Paris Saint-Germain defeated EA Guingamp 4-0 at the Parc des Princes on Sunday to keep the pressure on AS Monaco at the top of the Ligue 1 table.
The match was much closer than what the score line might suggest. A resilient Guingamp defense looked unbreakable and at halftime with the score 0-0, PSG’s hope of defending their league title seemed to be waning.
Unai Emery pulled the right levers in the second half and unlocked Antoine Kombouaré’s defense with the introduction of Javier Pastore in the 53rd minute. It was one of the best halves PSG have played all season and supporters were treated to an offensive explosion.
Despite the inconsistency from Les Parisiens, there are plenty of positives to take from the match. Here is my “Good & Bad” from PSG vs. Guingamp.
PSG’s top goal scorer this season crafted a world class 45 minute performance on Sunday, which saw him score twice and assist for another. The Uruguay international saw little of the ball in the first half and was handed one clear-cut chance to put his team in front when his glancing header hit the post in the 17th minute and was eventually cleared by the Guingamp defense.
His true heroics wouldn’t be seen until the second half though, when in the 56th minute, he laid off a truly outrageous assist for fellow South American Angel Di Maria to open the scoring. Four minutes passed and Cavani was at it again but this time scoring one for himself after some luck inside the box helped him smash a goal past a hapless Karl-Johan Johnsson.
If that wasn’t enough, Di Maria returned the favor in the 70th minute to help Cavani score his 29th Ligue 1 goal of the season. El Matador‘s goalscoring prowess and tremendous vision earned him two “Man of the Match” honors from WhoScored.com and Goal.com respectively.
The Argentine has spent the majority of the season on the bench due to injuries but he’s been making up for lost time recently. Pastore, who is easily one of the best playmakers in the world, may have earned a place in the starting XI after his performance against Guingamp. Introduced in the 53rd minute at the expense of the highly rated Julian Draxler, Pastore wasted no time in making an impact (first goal came three minutes after his introduction).
His WhoScored.com rating for the match sits at an unfair 7.1, mostly due to his lack of goals or assists in the match, but does not reflect the brilliant vision and quality that Pastore contributed while on the pitch. If El Flaco can stay healthy, he could play a pivotal role in helping PSG overtake Monaco and win another league championship.
Eight goals in all competitions since January for the German international has seen Draxler become an integral part of Emery’s squad in 2017 and eyebrows were raised when he was substituted in favor of Pastore. As curious as the change might have been initially, it turned out to be the right one. Draxler’s absence wasn’t felt and his replacement would have been tipped as “Man of the Match” if not for Cavani’s stellar performance.
WhoScored.com rated the 23-year-old a 6.1, proving his efforts weren’t completely useless but we’ve come to expect so much more from Draxler that Sunday’s match seemed to be somewhat of a letdown. It would be unfair to rule out Draxler after just one mediocre showing but truth is, that mediocrity isn’t widely accepted anymore at the Parc and if the German puts together a string of poor performances, he could find himself sitting on the bench next to fellow winger Lucas Moura.