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.
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.
6 - This is only the 6th time that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has failed to score or deliver an assist in a Ligue 1 game this season. Mute.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) January 25, 2014
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.
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.
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.