Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-0 win over Girondins de Bordeaux on Friday moved the French champions six points clear at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of next week’s crunch title clash with second-place AS Monaco.
Yohan Cabaye’s debut was the story of the evening in the French capital, but it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alex who secured the three points for Laurent Blanc against his former side, per the match report at Ligue1.com.
The man who led Les Girondins to the 2009 Championnat title has now led the capital club to four victories over his former employers this season.
"A home victory was required following our defeat against Montpellier last time out," Blanc told PSG.fr after the match (in French and translated as a bilingual).
"Bordeaux came with a defensive game plan. We had to be patient. In second half, their team began to tire and we created some chances."
"This reassures us over our form. There are some important targets to meet in February and we must continue to improve."
Blanc will also be pleased that his players were able to keep a clean sheet while bouncing back from last week’s disappointing 1-1 draw at EA Guingamp.
Despite a relatively slow start, Lucas Moura was impressive on the night for PSG, providing two assists and playing a crucial role for the hosts.
Here are six things we learned from PSG’s 2-0 win over Bordeaux.
Kept on the bench during the first half against Girondins de Bordeaux, Yohan Cabaye had to wait until the 68th minute to make his PSG debut.
Despite only being handed a cameo appearance, the French international made a decent start to life in the French capital.
978 - Yohan Cabaye's last Ligue 1 game before tonight was 978 days ago (Lille 3-2 Rennes, 29 May 2011). Back.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) January 31, 2014
After dragging a long shot wide, the 28-year-old hit the post with a header late on in the second half in the build-up to Alex’s majestic second goal of the night for PSG.
It was an encouraging 22 minutes for Cabaye, who did not look out of place in the star-studded side.
He may well find himself in the starting XI in place of Javier Pastore in Tuesday’s Coupe de la Ligue semi-final clash away at FC Nantes.
Based on their performance against PSG on Friday, Girondins de Bordeaux are evidently taking a leaf out of the books of Olympique de Marseille and Lille OSC as they come into the final third of the season.
Both sides have found success in Ligue 1 over the past two terms by boasting tight defences and winning games by small margins.
Bordeaux appear to be trying to replicate that formula.
Defensively, it was an excellent performance, and there was a hint of offside about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s opening goal.
11 - Check out the average position of Bordeaux's XI in the first-half. Deep. pic.twitter.com/tO16VjZj5n— OptaJean (@OptaJean) January 31, 2014
However, without Cheick Diabate, this system appears doomed to failure.
Guillaume Hoarau is an excellent target man, but not prolific by any stretch of the imagination. Both Marseille and Lille have more prolific options up top, even if numerically they are just as limited.
Alex’s surprisingly classy second for PSG compounded Bordeaux’s frustrating evening as fatigue set in.
The decision to start Yohan Cabaye on the bench against Girondins de Bordeaux offered Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore the chance to react to PSG’s acquisition of Cabaye.
Although Pastore was influential in the first half, Moura won the comparison between the two over 90 minutes.
The Brazilian provided his seventh and eighth league assists this season, having already scored three goals.
8 - Lucas Moura has delivered 8 assists this season, joint-most prolific Brazilian in Europe's Top 4 leagues + L1 alongside Neymar. Samba.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) January 31, 2014
Pastore is still searching for his first contribution of either sort after 16 fruitless appearances.
The Argentine may have been more impressive than Lucas in parts, but the Selecao star made two telling contributions overall.
In order to keep a place in the PSG starting XI at present, attacking players must be either scoring goals or producing them.
That goes for Ezequiel Lavezzi and Jeremy Menez, as well as Moura and Pastore.
Lucas is now Europe’s joint-most prolific Brazilian provider along with Neymar.
With no obvious replacement arriving, it appears as if Francis Gillot is continuing to see the club’s best assets sold off while not being allowed to reinvest any of the proceeds.
Many of the club’s fans thought that the fire sale on talent at the Stade Chaban-Delmas had finished, but this transfer has proved otherwise.
If this exodus of talent continues, Bordeaux’s recent demise will further and a relegation battle that had looked a distinct possibility earlier on this season will become so once again.
Les Girondins looked solid and well-organised defensively for the most part against PSG, but were undone by the fatigue accumulated over 90 minutes.
With no creative element in the side, there are no major threats going forward and service for the strikers is limited.
Although he had new signing Yohan Cabaye available to him for the match, coach Laurent Blanc elected to use the occasion to challenge enigmatic playmaker Javier Pastore to put in an impressive performance.
The Argentine might not have been at the same outstanding level that he was in the pair’s Coupe de la Ligue encounter recently, which PSG won 3-1 in Bordeaux, but "El Flaco" was still the hosts’ best player for over half the match.
0 - the number of goals and assists by Javier Pastore in 15 league games this season. Slight.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) January 31, 2014
Occupying more attacking positions than usual at times, his passes had illuminated what was otherwise a dull first half.
However, he was quieter in the second and made way for Cabaye after 68 minutes, still chasing a first league goal or assist after 16 appearances (the Opta statistic was provided pre-match).
Lucas Moura on the other hand, provided two assists and has already scored three league goals.
Unfortunately for Girondins de Bordeaux, former coach and now PSG tactician Laurent Blanc seems to have their number.
The former France national team coach has now engineered four wins from the two sides’ four meetings this season.
Les Girondins can’t be blamed for not competing with PSG’s impressive array of star talent that is afforded to them by their wealthy and ambitious owners, but they will be frustrated to see Blanc foiling them at every attempt.
One a more positive note, it was excellent to see the PSG crowd give former player Guillaume Hoarau the warmest of welcomes back to the Parc des Princes when he came on as a second half substitute for Bordeaux.