Ligue 1: Week 22, Ibrahimovic and Cavani Watch, PSG Star Duo Struggle to Shine

Jonathan JohnsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2014

Paris Saint Germain's Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, right, reacts after missing a chance to score, while his teammeate Swedish Zlatan Ibrahimovic stands next to him during a French League One soccer match Paris Saint-Germain against AC Ajaccio Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, in Paris. The match ended with a 1-1 draw. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

Following AS Monaco star Radamel Falcao’s cruel injury blow earlier in the week, Paris Saint-Germain duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani are the players remaining from Ligue 1’s star triumvirate.

With El Tigre now likely to be out for the remainder of the season, the PSG pair are two of Le Championnat’s most recognisable faces and will now battle each other to see who finishes top of the goalscorer standings.

It was not the best of weekends for either of the capital club’s star strikers though, despite their recent prolific form.

Laurent Blanc’s side drew 1-1 away at EA Guingamp on Saturday but it was Brazilian defender Alex who spared the champions’ blushes against the newly promoted side and not Ibrahimovic or Cavani.

PSG still temporarily stretched their lead at the top of the table to six points ahead of Monaco’s clash with Olympique de Marseille later on Sunday, but Les Monegasques can whittle that lead down to just three with a win.

Let’s take a closer look at Ibrahimovic and Cavani’s performances against Guingamp.

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - JULY 27:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of PSG runs with the ball during the pre season friendly match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain at Ullevi on July 27, 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images


Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It has been a disappointing week for Ibrahimovic after PSG’s Coupe de France defeat to Montpellier HSC in midweek.

The Swede started that game on the bench, but he was introduced midway through the second half to little effect.

Despite that limited rest though, the 32-year-old still looked sluggish against Guingamp and struggled to help his side create any real chances in Brittany.

He was handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Brazilian skipper Thiago Silva but it was not enough to bring his creativity or prolific finishing to the fore.

PSG created precious few openings at the Stade du Roudourou, certainly no clear-cut ones, and Ibrahimovic cut a frustrated figure at times.

The pitch did neither side any favours, but it is a poor excuse when PSG and Ibrahimovic were second best to their hosts on the day.

Guingamp’s physicality appeared to surprise the mercurial striker, while the hosts’ crowding defensive tactics sufficiently muzzled the talisman’s threat.

Rating: 1/5

Armando Franca/Associated Press


Edinson Cavani

It has been a marginally better week for Ibrahimovic’s strike partner Cavani.

The Uruguayan scored once against Montpellier, but he also missed an easy chance in that game and was looking to bounce back with a strong showing against Guingamp.

That improved performance did not materialise though and Cavani was as frustrated as Ibrahimovic, struggling to impose himself on the game.

El Matador did contribute more in defence than the Swede but going forward the 26-year-old was forced to feed on scraps and to snatch at half chances.

One snapshot did lead to a potential handball shout but nothing was given.

The pair’s link-up play was lacking, but that was because their relationship as a front three with Javier Pastore was non-existent because of the Argentine’s struggles to get involved.

Both players improved slightly when Lucas Moura was introduced in the second half but neither could make a telling contribution.

Rating: 1.5/5

Yves Logghe/Associated Press


Looking Forward

Ibrahimovic and Cavani now have a chance to rest and recuperate ahead of next Friday’s clash with Girondins de Bordeaux.

Blanc needs his prolific pair to find the net with the same merciless attitude that they showed against FC Nantes last time they were in action at the Parc des Princes and to do that, some reflection is in order.

PSG need to spend some time working on their set pieces, in order to avoid conceding the same sort of sloppy goals that have been putting the team to the sword of late, but they also need to rediscover their clinical touch in front of goal.

That will only come after a period of reflection and to have almost a week without a game will do the whole team, not just Ibrahimovic and Cavani, the world of good.

Both have proven so far this season that they can play together, but they are not yet at the level where their understanding is almost unconscious.

They still need to work at it.