PSG vs. Lyon: 6 Things We Learned
It was far from convincing, but Paris Saint-Germain got the win they needed over Lyon to secure the top spot for the first time since early November.
A 1-0 victory at the Parc des Princes wasn't pretty, but it was what Carlo Ancelotti's side needed to recapture the lead in the title race after a difficult past six weeks. Blaise Matuidi's header on the stroke of half-time was enough to settle a contest of few clear chances. PSG's performance hardly set the pulses racing but at this stage of the season, Ancelotti needed a big three points.
The win caps a run of three straight league wins for the capital club, ending a difficult six week spell positively. Les Parisiens top on goal difference as Lyon and Marseille also share 35 points from 18 games. The Brest away game is last up for Ancelotti's side who can guarantee a second consecutive autumn championship with victory in Brittany on Friday.
1. PSG Needs to Learn to Handle the Pressure of Being Title Favourites
From the start at the Parc des Princes, PSG looked tense, anxious and not in control of the match. It seems obvious that without an early goal, Ancelotti's men become restless and the expectations of the fans and themselves become a destructive force.
There is no question that on paper, les Parisiens have the strongest team, but on the pitch they are still short of that strong winning mentality. Like great sides such as Manchester United and Barcelona, PSG has yet to develop the appetite of champions. The talent is there—now they need to work on their self-belief that sets good and great teams apart.
2. Lyon Is a Genuine Title Contender
Remi Garde's men entered the tie suffering something of a mini injury crisis, but that wasn't evident as they bossed a scrappy first half in their title rivals backyard. PSG's opener through Blaise Matuidi on the stroke of half-time was against the run of play; Lyon had dealt with their hosts' star talent brilliantly until that point.
Despite the capital club's array of star talent, Lyon has the one thing that they can't buy: team spirit. That understanding has come from a tight knit side born out of academy graduates, experienced members in key roles and a number of well thought-out transfers. PSG still resembles a randomly assembled unit.
Over the course of the season Lyon will be a force to be reckoned with as Ancelotti's side seek to capture the title.
3. Rightly or Wrongly, PSG's Star Quality Will Tell
Up against a determined Lyon side, PSG looked second best for large parts of the game. However, the turning point was Matuidi's opener for the hosts, which stemmed from Thiago Silva's interception in defence. The former AC Milan defender dispossessed Lisandro Lopez before switching defence to attack brilliantly.
An expensively assembled combination of Silva, Ibrahimovic and Matuidi resulted in the crucial goal of the night. Silva has come into his own in PSG colours since taking over the captain's armband—now he looks to have officially usurped Christophe Jallet as the leader of the side.
4. Lyon Can Only Go so Far Without Further Investment
Jean-Michel Aulas has a side that he can be proud of—challenging for the title whilst he constantly cuts costs and sells key members out of the squad without replacement.
However, if he wants OL to add to their seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles with an overdue eighth, he will need to put his hand in his pocket once again and stop balancing the books.' Remi Garde's side currently only boast Yoann Gourcuff and Lisandro Lopez as the club's real high earners, the Gerland supremo needs to be able to add one or two supplementary talents. Or at least to be able to hold onto current star performers such as Bafetimbi Gomis, who has been linked with a January move.
5. Zlat's Your Man-Unstoppable Ibra
What else is there to say about him that has not already been said?
Once again, Ibra was the difference between PSG and their opponents at a crucial stage of the match. His perfectly weighted cross provided Matuidi with an easy finish that the former Saint-Etienne man took delight in placing past his former Rhone rivals.
The Swede, iconic as ever, has now been involved in 21 of the capital club's 33 goals in Ligue 1. That is 17 goals and four assists and counting. It's not even Christmas.
6. Lyon Needs to Stop Relying on Gomis
The frustration on Bafetimbi Gomis' face as he was substituted with five minutes remaining told its own story.
The 27 year old frustrated on a night of few chances. When on song this season, Lyon and Gomis in particular have flourished. However, when the 10-goal striker is not finding the net, it is unclear who else will. Michel Bastos has contributed well of late, but his five goals have tended to come in bursts of erratic form.
Lopez, on the other hand, also has five, but his goals have been interspersed over seven scoreless appearances this season (four of which were consecutive), hardly justifying his high salary amidst Aulas' cost-cuts. If OL are to win the title, the Argentine international will need to finder greater consistency.