Last November, a goalkeeping error by Kevin Trapp gifted Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. On Wednesday night in the International Champions Cup, the French champions exacted a bit of revenge.
It may have only been a friendly but to see PSG defeat Los Blancos 3-1 was satisfying to watch. New signing Thomas Meunier had a brace, including one spectacular goal from distance, but it was academy product Jonathan Ikone who got on the scoresheet first with an incredible (and lucky) 20 yard run.
In the first 45 minutes, Paris dominated but it has to be said that this was largely due to a number of first team players missing from the Spanish side. Still, it was a pleasant victory all the same.
Since the start of the Qatar Sports Investments-era, PSG had failed to beat Real Madrid in any of their four meetings (both competitive and friendly matches) with Le Rouge et Bleu losing three of the four—including that demoralizing loss mentioned earlier.
Unai Emery had this to say after the game to the club’s official website:
We are very happy about the results, even if that’s not the most important thing, but it’s very good for team confidence. I’m happy from a tactical point of view, because the players followed my instructions. They’re following on from what we’re practicing in training and that’s a good thing. Those who have played in matches so far have done a good job.
PSG started in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which was a change from the previous match against Inter Milan and suggests a high level of tactical flexibility that will be seen next season. The Parisiens looked much sharper from the start with Ikone leading the charge. Although his goal was a bit fortuitous, his general performance must have scored him some good points with the manager.
Soon after, an injury to captain Thiago Silva saw the early introduction of Meunier, who went on to put in a Man of the Match performance. He scored two goals to match Serge Aurier who did the same against Milan. There is no doubt a competition between Aurier and Meunier for the starting right-back position and it promises to be a good one to watch all season.
Trapp, for the first time this preseason, played the entire match. He was solid in goal and this performance certainly tilts the competition for the starting goalkeeper spot in his favor. Academy player Lorenzo Callegari also got his third consecutive 90 minute match and impressed once more. He’s definitely one to watch out for this season as he seems to be improving game-by-game.
Edinson Cavani was handed his first start in preseason but he didn’t do much to calm the nerves of PSG supporters as he missed at least three scoring chances. Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria also played a part in the match and both displayed flashes of brilliance, which shows they are slowly getting back to form after battling injury.
Meanwhile, Hatem Ben Arfa was given a brief cameo and has yet to find his rhythm within the squad through three preseason matches. Hopefully he can turn that around if he hopes to secure a place in Emery’s starting XI.
Overall, it was a good performance by most of the players. The only negative really being Silva’s injury. However, as long as he’s back before the start of the Champions League, the club has plenty of depth to cover for his absence.
Photograph by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images