Toulouse vs. Paris Saint-Germain: 6 Things We Learned
Paris Saint-Germain restored their five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 thanks to an eventual 4-2 win over a determined Toulouse side at the Stade Municipal on Sunday.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will grab the headlines with a hat trick that moves him to 22 goals for the season, but in truth, PSG were fortunate to win by such a comfortable score line. Ezequiel Lavezzi netted the other goal for Laurent Blanc’s side, while Wissam Ben Yedder bagged a double for the hosts.
However, the champions can feel lucky that they did not finish the match with 10 men after Thiago Motta inexplicably avoided a red card and Toulouse missed some important chances. None were clearer than Martin Braithwaite’s morale-busting miss from literally underneath Salvatore Sirigu’s crossbar.
4 - Paris SG have scored four goals in an away game in Ligue 1 for the first time since February 2013 against Toulouse, (4-0). Ritual.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 23, 2014
Blanc was relieved that his side reestablished their five-point lead at the top of Le Championnat, as he revealed shortly after the final whistle.
"Playing so soon after the Champions League was not conducive to good football," he said. "My players were effective though, scoring four goals despite not having many chances."
"Scoring goals is the hardest thing in football. We have scored eight in two games, but we should remember that we allowed Toulouse to score twice in this game. That could have cost us dearly."
Le President will also have been slightly concerned at how fatigued his players looked with Olympique de Marseille looming on the horizon, perhaps explaining the two-day rest he is now giving the team.
Here are six things we learned from PSG’s 4-2 win over Toulouse.
PSG Feeling the Pressure?
PSG coach Laurent Blanc opted to name an unchanged starting XI from the team that ripped Bayer Leverkusen apart in Germany in midweek, no doubt a sign that the French champions are taking the title challenge from AS Monaco seriously.
Les Monegasques enjoyed a dramatic, late 3-2 win over Stade de Reims in the principality on Friday and proceeded to celebrate it as if they had finished the season at the top of Ligue 1.
The wild post-match celebrations from Claudio Ranieri’s side revealed that ASM still consider this title race to be alive. PSG obviously recognised this too and showed signs against Toulouse, despite their 4-2 win, that the pressure being applied by Monaco is agitating them.
Toulouse Need to Take Their Chances
Not only against PSG, but in all of Toulouse’s remaining games this season, they must finish better. Alain Casanova’s men created plenty of chances against a weary Parisian side, but still failed to take some of their key opportunities.
Wissam Ben Yedder took both of his goals well, particularly the first, but Martin Braithwaite’s miss from practically on the goal line was unforgivable.
Mid-table so far this season, taking more of their chances against opponents of a lower calibre than PSG could be the difference between securing European football or not for Toulouse.
PSG Riding Their Luck?
The match finished 2-1 and maintains PSG’s five-point lead over second-placed Monaco. However, Laurent Blanc’s side rode their luck on a number of occasions.
Martin Braithwaite was guilty of a soul-destroying miss at one end before the Parisians profited from a clumsy Uros Spajic challenge at the other that gifted them an ill-deserved lead through Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty.
24 - Zlatan Ibrahimovic has converted each of his last 24 penalties in the league (Serie A + Ligue 1). Expert.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 23, 2014
In the second half, Thiago Motta should have been sent off for two bookable offences when he was guilty of a high foot, but was incredibly allowed to stay on the pitch after appearing to be injured from the challenge.
The Italian international did play a hand in Toulouse’s second goal, playing Wissam Ben Yedder onside by touching the ball even though he was clearly off, so perhaps justice was served to some degree.
However, the hosts arguably deserved better from the game and had the chances to at least draw, failing to punish PSG’s blase approach.
Toulouse Capable of Raising Their Game
Toulouse are a difficult team to predict in Ligue 1. Massively inconsistent, the best that the club can hope for at present is mid-table when they are the only team except for Lille to have not scored more than 30 goals in the top half of the table.
The problem is they have conceded 36, which is only better than the total allowed by SC Bastia in the top 10, who are one position better off in ninth.
In order to improve results, Alain Casanova will need his side to recall the intensity with which they played for the best part of 90 minutes against PSG, running the champions close.
A draw would not have flattered TFC, and if they can develop an appetite for more of their top-flight encounters—most relatively big matches considering Le Tefece’s size and stature—then they will be able to garner a greater number of points.
The Cabaye Connection
Despite starting on the bench, PSG’s January arrival, Yohan Cabaye, has quickly proven that he can contribute towards the champions’ push to defend their Ligue 1 title.
Scorer of the Parisians’ fourth goal away at Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, the French international made an immediate impact this time by providing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s second goal of the game.
With only his second touch after replacing Marco Verratti, Cabaye’s pinpoint cross from a free-kick found the head of Ibrahimovic, who nodded home his 21st goal of the season. The Swede went on to make that 22 before the end of the game, but Cabaye was not involved that time.
However, the pair did combine again minutes after Ibrahimovic’s second goal in exactly the same circumstances. The head of the PSG talisman met another delicious Cabaye delivery, only this time Zacharie Boucher managed to save it.
The link-up between the two from set plays is promising and demonstrates an instant understanding, despite the fact that the Independent (h/t L'Equipe) reported that Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were skeptical about Cabaye’s arrival.
Performances like these will go a long way towards proving the Swede’s doubts wrong.
Chantome in His Element with Toulouse
Clement Chantome is on loan at Toulouse from PSG this season in a similar arrangement to the one that saw Adrien Rabiot spend the second half of last season at the Stade Municipal.
Judging by his performance against his parent club, regular first-team football is benefiting the French international, who was impressive for the hosts despite their defeat.
While there might be little chance of Chantome getting back into the reckoning at PSG, the 26-year-old has proven that he can be a starting player elsewhere.
Arguably, he could even do better than Toulouse and will likely have no shortage of takers if he decides to leave the Parc des Princes this summer.