AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Stade Louis II in Ligue 1 on Sunday. The result keeps the defending champions five points ahead of their newly promoted title rivals, but their second tie this season proves that Les Monegasques can match PSG.
Laurent Blanc’s men led for over an hour thanks to Javier Pastore’s close-range header inside of 10 minutes, but captain Thiago Silva was unlucky to turn Fabinho’s inviting cross into his own net with 16 remaining.
Le President was satisfied with the result when he spoke to PSG.fr (translated from French as a bilingual) after the match, but the Frenchman also recognised the missed opportunity:
We controlled the first half well and we scored a goal. But in the second half, it was more complicated.
We conceded an unfortunate goal and Monaco had some chances. The two teams played to win the game, but in the end it was a deserved draw.
Both teams are enjoying very good seasons and are far ahead of the other competitors. We hope to continue at this speed.
In an immediate sense, the result does keep Le Championnat’s title race alive.
Not only are PSG still within ASM’s sights, but there are enough games left to garner a sufficient amount of points to theoretically overtake them.
1207 - Javier Pastore hadn't scored in Ligue 1 for 1207 minutes (more than 20 hours). Hurrah.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 9, 2014
However, Monaco will have been hoping for better, and Claudio Ranieri will be disappointed to have seen his side waste so many good opportunities. The principality outfit remain five points behind the side from the capital, and that is still a significant margin.
Considering the number of chances missed by the hosts’ profligate strikers on Sunday, it was ultimately a chance that the Italian and his players failed to take.
With just 14 games left in the campaign, overhauling PSG in the sort of form they have been in of late will still prove a very tough task for this developing Monaco side.
But they have proved to the champions that they can compete.
That in itself will worry PSG, and the Parisians know that they cannot afford to slip up between now and the end of the season as they chase a second consecutive title. For Monaco, though, they have spurned their best chance to claw some ground back on their new rivals and now need them to make a mistake.
ASM are a work in progress; they are far from the finished article, while PSG are now approaching the final stages of perfecting the project that they have been cultivating since 2011.
That Monaco can even push Blanc’s side this far already is impressive. Many expected Les Monegasques to struggle to mount a serious title challenge this term, despite the arrivals of the likes of Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez last summer.
PSG themselves went through significant teething problems in their first two season under the ownership of Qatar Sports Investments and only under Blanc’s guidance have started to resemble a genuine team.
Ranieri’s players do not resemble the same collection of talented individuals with little cohesion the Parisians were so often accused of in the past. In that respect, Monaco’s project is way ahead of schedule.
Overall, the 1-1 draw with PSG keeps the principality outfit in the title race a little longer. But their chances of not only hauling in their title rivals, but also then overtaking them to establish a comfortable lead, are still slim.
Admittedly the capital club have European and domestic commitments that will pose them challenges of priority where the league is concerned. However, generally speaking, Blanc has the strength in depth available to him to cope with competing on three separate fronts until the end of the season.
Monaco should already be thinking toward next term, though, once they have secured UEFA Champions League qualification, and how they will be able to build on this impressive return to the French top flight.
4 - Paris SG's four league game against the Top 4 this season have all been drawn. Parity.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 9, 2014
For Blanc and PSG, though, it was mission accomplished, having prevented their closest rivals from closing the gap to less than three points. The draw does not relieve that much pressure, but it ensures that the team are not just handing back the advantage to Monaco.
This result, from a neutral standpoint, keeps Ligue 1 interesting for now with no clear leader heading into the final third of the season.