Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Valencia: What Went Wrong Offensively for Les Parisiens?
Paris Saint-Germain have a star-studded attack.
We've seen them dominate opposition in Ligue 1 thanks to a multitude of stars in the forward line, but without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they looked rather tame in their bout against Valencia.
What went wrong for PSG? Why didn't the 4-2-2-2 formation work against their Spanish opposition?
Was It the Absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was suspended for this game—and will be for the first leg of the quarterfinal—due to the red card he collected in the closing moments of the game at the Mestalla.
In Carlo Ancelotti's new-found 4-2-2-2 formation, Zlatan is the target man Paris Saint-Germain rely upon to play off. He hauls the ball in from his deep-lying midfielders, fends off defenders and uses it wisely, buying his side time to move up the pitch and creating havoc for the opposing defenders to deal with.
Without that staple in the forward line, PSG really struggled to get anything going offensively.
Was It the Misuse of Ezequiel Lavezzi?
Ezequiel Lavezzi is Zlatan Ibrahimovic's regular partner in attack, but he usually drops in to receive the ball in deeper areas or runs off the shoulder of the Swede.
In no way is his game suited to being the prima punta, and Ancelotti trying to run his attack through the Argentine as the furthest man forward didn't work.
With Lavezzi stuck in a position he couldn't play, Paris Saint-Germain still had no presence at the top of the field and lacked the connection between Blaise Matuidi and the strikers.
Was It the Misuse of Lucas Moura?
Perhaps Paris Saint-Germain's most potent offensive weapon at this moment in time, Lucas Moura, positively failed to show up in front of the world's eyes.
Was that his fault? No, not at all. He's been thriving on the right-hand side of Carlo Ancelotti's 4-2-2-2. To stick him in the forward line and ask him to perform Ezequiel Lavezzi's role was never going to work.
He thrives on meeting a defender square-on, and his agility and versatility means he can go either way to beat his man. This was impossible given the position he was in, and we saw just a few very small flashes of his outrageous ability.
At no stage did Lucas receive the ball in the areas he'd have liked.
Did It Even Matter?
Despite conceding that late goal to Valencia at the Mestalla, Paris Saint-Germain walked into this tie knowing they had a commanding position.
Carlo Ancelotti will have been quite happy with proceedings, despite them being dull for the neutral, after he placed his faith in a renewed defensive line (boasting the presence of Thiago Silva) to keep los Che out and win the tie.
Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura did not thrive, Clement Chantome looked a little ropey on the right and there was a general lack of direction in the midfield without Marco Verratti, but does that even matter?
Les Parisiens did what they needed to do over two legs and they did it without the focal point of their offence.
Ancelotti had only just stumbled upon the 4-2-2-2 formation and finally had his squad firing, so was he really going to tinker again and risk unbalancing it?
The offensive mishaps didn't matter because Alex and Silva were colossal, while Blaise Matuidi was a demon possessed in midfield.
A road bump, not a real issue.