Paris Saint-Germain concluded their International Champions Cup campaign Saturday night with a 4-0 thrashing over last season’s English Premier League champions.
Edinson Cavani’s penalty in the 26th minute gave PSG the lead and they never looked back. Jonathan Ikone, Lucas Moura, and Odsonne Edouard joined Cavani on the scoresheet to bring the reigning French champions goal tally during the ICC to 10. With a perfect record in the tournament, Paris must now await Barcelona’s results to confirm their successful defense of the title they won last preseason.
Perhaps more important than the result was the return of Thiago Motta who was impressive in midfield. Grzegorz Krychowiak made his debut in a PSG shirt late in the second half as he filled in at center-back for David Luiz. Leicester City were overmatched from the opening whistle but the competition shed more light on Unai Emery’s plans for the upcoming season as well as another look at some of the younger players in the squad.
One thing that has been clear over the span of the tournament is PSG will be far more unpredictable next season. Emery did a lot of tinkering with his tactics—changing formations between the traditional 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1, 4-3-1-2, and so on. This, along with a more robust counter-attack style of play, will be vital as the club looks to break their streak of quarterfinal exits in the UEFA Champions League.
The standout performer for me throughout the preseason is 18-year-old Lorenzo Callegari. An under-the-radar talent from the PSG academy, his play on the pitch was a surprise to many as he displayed maturity beyond his years and slotted in seamlessly in the holding midfielder role. There’s no doubt Emery has taken notice as well, as Callegari played 90 minutes in three of the four preseason matches, including the West Bromwich Albion game prior to the ICC.
Another player that deserves praise is Ikone, who showed flashes of brilliance and scored against Real Madrid and Leicester City. His goal against the Spanish giants was particularly memorable and confirms why PSG went through so much trouble to prevent his departure to Juventus. Depending on how the transfer market goes, a loan move might be ideal in order to see the youngster reach his potential as quickly as possible.
For the team as a whole though, the results come against some of Europe’s elite teams and will certainly boost their confidence heading into next weekend’s Trophée des Champions against Olympique Lyonnais from Klagenfurt, Austria.
Photograph by RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images