Second Look: How PSG Defeated Guingamp

It was a shaky first half against En Avant de Guingamp, but Paris Saint-Germain came back to dominate the second half with the help of Kylian Mbappé who made his season debut. Let’s have a second look at PSG’s come-from-behind 3-1 win over Guingamp.

Guingamp Goal

Nolan Roux: EAG 1-0 PSG

Not a whole lot of explaining needed. Colin Dagba received a long pass off of his chest, loses control, and doesn’t pursue. Guingamp is able to easily finish off the play with just one pass later. While this is obviously a colossal mistake by Dagba, these things are a reality of playing incredibly young and inexperienced players in meaningful games. Even with a poor first touch off of his chest, Dagba would’ve been able to salvage the play if he had gone right for the ball.

Some credit does go to EAG for finishing the play, but this was an absolute sitter in the end. It’s also worth remembering that despite the mistake, Dagba has been perhaps the most impressive academy players for PSG and he played a wonderful game aside from this moment. Young players make these mistakes. It’s nothing to worry about too much as long as he has learned a lesson and corrects the mistake.

PSG Goals

Neymar: EAG 1-1 PSG

Not going to bother with the actual penalty because there is nothing to analysis there. Instead, let’s look at where Neymar Jr. drew the penalty.

First, there is a really wonderful build-up. Countering off of an EAG attack, Rabiot gets the break started and Mbappé makes nothing short of an incredible move to beat two men and then thread a great through ball to Angel Di Maria. A great cross by Di Maria followed by a quick back and forth between Neymar and Mbappé, finished off by a killer move by Neymar.

Wow. These are the moments why these guys are all so expensive. This entire build-up is nothing but world-class players making world-class plays in quick succession. In the end, it was probably a foolish decision by the defender, while Neymar clearly has him beat, there was plenty of help behind him. As it stood though, a very clear penalty and PSG was in a great position to score either way. The entire second half is a pretty good glimpse of the style that Thomas Tuchel wants to see from PSG this season I think and this is a great example.

Kylian Mbappé: EAG 1-2 PSG

PSG had taken full control of the game by this point and it really was just a matter of time before they took the lead. A patient buildup before lightening quick penetration that Mbappé finishes. Di Maria is really the man who creates this though with a brilliant run to get the ball into a dangerous position. Mbappé of course with a lovely finish as well.

Mbappé: EAG 1-3 PSG

Straightforward here. In the closing moments of the game, EAG was simply worn down. Neymar does a lovely job of holding the ball just long enough for the defense to take a slight step towards him and away from Mbappé, then Mbappé uses his absurd quickness to get away. The chip to finish is a nifty touch as well.

What about the disallowed goal for Guingamp?

I mean, it clearly was a tough call from EAG’s perspective. But I’m actually ok with the overturn because with the way he clipped Dagba’s feet is something that offensive players get penalties from all the time. Tough call, but I think the right one. Also worth mentioning that it wasn’t some super delayed call. The ref saw it right away and called for a second look.

The first half was bad though.

Yeah, it was. EAG came out with a ton of energy and PSG was, for the second straight game, just not that sharp. Marcus Thuram was especially problematic.

That is just a great run by Thuram, but it is something PSG will have to get used to. PSG is going to get this sort of energy out of the gate against pretty much every team they play and will have to weather the storm. Thuram was totally gassed by the second half and the EAG attack mostly went with him but had another goal been managed this would be a different game.

There also remained too much sloppy defending at the back. Take this play where Gianluigi Buffon made such a wonderful save:

No one really marks anybody, four defenders follow the ball towards the corner for no apparent reason, and no one really attacks the ball when it is crossed. Just an awful combination of laziness and lack of awareness. You can often live with one of those two things, but you cannot have both. Between this and the disallowed goal, EAG could’ve very easily hung three goals on PSG in the first half.

You think PSG wasn’t that sharp?

Yeah. Not seeing passes, making poor passes and poor touches. Just not doing the things they had to do in order to control the ball. While he was far from the only one, Adrien Rabiot had an especially ugly game.

On the initial run he makes a bad touch and has to slow down and dump it off to Neymar, then when he finds the ball back in the corner he makes an almost comically lazy pass. Not to pick too much on him but Rabiot had a bunch of plays like this in the game, I’m not going to show them all to you but I struggled to find movements where he successfully made any play that wasn’t fairly obvious and easy.

Just to pick on someone else, look at this play by Di Maria from early in the game:

Nkunku gets back up and is totally free to the goal, but Di Maria either doesn’t see him or doesn’t care and lets rip a long-range strike. For his part, it was a solid strike, but this really has to be a quick back tap to Christopher Nkunku. Di Maria made up for it with a couple of really good plays in the second half, including being heavily involved in two of the three goals, but he had a lot of misses in this game.

So how much of the change was Mbappé in the second half?

A lot obviously, but not as much as many seem to be making it out. Following the disallowed goal EAG had one more flurry of attacking play before PSG took control of the ball at around the 33-minute mark. From that point until half-time PSG pretty well took control of the game and other than the occasional counter-attack EAG never threatened again. The addition of Mbappé just accelerated the process from “EAG is in trouble” to “EAG don’t stand a chance.”

So does that mean Timothy Weah didn’t play well?

No, it doesn’t. Timothy Weah actually played very well and did a good job up front. First off, he had this lovely ball that Di Maria just couldn’t quite slot home:

A great play by Weah every step of the way. Makes a great run, does a great job of controlling the ball and makes a great pass. It would’ve been a tough angle for Di Maria anyways but he should’ve gotten something better than he did out of it. The bigger picture was actually the way the offensive shape was better with Weah in the middle than with Neymar there in the previous game.

Look at the way that Di Maria comes back to the ball and moves around trying to find space a bunch while Weah stays right at the defensive line waiting for a run. Neymar enjoys doing the exact same thing as Di Maria. Neymar likes to come back to the ball and then dribble or pass, Weah has no desires for either of these things. He is out there to score goals and nothing else. The aggression helps keep the pressure on the defense and keep things more open on the wings. Mbappé is so much better than Weah that it ended up being a huge improvement of course, but Weah played well.

What changed in the second half?

Once again, PSG had started to take control of the game already in the final 15 minutes of the first half, when they came back out, with the addition of Mbappé, they totally dominated the game. This is literally the way they started the second half.

They are patient but not just aimlessly passing, then they attack. When they lose the ball they immediately win it back and go right back into attack. And it wasn’t just the offense, it was the defense too. The few times where EAG managed to get out on a counter PSG was ready and played it pretty much perfectly:

It’s a decent counter initially by EAG and Silva is even beaten, but PSG hustles back and by the time the ball is put into a dangerous area there is just two red shirts and five white shirts plus Buffon and there never ends up being any real threat. With how aggressive PSG is likely to play this year, chances will happen and some teams will manage to capitalize, but this sort of defensive shape and effort will make it very tough.

Final Takeaway

EAG is not a bad team and they are very tough at home. PSG took a hard first punch and weathered the storm. I think that, as a team, PSG may have needed something to wake them up a little bit, and it appeared that the disallowed goal did just that. To then add Mbappé into that in the second half was just wonderful, to remember that Edinson Cavani will get added into this in the coming weeks is also very nice to think about.

Anything fun?

Even though Di Maria kind of blows it at the end, this was a lovely build up right at the start of the second half:

And when Mbappé did this I knew that there was no way Paris could lose:

Wow! This guy is incredible.

It was a fun game but check back soon for more video recaps.

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Posted by Joe Sinke