Paris Saint-Germain extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 10 points with a slender victory at bottom club Troyes. The men from the capital have all but secured their first league title since 1994, but this was an encounter that revealed more about two teams fighting for different goals. Here are six things we learned from PSG’s win over the club from the champagne region.
Salvatore Sirigu is the best goalkeeper in France
Often underrated because of PSG’s spending power and status as favorites to win the majority of the games they play, Salvatore Sirigu has emerged as one of the best stoppers in Europe. Against Troyes, he once again demonstrated why he is the top keeper in Ligue 1.
The Italian was only meant to be a backup to Nicolas Douchez when he joined the club in 2011, but his performance at the Stade de l’Aube exemplified why he has been able to cement his No. 1 place at the Parc des Princes.
Sirigu made a number of fine saves, thwarting Fabien Camus, striker Marcos and Troyes’ top scorer Benjamin Nivet within the first half-hour of the game. The former Palermo man was fortunate to see Stephane Darbion’s shot crack the frame of the goal, but Carlo Ancelotti should be grateful he has a stopper of Sirigu’s quality in between the posts.
Troyes have the quality to escape relegation
Many will have seen this result as another nail in the coffin for Troyes’ hopes of survival, but while it is looking increasingly likely that Jean-Marc Furlan’s men will be relegated, the effort and invention they displayed show that they can still pull off a great escape.
Furlan was without teenage sensation Corentin Jean for this one, and although his troops were unable to earn a positive result without the 17-year-old, the showings of the likes of Camus and Darbion will at least give the Troyes boss hope that he can guide them to Ligue 1 safety.
PSG can win without Ibrahimovic
Often during this season, PSG have had to rely on the goals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede’s form has been wondrous, but at times it has raised questions about the side’s ability to see off teams without his goals.
Against Troyes, they helped to dispel those fears, stymieing a highly motivated and embattled outfit before striking the killer blow through Blaise Matuidi’s second-half strike. Ibrahimovic’s direct replacement Kevin Gameiro may not have netted, but PSG displayed desire and composure to secure victory without their prolific center-forward.
Age is just a number
Most footballers over the age of 35 are considered to be over the hill, but Troyes' Benjamin Nivet is proving the critics wrong by performing exceptionally in the top flight.
The 36-year-old midfielder has already scored nine goals this season and caused the visiting defense plenty of problems in another intelligent display.
Nivet will be key to Troyes' hopes of staying in the division, as will youngster Corentin Jean. The academy product has a distinct lack of experience at the top level, but he is another player who is bucking a trend by reacting positively to being thrown in at the deep end.
Troyes were not able to find the back of the net without Jean’s prowess in front of goal and will need both he and Nivet—two players at very different stages in their careers—to keep their Ligue 1 place.
PSG have the depth to win multiple trophies
Following their exertions in the Champions League in Barcelona, it would not have been surprising to see PSG deliver a poor performance against the Ligue 1 basement boys.
Ancelotti’s side went toe-to-toe with what many people believe is the best team to have ever played the game, only going out of Europe’s premier club competition on away goals after consecutive draws.
Despite suffering obvious fatigue from their heroic collective effort at Camp Nou, PSG rallied and earned a vital win against Troyes. This is a testament to the spirit within the squad and the depth currently present in South-East Paris.
Being able to call on quality players such as Gameiro, Gregory van der Wiel—who provided the assist for Matuidi’s winner—and Mamadou Sakho is a luxury not many teams possess. If PSG go on to win a domestic double, their squad depth will be a big factor in their success.
Blaise Matuidi is the complete midfielder
If it weren’t evident before Saturday’s game, it should be clear as daylight now. Blaise Matuidi is a world-class midfielder who should be a regular for PSG and France for years to come.
The former Saint-Etienne man was suspended for the second leg of their tie with Barcelona and came back to provide the telling touch in this crucial league clash.
Matuidi had previously netted the goal at the Parc des Princes that kept the Parisians level with Messi and company and popped up with another valuable goal in this game.
The 26-year-old has arguably been Paris’ player of the season, and his tireless, all-action performances have played a huge part in the club’s progress this term. In an age when energy, pressing and fluidity in midfield are valued above almost every other aspect of football, Matuidi is a player whom any manager would love to have in his side.