Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 win over Olympique de Marseille at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday brought Ligue 1’s Week 9 to a close. The defending champions sit joint-top of Le Championnat along with AS Monaco, who also have 21 points but a superior goal difference by two.
The side from the principality beat AS Saint-Etienne 2-1 at the Stade Louis II on Saturday to put the pressure on Laurent Blanc’s side. However, the capital club got the win and completed another good weekend for the top two.
Monaco's Radamel Falcao leads the way in the goalscoring chart by three goals over PSG's Edinson Cavani and four goals over PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Here is how Le Championnat’s big three fared this weekend.
For only the second time this season, Falcao failed to find the net for Monaco.
However, his teammates bailed him out this time, with Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and fellow wide man Lucas Ocampos getting their first goals of the season to secure a 2-1 win over Saint-Etienne.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the Colombian, who barely got involved in the action and registered just two shots on target (stats via Ligue1.com).
Once again, the team struggled to bring El Tigre into the game because of his limited ability to work outside of the box. The 27-year-old looked toothless instead as Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez spurned some of the home side’s best chances of the game.
Falcao boasts seven goals in nine starts this season though, so it is hardly a cause for concern.
It was a better weekend for Ibrahimovic, who was the only player of the three to find the net.
Following his inspirational performance in the 3-0 thumping of SL Benfica in the Champions League, the Swede played an important part again at the Stade Velodrome.
Despite not having that much to do throughout the course of the 76 minutes, he came up big when it mattered.
Showing excellent composure, despite the Marseille fans’ best efforts to put off him off in a red-hot atmosphere, Ibra converted a 66th-minute penalty to give the defending champions the points.
His linkup with strike partner Cavani was questionable, but in a game where the most important thing was the result, the towering striker delivered.
Cavani struggled once again, starting the Marseille clash on the right of Blanc’s front three in a 4-3-3 formation.
It is not El Matador’s favoured role, but it appears to be the one that Le President feels he is best with Ibrahimovic also present.
The Uruguayan had few real chances, but did help to force OM goalkeeper Steve Mandanda into one save that led to the PSG penalty when the hosts’ goalscorer Andre Ayew felled Marquinhos.
Five passes from Ibrahimovic to Cavani and six the other way around indicate and improved effort from the pair to accommodate each other. But in a match as important as Le Classique, little attention will be paid to the strike duo’s continued shortcomings.
The international break comes at a good time for Blanc and PSG; the team is performing well on the pitch and Ibra and Cavani can have some time to reflect on their relationship. The coach too can consider things tactically without the pressure of needing to experiment in a game immediately.
After some criticism following some of his early-season performances though, Ibrahimovic will be pleased to have answered with goals against PSG’s two main rivals.
With another international break now here, all Ligue 1 action is on hold for two weeks.
Once resumed, Falcao and Monaco travel to FC Sochaux Montbeliard, while Ibrahimovic, Cavani and PSG entertain SC Bastia.
Falcao, on the hand, will be able to look back at his first nine matches with a great deal of satisfaction as he has delivered on his promise in terms of quantity so far.
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