Paris Saint-Germain bounced back from their shocking 2-0 defeat at Evian Thonon Gaillard FC in midweek with a thumping 5-0 win (match report via ESPN FC) over Ligue 1 basement boys FC Sochaux-Montbeliard.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was surprisingly off-colour in Annecy, but hit back with a sensational individual performance as PSG collectively tamed Les Lionceaux.
The Swede scored twice and laid on another two as Laurent Blanc’s side crushed their hapless visitors.
"This is a very important victory," explained Blanc to PSG.fr after the match (translated from French as a bilingual).
"We showed on the pitch that it was an accident against Evian. We needed to give a clear response to that result and we did, we did that very well."
Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani were the other names on the score sheet, but it is Ibrahimovic who was the star attraction.
"We put in a great performance today after losing last time," Ibra told PSG.fr after the game (also in French).
"It was a great collective response. I am very happy for the team. We found ourselves again tonight."
Herve Renard’s side meanwhile are yet to break into double points this season and are rooted to the foot of Le Championnat’s table.
Six things we learned from PSG’s 5-0 trouncing of Sochaux.
The giant Swede put in what he admitted was a “poor performance” (h/t ESPN FC) last time out against Evian, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic made up for it here against Sochaux.
After providing a world-class pass for Thiago Silva’s opener, the talismanic striker played a key role in setting up Ezequiel Lavezzi for the second shortly after half-time.
Ibrahimovic then answered his and Edinson Cavani’s lingering critics; providing El Matador with a delicious pass for the Uruguayan to make it 3-0.
However, the 32 year old had not even gotten started as it turned out.
Ibrahimovic thumped home a late free-kick before tapping in an even-later Cavani pass to complete the rout at 5-0 and move on to 13 league goals for the season.
Should every follow-up from a so-called “poor performance” be this good, PSG fans surely won’t be panicking on the next rare occasion that Ibra misfires.
His resistance may have only lasted 14 minutes, but in that short time it was made evident that Sochaux have upgraded from Simon Pouplin in the form of the returning Pierrick Cros.
There was nothing he could do about first goal after Ibrahimovic exposed defence with a sensational chipped pass, but the French youth international made a number of other good saves after that.
However, he will want to forget the second half as PSG went on to stick four past him as the Sochaux defence disappeared.
In the normally close battle against relegation, a talented shot stopper can make a world of difference.
Ajaccio’s Guillermo Ochoa has proved that over the past couple of seasons and Cros could do the same for Les Lionceaux.
However, Herve Renard’s men are looking less and less capable of avoiding the drop, despite Cros’ best efforts.
After sparking speculation regarding his future following comments made to Le Parisien (h/t ESPN FC) earlier in the week, Laurent Blanc handed Ezequiel Lavezzi the chance to impress.
The Argentine produced a good performance, linking up well with Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic early on and he was unlucky to have a first-half penalty appeal turned down.
El Pocho was vibrant, willing to get involved and proved a point over what he can offer the side, justifying Blanc’s decision to start him.
The Argentine’s goal early in the second half was the icing on the cake and it was also his second league goal of the season.
However, Lavezzi must accept that without either scoring or providing more regularly, he will still only remain a squad player for PSG. This is a good start, but he needs to maintain this sort of form to truly answer his critics.
Herve Renard’s Sochaux side are hard working, but there was not nearly enough quality needed to win the game on the day, and survival looks unlikely without January investment.
There is plenty of physicality and athleticism within the team, but nowhere the necessary level of genuine talent.
Funds are not likely to be forthcoming without some sales first though, meaning that the team will be stripped of few remaining quality elements, such as Sebastien Corchia.
The young French full-back is one of Le Championnat’s most underrated talents and was a rare shining light in an otherwise average showing at Parc des Princes from Les Lionceaux.
PSG’s victory saw Blaise Matuidi once again make a significant contribution from the background.
Although not involved in the scoring or creating of the goals, the French international produced an all-action performance.
Matuidi’s bursting runs were a regular feature, causing the Sochaux defence plenty of problems.
It was a typical Matuidi showing, but one that again underlines why he is integral to this current PSG side despite his relatively early substitution.
Laurent Blanc and the PSG hierarchy have to tie him down to a new deal before January as the risk of him leaving for nothing next summer grows by the game.
Not just in this game, but in others too, and certainly exacerbated by this 5-0 pummelling, Sochaux have not shown enough overall quality.
Bottom of the table, not yet in double figures and in absolutely wretched form, Herve Renard’s side are in dire straits.
Saturday’s defeat leaves them a provisional seven points, but possible 10 away from the coach-less Montpellier Herault Sport Club come the end of play this weekend.
La Paillade are one place above the relegation zone and the normally tight bottom of the table battle has some considerable space between it this season, even at this early stage.