Not the best of matches from Paris Saint-Germain as they struggled to come out on top in the Trophee de champions held in Gabon (fifth straight year outside of France), but some Zlatan Ibrahimovic magic and especially Laurent Blanc using youngsters like Hervin Ongenda and Kingsley Coman gave the club its first trophy in the competition since 1998.
Bordeaux held the lead from the 38th minute till the 81st, with Henri Saivet’s header enough to hold them in control of the match. The combination of Lucas, Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi didn’t work very well behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, some Ongenda, Coman and Marco Verratti (for Thiago Motta) came on to save the day.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked rejuvenated once the younger players stepped on the pitch, and a wonderful pass found Ongenda for the equalizer. It was the 18 year old’s third goal for the club, but unless Cavani, Lavezzi and Menez go through some sort of hellish season, it’s hard to see him getting too many minutes.
The most dangerous of the young players was Coman, who turned 17 a month ago. He was the one who orchestrated most of the attacks during the final 10 minutes, with PSG pushing hard to find an equalizer, while Lucas Moura had one of his more unnoticeable days since joining the French club last season.
However, it was a Lucas free kick that gave PSG the dramatic stoppage time win, with Alex scoring the game winner.
Lavezzi was his usual self – industrious and very active, but there’s a reason such a hard to stop striker has only three goals to show for from his first season in France. Lavezzi is excellent when playing on the wing or well behind the striker, not relied on to provide finishing. Once that happens, all of his faults come to light.
Another problem with Lavezzi moving forward was Javier Pastore playing on the left wing, which is probably the worst place on the pitch to put him. Laurent Blanc should have known better, and yet it didn’t matter. The Argentinian player hardly put in a meaningful play all through the match, which might turn him into one of the more expensive bench players in the world if he keeps this up.
Marco Verratti not starting wasn’t understood as well. Thiago Motta and Matuidi in the defensive midfield is too much of the same thing, while Verratti provides more intelligence and intent to go forward when he’s on the pitch. He might be tiny in stature and lacks the physical abilities needed to be a stopper, but for an initiating team there’s no need for two players like that on the pitch.
Cause for worry might be the defense, especially Alex and Christophe Jallet. The Brazilian was supposed to leave the club, but for now he’s remained, which keeps Marquinhos and Sakho away from the lineup picture, where they should be. Thiago Silva needs a better partner. Jallet? He was the Achilles heel all day for PSG, doing a bad job as right back which also allowed Bordeaux to score the opener.
Expectations are high for the French champions, in Europe and at home, obviously. The attack seems deep and potent as always, but without fixing those defensive problems Blanc might be another manager that doesn’t last very long under the current regime.