Paris Saint-Germain overcame an early scare on the road Wednesday night to secure their first three points of the UEFA Champions League season.
Local champions Ludogorets Razgrad seemed far too comfortable on the ball and when Les Parisiens conceded the game’s first goal in the 15th minute, everything pointed towards an unlikely upset. Fortunately for the reigning French champions, they bounced back in the second half and went on to win comfortably 1-3.
The end result may be flattering but it’s not a true reflection of what happened on the pitch throughout the 90 minutes. Unai Emery will want to revisit his tactics before facing FC Basel back-to-back in the Champions League. First though, here is my “Good & Bad” from Ludogorets vs. PSG.
The young Frenchman is rumored to be PSG’s new starting keeper and is currently experiencing a nice run of form, including a stellar performance against Arsenal in the Champions League previously. The former Villarreal CF keeper had one parried save and four total saves against Ludogorets according to whoscored.com, which proves not only how reliable he is but how he can also concentrate when only tested a few times during the course of a match—something Kevin Trapp has struggled with. Areola conceded a goal early in the match but wasn’t at fault since the wall covering the free kick collapsed. After that though, he was brilliant, saving a crucial penalty in the 58th minute and sweeping the field when PSG were holding a high defensive line.
El Matador continues to silence his critics with goal-scoring performances and against Ludogorets, Cavani took another step towards slaying his European demons with a brace. The Uruguayan out-jumped everyone in the 55th minute to superbly deflect an Angel Di Maria free kick into the back of the net for his first goal of the night and struck again in the 60th with a brilliant looped shot that beat Vladislav Stoyanov to complete the comeback win. Whoscored.com gave Cavani an 8.9 rating, making him the man of the match. The 29-year-old is clearly working hard to put his early-season struggles behind him and it’s great to see him finishing his scoring chances.
Big Bad Blaise has had an up-and-down season up until now but in a game where limits were test, Matuidi proved why Paris Saint-Germain were right for refusing to sell him during the summer. The goal he scored in the 41st minute was the reward for how exceptionally he beat the offside trap but more importantly, it helped easy the nerves of many PSG supporters who were worried about a possible upset. He was probably the most influential figure on the pitch and covered acres of space. He contributed four tackles and also had a fantastic pass accuracy of 89 percent according to Whoscored.com. Emery will have midfield selection headaches after performances like this because Matuidi has definitely earned his place in the starting XI.
The Italy international had probably one of the worst matches of his career. At the start of the match, Motta was deployed as a number 5 in a three-man midfield that resembled Laurent Blanc’s usual formation. Brazilian forwards Marcelinho and Jonathan Cafu, who are not world class players by any means, constantly caught him out and made a fool of the former Inter man. As if that wasn’t enough, he gave away the free kick that gifted Ludogorets the lead with a laughable tackle and continued his torrid performance by diving headfirst into Marcelinho in the 57th minute to concede a childish penalty. In the 79th minute, Grzegorz Krychowiak came on and was given central defensive midfield duties, moving Motta up field. The change improved Motta’s game and proved he can still play, just not as a CDM anymore.
Angel Di Maria
After an impressive inaugural season at PSG last season, El Fideo has struggled to find his form under Emery, recording only two assists in all competitions this season. Against Ludogorets, the Bulgarian champions summarized everything wrong with Di Maria. The 28-year-old tried to be all over the pitch but was constantly loosing balls in the midfield and his passes only went from bad to appalling as the game went on. Whoscored.com gave Di Maria a 79 percent passer rating, well below his teammates, and his only shot on goal was so tame it almost didn’t make it to the goal. Di Maria will have to rediscover last year’s form if he hopes to avoid being benched in favor of Jesé Rodriguez, or even Hatem Ben Arfa.
Photograph by NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images