Ligue 1’s three top talents were all pitted against each other last week as Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco faced off at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.
The match finished 1-1, but two of the three star names got themselves on the scoresheet. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the opener before Radamel Falcao netted an equaliser inside of 21 first half minutes.
Despite the goals, it was not an ideal night for anybody, with both sides probably feeling that they could have done more to get the win.
Ibrahimovic and teammate Edinson Cavani will be particularly disappointed that they could only muster one goal at home and the Uruguayan continues to be a problematic character for coach Laurent Blanc to solve.
Here is a summary of the trio’s exploits in Ligue 1’s Week 6.
Going into Sunday’s clash, Falcao had four goals from five Ligue 1 games. Now he is the joint top scorer in France alongside teammate Emmanuel Riviere and Evian Thonon-Gaillard’s Kevin Berigaud with five goals for the season after netting Monaco’s equaliser.
Showing expert predatory instincts in the 21st minute, the Colombian threw himself at the ball to stoop a low header past Salvatore Sirigu after Layvin Kurzawa’s cross had not been dealt with by substitute Zoumana Camara.
After that, it was another relatively quiet evening for El Tigre, who went close from a sloppily conceded free-kick but otherwise had few chances worthy of note.
Once again, the 27-year-old had taken his best chance or half-chance to punish his opponents but was made to pay for his side’s lack of continued pressure after scoring the goal.
Considering that Thiago Silva was replaced by Camara 15 minutes in, Falcao will be disappointed that he did not make more of the mismatched defensive pairing of the ageing Frenchman and young Brazilian Marquinhos.
After missing a penalty in midweek against Olympiakos in the Champions League, Ibrahimovic had some making up to do.
He needed just five minutes to do so.
Maxwell burst forward on the left before delivering an inch-perfect cross that Ibra smashed home to open the scoring for PSG.
After that, the Swede began to focus on his responsibilities as the team’s provider and not just one of the side’s goal scoring threats.
Ibrahimovic took over the captain’s armband once Silva was substituted and started to assert his authority, conducting the play and having a couple of efforts on goal.
Although the first may have been highly speculative, he should have done better with a close-range header that he sent clean over the crossbar. He had another chance that he created for himself that he instead chose to play toward Ezequiel Lavezzi at the back post instead of going directly for goal himself.
In the second half, the 31-year-old had another excellent opportunity when Lavezzi cut it back into his path at pace but instead of going for a simple finish, Ibrahimovic overcomplicated the shot and flicked it wide when he should have put it past Subasic.
Even if his shooting range was off, his creativity was his impressive and the towering striker laid on a number of other opportunities for his teammates who could not finish them.
While Falcao and Ibrahimovic’s evenings were productive, Cavani’s was counterproductive if anything.
The Uruguayan struggled out wide despite how often he plays in a similar role for his country, and his relationship with Ibrahimovic showed no further signs of blossoming despite some early promise.
The Swede appears to have accepted his altered role within the team since El Matador’s arrival, but the former Napoli man is yet to do the same with his.
Cavani’s night could be summed up by him taking a free-kick away from Ibrahimovic, only to blast the ball straight into the wall in frustration at having received few chances throughout the match.
The 26-year-old did have some other chances though. Firstly, he shot wide for a tight angle after racing through on goal in the first half.
Secondly he saw a late effort heroically blocked by Italian defender Andrea Raggi before he flashed a header wide when half of the stadium thought that it had gone in.
Arguably Cavani’s worst performance for PSG so far, he will want to forget this one.
All of the players will have the chance to bounce back on Wednesday when Ibrahimovic and Cavani travel to Valenciennes and Falcao’s Monaco host Bastia.
A few days later Les Monegasques are in Reims, while PSG host Toulouse with their second Champions League group stage clash with Benfica on their minds.
It promises to be a busy week for the three stars of Ligue 1.