to not cup tie him, could be on his way out in January. A number of clubs are rumored to be interested in Sirigu and he could depart the Parc des Princes in January but Blanc may not want to sell his only experienced keeper given Trapp’s affinity for making forehead-slapping decisions.
From one comedic performance to another, Edinson Cavani continued his disappointing form and the Parc faithful let him know about it. In the first half, he flopped after coming into contact with Lopes in hopes of winning a penalty, and he scuffed a shot wide right after a pass from Di Maria. But like he’s done before, he made up for everything by scoring a goal but even that was suspect. He nearly missed the pass played into him by Di Maria and directed a weak shot on target for PSG’s third.
In the 77th minute, working against Henri Bedimo, Ibrahimovic showed his world class skill with some fancy footwork on the edge of the box to beat the young Cameroonian. Bedimo then tackled the Sweden international from behind and a penalty was awarded. Ibra stepped up and buried the penalty, his fifth PK of the Ligue 1 season.
The fifth goal for PSG came from Lucas Moura who was substituted on for Blaise Matuidi in the 82nd minute. The Brazilian didn’t waste much time as he and Di Maria connected on a superb counterattacking goal in stoppage time. The Argentine ran onto the ball after a headed clearance from a Lyon corner and sprinted pass defenders with unbelievable control. Lucas matched him stride-for-stride on the right and Di Maria played a perfect pass to him. Lucas, who often has trouble finishing even the easiest of goals, fired a shot on target like a seasoned striker and celebrated with a backflip.
As with so many Ligue 1 matches for PSG, it’s hard to read too much into the overall performance. There were some positives though. Adrien Rabiot played superbly well in the midfield but can he do that against Europe’s best? Not likely. I believe Blanc should make him honor his contract and keep him in Paris but give him more minutes in league and cup matches to appease him (and his agent mom). Di Maria played out of his mind and his passing will help PSG unlock even the stingiest defenses in the Champions League. And lastly, Ibrahimovic. What more can be said? The guy is a goal scoring machine and is on a mission to prove everyone who said he should retire wrong.
The negatives from the match are clear. Trapp and the goalkeeper position is a real problem for Blanc. With all of his errors, it’s becoming clear that Trapp, and Sirigu for that matter, aren’t quite good enough to be starting every game for a club like PSG. However, Blanc has no other option but to go with one of them for the Champions League. Alphonse Areola can’t return from loan soon enough. Cavani is another unfortunate situation. The Uruguayan is not playing well at all, despite his ten league goals. Played out of position routinely, you have to wonder if he will force a move to a Premier League side this January. A mega-move like that is unlikely in the next transfer window but with teams desperate for a striker, it might be time to cash in on him.
Up next for Paris Saint-Germain is AS Saint-Etienne mid-week in the league cup, but before that game kicks off we have a little matter of the Champions League round of 16 draw on Monday at 11 a.m. GMT. PSG finished second in Group A behind Real Madrid and will face one of the other group winners (Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, VfL Wolfsburg, Zenit St Petersburg).
Check back tomorrow for our thoughts on the draw.