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

Jonathan JohnsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2014

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

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    Paris Saint-Germain were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by EA Guingamp at the Stade du Roudourou on Saturday.

    The result sees Laurent Blanc’s side fail to open up a provisional eight-point lead over title rivals AS Monaco at the top of Ligue 1, instead having to settle for six. 

    It could have been worse though; PSG fell behind to Mustapha Yatabare’s 84th minute opener, only for Alex to spare their blushes three minutes later (match report via ligue1.com). 

    Although it finished 1-1 and it is two points dropped by the champions, the result was a positive one based on the balance of play and PSG’s disappointing showing in Brittany.

    PSG coach Laurent Blanc was disappointed after the final whistle: "My overriding feeling is that we didn't get what we came here for: the three points," he told PSG TV (in English).

    "I think the state of the pitch was a disadvantage because it really doesn't suit our style of play. But we still tried to play good football."

    "In the 83rd minute, we conceded another goal from a set piece. At the moment, the only chances our rivals are getting are from set pieces. We have to work on that."

    "But I am still happy that we came back and equalised and we didn't give up." 

    Here are six things we learned from PSG’s surprise 1-1 draw with EA Guingamp.

Are Teams Getting Wise to PSG?

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    Following PSG’s 2-1 home defeat against Montpellier HSC in the Coupe de France in midweek, and the laboured nature of the game against EA Guingamp, it appears that teams are getting wise to what they need to do in order to frustrate the champions. 

    Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side coped well, despite PSG’s domination of possession, forcing the side from the capital to try their luck from range and to rely on a late set piece for a fortunate equaliser from defender Alex. 

    PSG created few clear-cut chances over both halves, and Guingamp arguably deserved more than a point on the balance of play.

    When the hosts got their chances, they made the most of them, testing Salvatore Sirigu far more often than PSG tested Guy Roland Ndy Assembe.

PSG's Lack of Aerial Ability Concerning for Blanc?

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    PSG’s recent vulnerability from set pieces, underlined by Mustapha Yatabare's header from a corner late in the second half, will be of great concern to coach Laurent Blanc. 

    Both of Montpellier’s goals on Wednesday came from set pieces, and EA Guingamp's only goal on Saturday came from a corner.

    That makes it three consecutive goals conceded from set plays.

    It is surprising that a team of Blanc's, a coach famed for his ability to drill sides so well at both ends of the pitch in those situations, look so susceptible all of a sudden.

    Thiago Silva’s absence with a minor injury did not help, but the PSG defence is coping worse than it did last year.

    They have conceded 15 times in Ligue 1 this season, compared to just 12 this time last campaign, and teams have started to target this weakness in all competitions.

Guingamp Earning Their Place in Ligue 1

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    At the start of the season, few though it possible that EA Guingamp would stay in Ligue 1 past this season.

    They might still succumb to eventual relegation, despite a brave showing so far in Le Championnat.

    However, there is no doubt that Jocelyn Gourvennec's charismatic side have won fans over with their honest style of play this campaign.

    Guingamp were more than good value for their eventual point from the 1-1 draw at Stade du Roudourou and also pushed PSG hard for their eventual 2-0 win at the Parc des Princes earlier in the season.

    The performance, more than the result, underlines why the Breton side deserve their place in France's top flight.

PSG Squad Depth Issues

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    There is no hiding that, following the injury to Thiago Silva as well as Adrien Rabiot’s knee problems, PSG lack the adequate strength in depth in both central defence and midfield. 

    Rabiot’s absence has prevented Blanc from being able to rotate his squad in midfield, particularly givcing rest to the fragile Thiago Motta, while Silva’s injury exposed the lack of options at Blanc’s disposal in defence.

    Marquinhos, although a central defender by trade, is also now expected to cover at right-back after the injury to Christophe Jallet that has forced the Frenchman to have surgery. 

    With the transfer window still open, PSG need to dip into it at least twice in order to alleviate the strain on a team that have fortunately stayed clear of injury so far this season.

    Marco Verratti’s seventh yellow card of the Ligue 1 campign, despite already being suspended for next week’s clash with Girondins de Bordeaux anyway, will further test that lack of depth.

Luck Not on Guingamp’s Side

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    Despite all of PSG’s domination of possession at the Stade du Roudourou, there was little doubt at the end of the game that EA Guingamp were good value for at least a point.

    Further to that, they should have actually had a penalty late in the first half when Marquinhos manhandled Mustapha Yatabare moments after the hosts had hit the crossbar. 

    PSG were lucky that the penalty was not given and, considering how the second half of the game played out, would almost certainly have lost had it been awarded.

    Yatabare got his deserved goal late in the second half, but he saw it cancelled out almost immediately by an even later Alex header at the other end.

Moura on the Outside Looking in at PSG

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    With Ezequiel Lavezzi absent, it was the perfect chance for Lucas Moura or Jeremy Menez to stake their claims for the position on the left of the front three on a regular basis.

    However, coach Laurent Blanc elected to go with Javier Pastore in that role instead of either Moura or Menez. 

    The Argentine does not naturally play wide, instead preferring to play in the middle as a No. 10.

    El Flaco’s playmaking tendencies are stifled when played out wide, a regular occurrence last season, and PSG subsequently suffered from a lack of direct threat against EA Guingamp. 

    Although Pastore tucked in behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani at times, the 24-year-old struggled to continue his recent impressive form.

    There is no doubt though that, following his recent upturn in form, he still ranks higher in coach Blanc's pecking order than Moura.

    The Brazilian international now faces a difficult task to get back into the reckoning for the Selecao ahead of the World Cup this summer.