Ligue 1: Week 10: Falcao, Ibrahimovic and Cavani Watch
Ligue 1 returned with a bang after the international break. Paris Saint-Germain won their first game back in action, but AS Monaco had to settle for a draw.
The defending champions were in impressive form, destroying SC Bastia 4-0 in their 1000th home match at the Parc des Princes.
Meanwhile Les Monegasques struggled to an eventual 2-2 draw with FC Sochaux-Montbeliard under new coach Herve Renard, having led 2-0 inside of 10 minutes.
That result means PSG stay top of Le Championnat and are ahead by two clear points for the first time this season.
The capital club’s two big-name stars, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, were in sensational form. Both bagged an excellent brace apiece in separate halves against their Corsican opponents on Saturday.
Each player netted one stunning strike, both of which are early contenders for the French goal of the season award.
Monaco’s star Falcao, on the other and, was muted.
He took a back seat as 20-year-old Belgian starlet Yannick Ferreira Carrasco scored twice before watching his side fall apart under pressure from their reinvigorated hosts.
Here is a breakdown of how Ligue 1’s three star strikers fared individually this weekend.
Falcao’s Monaco travelled to Sochaux knowing that a win by two clear goals or more would take them back to the top of Ligue 1 on goal difference.
Inside of 10 minutes, Claudio Ranieri’s side had achieved that through Ferreira Carrasco’s two opportunistic goals.
But the newly promoted side came back in the second half thanks to Les Lionceaux, who showed excellent character in Renard’s first match in charge.
For Falcao, it was once again a game of a few half-chances but no more than that.
The Colombian displayed some heavy touches on the ball, particularly from a corner in the final 10 minutes when his side desperately needed to create an opportunity.
A booking for over-aggression in a challenge on Sochaux defender Carlao at the end summed up El Tigre’s miserable afternoon.
The result should serve as a real wake-up call for the Colombian and his big-name teammates, including the likes of Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez.
In an average Ligue 1 season these types of physical, hard-fought encounters are common. Just ask PSG, who lost 3-2 at the Stade Bonal last season.
These sorts of matches are the reality of a Ligue 1 campaign. Falcao has to get used to it and find a way to start imposing himself more regularly.
Rating: 1/5 - Drifted in and out of the game and looked isolated up front at times. Monaco’s weaknesses and over-reliance on Falcao are starting to get exposed. Needs to do more for his team outside of the box.
For Ibrahimovic and PSG, things just keep getting better and better.
The Swedish international was instrumental in the team’s victories over Benfica in the Champions League and Olympique de Marseille leading into the recent international break.
He proved decisive once again against Bastia, netting a 13-minute double to put the game beyond reach for the Corsicans almost immediately.
Ibra’s opener on 10 minutes has football fans all over the world purring over his ingenuity as he managed to pull off the most complex of back-heel volleys, making it look nonchalant in the process.
His second was more standard fare, but it was still a good header from an excellent Lucas Moura free kick.
Substituted at half time, the talismanic striker’s job was done and Laurent Blanc decided not to risk him further with a Champions League trip to Anderlecht next week.
Questions were asked of Ibrahimovic’s importance when the French champions signed Edinson Cavani for a French record transfer fee this summer.
Over the past few weeks he has answered emphatically that he remains PSG’s key man, despite a good early season contribution from Cavani.
Rating: 5/5 - Two goals in 45 minutes of football, what more can you ask for? One outrageous strike and a second well-taken goal, Ibrahimovic is not taking a back seat this season, as many expected.
With Blanc not risking Ibrahimovic for the second half, Cavani was introduced, having started on the bench because of his international involvement in the days building up to the game.
Seventeen minutes after entering the field, the Uruguayan did this.
If Ibrahimovic’s goal was the more spectacular of the two in the match, then Cavani’s was equally as impressive but for different reasons.
With Ibra, we have arguably come to expect that sort of genius. However, that should take nothing away from an absolutely breathtaking finish.
But Cavani, not known for his dribbling ability and magnetic ball control, may as well have told the Swede “anything you can do, I can do just as well.”
PSG lost none of their quality following El Matador’s introduction and continued to press for goals despite their two-goal cushion.
Cavani actually had a number of chances to score his second of the game long before he did, from the penalty spot, after former PSG goalkeeper Mickael Landreau clumsily fouled Lucas Digne.
The 26-year-old thumped home the spot kick. He moves up to six goals from 10 appearances.
Rating: 4.5/5 - Like Ibrahimovic, what more can you want from your striker in one half of a football match? With two goals and one excellent finish, Cavani was at his best. He loses half a point because his second was a penalty.
So Falcao stays on seven goals in the chase for the golden boot, but Cavani is now just one behind him with six and Ibrahimovic is also in the mix on five goals so far.
The competition to finish as top goal scorer in France just went up a notch in intensity after it had looked as if the Colombian would run away with it.
With PSG finding such formidable form and Monaco faltering somewhat, the next few weeks are crucial for the side from the principality and their star man Falcao.
Next up for Les Monegasques and El Tigre, a home clash with struggling Olympique Lyonnais next Sunday.
For PSG, Ibrahimovic and Cavani, it is a tough trip to face AS Saint-Etienne in the weekend’s final fixture.
Falcao will be aiming to gun down Lyon to give his side a one-point lead and put the pressure back on their title rivals.
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