Ancelotti's tinkering tactics paid off v Toulouse
Paris Saint-Germain cruised past Toulouse 3-1 in one of Wednesday’s all-Ligue 1 affairs in the Coupe de France. Despite taking an early lead, the much-changed hosts were pegged back by Alain Casanova’s side and went in level at half time against the run of play.
PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti introduced French international Jeremy Menez as a second half substitute, and he changed the game. Splitting open the TFC defence twice, Menez inspired Argentine duo Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore to a brilliant second half combination.
The capital club displayed the type of confidence and assertiveness that has not been omnipresent this season, despite sitting top of Ligue 1 on goal difference.
This is what the result taught us.
Menez was instrumental in PSG's win over TFC
This season has been one of mixed success for Jeremy Menez. He has successfully been transformed into an effective support striker by coach Carlo Ancelotti, yet he has not contributed as many goals as last year. This is despite now occupying a more advanced role.
However, what he is lacking in goals, he is making up with assists. Often criticised for being a selfish player, Menez is showing an uncharacteristically generous side of himself this term.
His two assists in the second half cameo against Toulouse illustrated that the 25-year-old has accepted his role as a provider and not a predator. This adaptation has cut the number of self-indulgent dribbles that he was guilty of last season and turned them into killer passes.
Sissoko has risen through the ranks with Toulouse but opted against signing a new deal
One glaring absentee from Wednesday’s Coupe de France clash with PSG was Toulouse’s hard-working midfielder Moussa Sissoko. Left out of the squad by coach Alain Casanova, it seems that the French international’s time in the Pink City could be coming to a premature end.
Linked with a move to the English Premier League, it was revealed before the clash that the club have suspended the midfielder who will be a free agent in six months’ time. For the last few seasons Sissoko has been a key part of Toulouse’s success, and now that it is clear that he no longer wants to be there, TFC need to get rid of him and fast.
Against PSG they looked devoid of drive from the midfield, and that is Sissoko’s strong suit; his presence will be hard to offset, but it needs to be addressed before Casanova’s side start slipping down the table again.
Zlatan will have been surprised to see his side play so well in his absence
Earlier in the season when he was suspended, PSG failed to impress without their talismanic striker. Ancelotti’s side were accused of an Ibra-dependence that to some extent was true.
The Toulouse match, though, showed exactly what the team can do without Zlatan on the pitch. Three goals and some sparkling football, the Swede will be lucky to get back on the pitch after this!
Only joking, but in all seriousness, it was an impressive attacking performance given Ibrahimovic’s suspension, and Ancelotti should not lose faith in his attacking options who did not let him down.
The result exposed Toulouse’s lack of strength in depth. Sissoko was unavailable thanks to that internal club ban, but the decision to start top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder and fellow striker Emmanuel Riviere on the bench to rotate the squad was poor.
TFC looked second-best all night, and the makeshift centre-back partnership of full-back Cheikh M’Bengue and youngster Steeve Yago was bound to end badly against the might of PSG’s attack, even without Ibra.
PSG served up some football of the highest quality against Toulouse
Something we haven’t seen that often this season has been free-flowing football from PSG. Here and there the capital club have looked impressive and have played some good football, but rarely have they looked thoroughly convincing.
The Toulouse clash was perhaps one of Ancelotti’s side’s most accomplished showings of the campaign to date. The football was slick, controlled, precise and at great pace when needed. It was sublime to watch at times and is perhaps a sign of a team truly developing a deep bond on the pitch.
Aymen Abdennour's absence for CAN duty was understandable but TFC's defeatist attitude wasn't
Toulouse can be found guilty of perhaps thinking they were beaten before they arrived in the capital, given some of their notable absentees. Or, they preferred to rest players in the match knowing that league points are of greater value than an extended cup run.
Neither are valid excuses. PSG have shown this season that they are beatable in domestic competition when attacked, and TFC have too much quality to go down, despite how far they plummeted in the recent dip in form.
Arguably, if Casanova had played his strongest team from the start instead of leaving the likes of Ben Yedder and Riviere on the bench, then they’d have stood a chance of progressing. Besides, there is a European spot on offer for the winner of the trophy. It does not look like they’ll be coming close to the European places in the league this year.