Paris Saint-Germain remain undefeated in 2017 as they comfortably defeated FC Nantes 0-2 at Stade de la Beaujoire on Saturday. It was a game full of talking points but first, we must discuss the brilliance of Edinson Cavani.
Since the new year, Cavani had yet to score after recording 25 goals in the first half of the season in all competitions. All that changed in the 21st minute when the Uruguayan charged into the box to meet a perfectly placed cross from Lucas Moura to put PSG up 0-1. It was a fantastic team goal, one that included Julian Draxler and Thiago Motta linking up as well, but it certainly wasn’t the most thrilling on the day.
In the 65th minute, Cavani would secure the vital three points with a brilliant bending free kick. The goal was Zlatan-esque and with the strike, El Matador became the first player in Europe’s top five leagues to record 20 goals. After struggling against FC Metz and Stade Rennais in previous matches, supporters have to be encouraged to see this kind of performance from Cavani and hope that it continues.
The next two talking points of consequence have to be Draxler’s injury and Marco Verratti’s curious yellow card. In the 30th minute, Verratti was shown the card after he headed the ball back to the keeper.
il prend jaune , j'ai rien compris pic.twitter.com/qcjmRVsrxP
— Philou (@philousports) January 21, 2017
At the time, no one seemed to understand why the Italian was cautioned and several PSG players protested the decision. After the match, referee Johan Hamel explained his decision on television:
The player deliberately bypassed the laws of the game. This is trickery whether the goalkeeper collects the ball or not,” Hamel said on Canal Plus. “The defender — Verratti in this case — should be punished for anti-sporting behavior. He is using improper means to get around the laws of the game. This means an indirect free kick and a booking.” – via ESPNFC.com
The yellow card nearly proved costly later in the first half as Verratti lunged into a tackle and very well could have been sent off. I think it’s fair to say we won’t be seeing Verratti dropping to the pitch to head a ball any time soon.
Draxler’s incident in the second half was much more worrisome. Up until his injury in the 68th minute, the Germany international displayed his full range of skill and continued to impress since his arrival earlier this month from VfL Wolfsburg. His ball control was absolutely breathtaking as you can see below and his pass to Lucas led to Cavani’s first goal.
Fortunately for PSG supporters, Draxler’s calf injury doesn’t appear to be serious, at least according to Unai Emery. Paris face FC Girondins de Bordeaux on Tuesday in the semifinals of the Coupe de la Ligue and I would bet Draxler is rested for that one as a precaution.
It was an impressive win for PSG as Nantes came into the match having won four consecutive league matches. Les Parisiens have struggled on the road this season so to get the win should bring some much-needed confidence to the squad. The defense deserves credit for their contribution to the win streak especially. Nantes didn’t record a shot on goal throughout the 90 minutes and PSG haven’t conceded a goal since the loss to EA Guingamp on December 17.
The only negative, if you want to call it that, is Adrien Rabiot’s absence from the starting lineup in favor of Motta. The Frenchman is coming off an injury and with a hectic schedule coming up, Emery could be trying to save his legs.
I understood Adrien Rabiot sitting out most of Rennes away but I do not understand him starting on the bench here. Must start IMO. #FCNPSG
— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) January 21, 2017
View our favorite images from the match and be sure to check back for our coverage of PSG’s next match against Bordeaux on January 24.