Determined Guingamp almost upset lacklustre PSG

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty ImagesAlex's late goal saved PSG from a shock loss at Guingamp.

Paris Saint-Germain needed a late Alex header to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw at EA Guingamp's Stade du Roudourou in Ligue 1 on Saturday. The champions had looked in danger of slipping to their second defeat of the season when Mustapha Yatabare gave the hosts a deserved 1-0 lead with only six minutes remaining, but the Brazilian defender struck back three minutes later to spare PSG's blushes.

- Report: PSG narrowly avoid loss

Coach Laurent Blanc was left with plenty of food for thought as the side from the capital struggled once again when faced with limited opposition.

The Coupe de France defeat at home to Montpellier HSC was a shock to the system, particularly as PSG dominated the possession in midweek but simply lacked the goals to win the game. It was pretty much the same story against Guingamp too, with Jocelyn Gourvennec's side also having work hard with less of the ball. But the Parisians were once again unable to do anything constructive with it, except for Alex's late equaliser to salvage the 1-1 draw, although that goal came from a corner.

Set piece defending will be one area the PSG coach now forces his players to focus on ahead of next Friday's home game against Girondins de Bordeaux after he saw his side concede a third consecutive goal from a set play. Both of Montpellier's goals came from a free kick and a corner, while Guingamp managed to make the breakthrough with a header from a late corner.

The 1-1 scoreline will likely not bother Blanc too much as it does move PSG one extra point clear of title rivals AS Monaco who play on Sunday, but the nature of the goals conceded will gnaw at him. In terms of the team's approach to the game, they did what was asked of them and dominated possession, boasting 69% overall.

However, they did not create enough chances to accompany that control of the ball.

Against AC Ajaccio earlier in the season, PSG pounded their opponents, but were thwarted by a phenomenal performance from the Corsicans' goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. This time, they did not create a single clear-cut opportunity to score and did well to take their goal through Alex when they did.

Questions will be asked of Blanc's selection, going with Javier Pastore on the left when it has been established that he cannot play there effectively, but really the lack of depth in certain areas of PSG squad is starting to become very obvious.

Marquinhos came in to replace the injured Thiago Silva in central defence, handing Zlatan Ibrahimovic the captaincy, but the young Brazilian looked shaky and Alex was far from reassuring alongside him. Going forward, there was a distinct lack of creativity and Ibrahimovic, Pastore and Edinson Cavani did not function well as a unit.

In this sort of match, a direct approach would have proved far more effective, yet both Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez were left on the bench. The Brazilian was brought on later in the game, but by that time it was too late. Blanc cannot be blamed for wanting to continue Pastore's encouraging recent form, but Guingamp was the wrong sort of match to use him in because of the conditions and the physicality of PSG's opposition.

Thiago Motta thrived in the game because of his ability to get involved and not shy away from physical confrontation, while Pastore left a hole in the team because of his failure to contribute. Pinning the poor defeat solely on the Argentine would be unfair though; too many PSG players underperformed and looked jaded.

Overall, a 1-1 draw against highly motivated opponents is not the end of the world. It will be disappointing to not stretch the potential lead over Monaco further, but the fact that Monaco can only close the gap to within three points is a relief.

With approximately one week left in this month's transfer window, Blanc would be well advised to make one or two moves to bring players in without letting anybody go. The squad has the necessary talent to remain competitive on three fronts between now and the end of the season, but it needs a little more depth to enable better rotation.

However, should Blanc not add to his side before the end of January, then results like this one could become more common.

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