Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon: 6 Things We Learned

Jonathan JohnsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2013

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon: 6 Things We Learned

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Paris Saint-Germain inflicted a crushing 4-0 defeat on longstanding domestic rivals Olympique Lyonnais to retake a four-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday.

    The Parc des Princes was treated to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty double, with Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva adding goals from corners (match report via ESPN FC).

    "My team put in a big performance," Laurent Blanc told the press after the match, per PSG.fr (translated from French as a bilingual).

    "I would like to congratulate my players for playing so well and motivating themselves again within the space of three days."

    Ibrahimovic’s double sees him pull in front atop the scoring standings with 11 for the season, while Cavani is one behind him on 10. Both usurp AS Monaco’s Radamel Falcao, who is stuck on nine.

    Despite a mammoth score line, PSG were not at their dominating best and were flattered by a two-goal half-time lead.

    However, a meek second-half showing from Lyon allowed the hosts to double their tally and enjoy an emphatic win.

    Six things we learned from PSG 4-0 Lyon.

Ibrahimovic-Cavani Partnership Now Thriving?

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    Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

    For the second time in consecutive matches, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani were on the same score sheet in a game that they both featured in together.

    After taking their time to both find the net in the same match, it finally happened away at RSC Anderlecht in the Champions League back in October.

    It is the first time in the league that each one has scored in the other’s company, and with every passing match, they appear to be getting better at coexisting.

    On a night when PSG were solid but not outstanding, seeing both score, even if Ibrahimovic’s goals were both from penalty kicks, is massively encouraging.

Lyon Can Pass Too

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    Remi Garde’s side made the most of their possession in the first half, giving their hosts a taste of their own medicine and starving them of the ball at times.

    Despite shipping two goals in quick succession at the end of the first 45, Lyon kept the ball away from PSG whenever possible.

    Few sides have been able to do that this season, and even fewer have tried in Ligue 1, let alone at the Parc des Princes.

    Unfortunately for OL, there was nobody to support Alexandre Lacazette thanks to Bafetimbi Gomis’ late withdrawal through injury.

    The French international’s absence meant an ultimately frustrating night of hard work and little reward for Lacazette.

    Lyon even enjoyed spells of possession in the second half but were disappointing when in control of the ball.

Matuidi 1st-Half Absence

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Blaise Matuidi is a key player for PSG, but we knew that before the match and have for some time.

    His first-half absence, despite the eventual result, was exacerbated given his current contractual situation with the capital club. But an excellent second-half showing then demonstrated exactly what was missing in the first 45.

    PSG fans are right to fear the French international’s departure at the end of the season when his contract expires; the 26-year-old is irreplaceable for a variety of reasons.

    Not only is he an immensely talented midfielder, but he is also a rare domestic gem who commands a starting role.

    His absence at the start of the game was underlined once again by the fact that, for the first time in the club’s history, the starting XI did not field a single French player from the start.

    Was the first 45 minutes, when PSG struggled to hold on to the ball and dispossess their opponents as often as usual, a taste of the not-so-bright future without him?

Lyon Expose PSG Pressure Point

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    Harry Engels/Getty Images

    Although it might sound like an extremely hollow note of consolation given that it made little difference to the 4-0 score line at the Parc des Princes, Lyon’s performance exposed a rarely seen weakness of PSG’s.

    Laurent Blanc’s side struggled when put under constant pressure by OL, and Remi Garde engineered an almost perfect approach that blended possession and pressure.

    That approach is something seen all too little in Ligue 1 when teams take on the defending champions. Sadly, the execution on the night was lacking.

    Other domestic rivals should take note of how little respect Lyon gave PSG and how, with better luck and clinical finishing, that could end the capital side’s impressive unbeaten run.

PSG’s Limited Tactical Flexibility

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    During the clash, PSG switched to a 4-4-2 in order to bring Edinson Cavani into the match alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    The change in style from Laurent Blanc’s preferred 4-3-3 system suited Ibrahimovic and Cavani, but did not benefit the likes of Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura.

    Although, the Argentine did produce two sublime passes: one to set up Cavani’s early penalty shot that was not given, and another to provide the decision that actually did go PSG’s way.

    However, it was an experiment that yielded only limited results.

    The Ligue 1 leaders may have won the match comfortably, but they struggled to get to grips with OL at times in the first half.

    In the Champions League, this could prove to be a particular problem.

Lyon Need to Learn How to Defend

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    PSG have shown on a number of occasions this season that they are adept at making the most of set pieces and hammering home their physical advantage.

    That was clear once again on Sunday; the defending champions scored from two corners and a penalty.

    Laurent Blanc is synonymous with teams capable of utilising set pieces to the absolute maximum, and it has started to become a key feature in PSG’s tactical makeup.

    However, Lyon made it easy for their hosts and undid all of their hard work further up the field with some pitiful defending.

    Remi Garde will be seething at the lack of organisation at the back, something that has been common since the departure of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to Tottenham Hotspur.

    It is not the first time such carelessness has cost OL this season, and it probably won’t be the last.

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