PSG rout Lyon, stay four points clear at the top

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Thiago Silva PSG celeb LyonGettyImagesThiago Silva was on target as PSG made light work of Lyon.

Paris Saint-Germain destroyed Olympique Lyonnais 4-0 at the Parc des Princes on Sunday to re-establish a four-point lead at the top of Ligue 1. The defending champions were not at their best but they didn’t have to be as Remi Garde’s side ultimately made it easy for them, despite having looked capable of springing an upset in the first half. Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted a penalty kick double, while Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva also got on the scoresheet.

Although the 4-0 scoreline suggests that PSG were once again at the peak of their impressive potential, that was not so and the hosts struggled to see as much of the ball as they are used to. Lyon’s possession-based pressuring tactics unsettled Laurent Blanc’s men and they took their time to find their rhythm. However, a combination of PSG’s superior quality and OL’s woeful defending saw the capital side cruise to eventual victory.

While the thoroughness of the triumph is something that won’t remain in the memory for too long, the 4-0 margin of victory will and that is the most important thing to take from the clash. PSG made a side that used to dominate the French football landscape look very poor and if ever Lyon needed clarification of their status within the new order in Le Championnat, they got it here.

Amidst the emphatic victory, Blanc made a number of changes to his side for the match. Javier Pastore was handed a surprise start in place of Blaise Matuidi, who was rested after feeling under the weather during the week, and Lucas Moura replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi after the Argentine’s under-par display in the Champions league win over Olympiakos. It was obvious that PSG felt Matuidi’s absence at the start of the match, but Marco Verratti more than rose to the occasion, putting in a fine performance in midfield.
Pastore and Moura arguably suffered from the decision to play with a 4-4-2 formation, allowing Cavani to pay alongside Ibrahimovic in the middle, but El Flaco still managed to shine fleetingly. The 24-year-old Pastore played two superb passes to his Uruguayan teammate; the first for a penalty that was never given, and the second to provide the side’s first actual spot-kick on the night.

Ibrahimovic and Cavani continue to improve as a partnership; both finding the net for a second consecutive match, having played together at the same time on the pitch. Although El Matador’s goal was an excellent flick header from a Moura corner and the talismanic Swede’s both penalties, the pair are proving that being on the pitch at the same time for the same team is not an unsolvable problem for Blanc.

Le President’s signature team trait of strength from set pieces was also evident with the side taking advantage of two corners and forcing Lyon to commit fouls to supply two penalties. The Frenchman’s dream start to life at PSG continues with this win, but in securing the three points, he set a more unwanted record. Sunday night was the first time in the history of Paris Saint-Germain football club that no French player has been in the starting line-up, with regular starter Matuidi rested.

Hopefully it is not a sign of things to come, but it is also somewhat surprising that it has taken this long to happen, given how much investment has been made in the past few seasons. On the other hand, Lyon boasted seven domestic talents in their starting line-up, but proved that some of France’s current stars on show are just not up to the task.

Considering that the team secured an important 2-1 win over Olympiakos three days before, securing their passage to the last 16 of the Champions League, racking up a 4-0 win over a formerly formidable foe represents steady progress from last season when OL ran PSG closer in their matches. There is no rest for the wicked though as the team will have to be ready for a potentially tricky double header against struggling Evian and Sochaux.

The Savoyard side are of course PSG’s Coupe de France conquerors from last season, while the Montbeliard club inflicted a 3-2 defeat on Carlo Ancelotti’s team the last time the two met. With both battling against the drop and PSG in the middle of a very busy schedule, one game on Wednesday followed by another on Saturday could pose Blanc and his unbeaten side problems, not least in terms of complacency.

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