Five Things We Learned From PSG’s Impressive Win Over Marseille

In front of a record crowd at the Orange Vélodrome, Paris Saint-Germain embarrassed rivals Olympique de Marseille and cruised to a 5-1 win. It was the largest defeat handed to OM at their stadium in over 60 years and it’s one that won’t soon be forgotten either. Upon their return to Paris, the players were greeted with quite the welcome party:

It was a complete performance from the reigning French champions and it keeps them within striking distance of league leaders AS Monaco. While the final scoreline is impressive, there’s plenty more to dissect from the latest installment of Le Classique. Here’s what caught my eye:

Pastore is Back

When the lineup was announced, many were surprised to see Javier Pastore. The Argentine has battled injury all season and has only just recently made his way back for a few substitute appearances. His inclusion in a must-win game on the road was a curious move by Unai Emery to say the least and making it through the 90 minutes without injury would have been a successful showing. El Flaco did much more than that. He was brilliant on the night, assisting Edinson Cavani for the game’s second goal and displayed his world class ability throughout. PSG have been without Pastore’s services for most of the season so having him back and in form bodes well with UEFA Champions League and the Ligue 1 title race heating up.

Draxler is the Real Deal

We learned at halftime that Julian Draxler was left on the bench due to an illness. Upon hearing the news and seeing the scoreline, I doubted Emery would bring the Germany international into the game. Then, in the 55th minute, Draxler came on to replace Pastore and you would have never guessed he was ill. In 35 minutes of action, Draxler scored a goal and completed 94 percent of his passes leading to rate him a 7.6 on the night. Rarely do January signings pay dividends this early but Draxler is proving to be worth every bit PSG paid for him.

Big Game Performances

Much has been written about PSG’s shortcomings in big games but here lately, Emery and his squad have made things difficult for the media by stringing together impressive wins that any team in Europe would be proud of. No one gave PSG a chance against FC Barcelona–present company included. Not only did they win but they dominated the Spanish champions like no one has before. Then, with Monaco threatening to run away with the league title, Paris went into the cauldron that is the Vélodrome (without the PSG Ultras due to safety concerns) and scored early and often. It was a blitzing performance that you rarely see from them in league competition. There will be plenty of big games in the coming weeks so gaining confidence and experience, especially for the younger players, is vital.

Exciting Title Race

Tinpot league. French farmers. Blah, blah, blah. Unlike the English Premier League, where Chelsea FC currently hold a 10-point lead over Tottenham, Ligue 1 is far more exciting. The top three teams are separated by three points and fourth through seventh is separated by seven points. Les Parisiens are vying for their fifth consecutive league title but there’s a real chance they could miss out. Every league match is important for them from here on out, which will make winning that much sweeter.

Rise of Rabiot

We have a great piece on our site about why Adrien Rabiot is one of the best midfielders in Europe and I recommend you give it a read. The young Frenchman was solid against Marseille but it was his performance against Barcelona in particular that has all of Europe taking notice. Rabiot is under contract until 2019 but Arsenal and Spurs are already sniffing around gauging his interest in signing for them in the summer. As we all know, neither of those clubs will pay the transfer fee PSG would demand so it’s really not worth bothering with. But let’s pretend they do offer a substantial amount. I still don’t think Rabiot will sign because it would be a step down for him. The Qatari’s will pay him well for his services and he’s already supplanted Thiago Motta in the midfield. With plenty of playing time and compensation, I don’t see him leaving a team on the cusp of winning the Champions League to an English side struggling to finish fourth and getting blown out in Europe.

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Tags Adrien Rabiot Javier Pastore Julian Draxler Ligue 1 Marseille Thiago Motta Unai Emery
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