Paris Saint-Germain vs. FC Lorient: 6 Things We Learned
Paris Saint-Germain moved three points clear at the top of Ligue 1, thanks to a 4-0 win over FC Lorient on Friday. The win moves Laurent Blanc’s side three points clear at Le Championnat’s summit ahead of AS Monaco’s trip to face Lille OSC on Sunday.
Edinson Cavani netted a double, while Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez were also on the score sheet at the Parc des Princes. It was another impressive performance from PSG who, once again, dominated their opponents and won by four goals for a second consecutive league game.
Blanc rang the changes, making no fewer than five changes to the side that drew 2-2 with AS Saint-Etienne last week, but it made no difference. PSG’s rotated stars still had far too much for struggling Lorient who rarely threatened the hosts.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was absent through injury, but Cavani deputised more than adequately, and his two goals move him top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts until Sunday at least. Lorient are now perched just three points above the relegation zone, having played one game more than their rivals, following the heavy defeat.
Here are six things we learned from PSG’s dominant performance.
PSG Moving Away from Ibra-Dependence
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was ruled out of the clash with FC Lorient the day before the match, and plenty of the build-up to the clash focused on whether or not PSG could overcome his absence. Laurent Blanc’s side blew away any lingering hints of last season’s Ibra-dependence with a convincing victory.
Not only were PSG thoroughly dominant in possession, they were clinical in front of goal, too, and took four of their nine clearest chances, according to Ligue1.com’s statistics. Last season, PSG’s biggest problem was not always being able to find a way through stubborn defences when Ibrahimovic was either not on form or frustrated in his efforts.
The signing of Cavani in the summer was to address that problem, and that is exactly what the Uruguayan has done. With nine goals now to his name, so far this season, following his double, El Matador has overtaken AS Monaco’s Radamel Falcao at the top of the scoring charts until Sunday at least.
It is not just Cavani who has taken the burden off Ibrahimovic’s shoulders though; Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez were also on the score sheet to complete the 4-0. Nine different players have scored for PSG this season, compared to Monaco’s six.
Injury Woe for Lorient
FC Lorient were thoroughly outplayed by a dominating PSG side, but it is impossible not to wonder what might have been had Les Merlus not been so weakened by injury before and during the match.
Alain Traore has been a long-term absentee and featured on the FCL team sheet for just the third time this season, despite not getting onto the pitch. Jeremie Aliadiere, who came off injured after just 23 minutes, is also another important player for Christian Gourcuff’s side and has recently suffered a number of niggles.
Without their two key men fully fit, the side have little hope of winning games like this one or the other vital matches they need to triumph in to avoid relegation. Because of recent transfer dealings, the team’s most important players are now fewer in numbers because of the considerable talent regularly sold off by the Breton side.
That was clear at the Parc des Princes. It must be galling to see the likes of Mario Lemina unable to get into the starting XI at Olympique de Marseille when Lorient badly need his quality in midfield. Bruno Ecuele-Manga and Raphael Guerreiro were able to put in decent performances, but they were the exceptions.
If Lorient are serious about surviving in Ligue 1, they need their relatively shallow squad to stay injury-free. A disrupted start to the season has already cost them a lot of points.
Lucas Moura Is Growing in Confidence
Following his impressive showing in the 4-0 home win over SC Bastia recently; Lucas Moura delivered another encouraging performance against FC Lorient. The Brazilian contributed an assist and deserved a goal against the Corsicans but scored and provided another against FCL.
Overlooked by Luiz Felipe Scolari for Brazil’s upcoming November friendlies, the 21-year-old needed to react strongly. He did just that, scoring with a volley after less than three minutes and assisting Edinson Cavani’s first goal inside of the first half.
The Selecao star appears to be growing in confidence with every touch of the ball. His last few performances have been more and more similar to those exhibited when he first arrived in the French capital in January.
Although Moura’s second-half performance was not as good as his first 45 minutes, he did enough to, perhaps, secure the man of the match award. Given his recent struggles at the international level, a strong run of pre-Christmas form could be enough to get him back into contention for Brazil.
Investment Needed at Lorient
Similar to the first point made, FC Lorient are lacking quality at present. But it is not quality that is beyond their means either. The questionable late sale of Mario Lemina to Olympique de Marseille on the final day of the transfer window was a big blow for Christian Gourcuff.
Some of that money, although only €5 million, should have been made available for reinforcements. Deciding to dispense with a talented youth academy product for such a small fee, when there are players within the side who are capable of attracting greater sums and are more injury-prone, is bemusing.
There is value to be had within the French market, and FCL could benefit from that. However, in order to do so, investment must be made in the side. Without it, Lorient are looking at a long season fighting relegation, and they may end up paying for their transfer dealings.
Squad Depth Adequate for PSG
Questions have been asked of PSG’s squad depth at various points early in the season, and those queries have been answered in some of the recent performances from Laurent Blanc’s side.
Le President has enough talent available to him to be able to rotate his squad considerably prior to Champions League clashes, and that is exactly what he is doing.
There is no quality lost in those changes, and the likes of Lucas Digne, Christophe Jallet, Adrien Rabiot, Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez all made a seamless transition into the side.
Blanc was even able to substitute a number of other key players in Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta during the second half in order to bring quality off the bench. Javier Pastore returned to the Parc des Princes in place of Verratti and was impressive, despite being booed in his last appearance.
Time for a Change at Lorient?
FC Lorient looked out of ideas during their 4-0 defeat to PSG. Given their struggles this season and the fact that coach Christian Gourcuff has been in charge of Les Merlus for over 10 years (in his third spell at the club), it could be time for a change.
Gourcuff is something of a coaching institution in France, but he seems powerless to stop Lorient’s plummet down the Ligue 1 table this season. After years of punching above their weight, FCL are facing the very real possibility of relegation at present.
While they may be a well-run club off the pitch and a well-drilled one on it, the quality is lacking, and because of that, Gourcuff’s famed style of play (“the Lorient way” as it is known) is not really possible.
Akin to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but minus the ability to go out and buy a Mesut Ozil, Gourcuff might decide sooner rather than later that there is only so long he can coach a team that repeatedly sells its best assets.