Ibrahimovic and Cavani Watch: Zlatan Magic Enough for PSG in Lorient

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Ibrahimovic and Cavani Watch: Zlatan Magic Enough for PSG in Lorient
David Vincent/Associated Press

With title rivals AS Monaco not in action until Sunday night, Paris Saint-Germain took the opportunity to move a provisional 11 points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table.

A 1-0 win was enough away at FC Lorient on Friday although the French champions were far from at their best. 

Michel Euler/Associated Press

Laurent Blanc’s men secured the win through Thiago Motta’s third league goal of the season, although Zlatan Ibrahimovic played no small role in the build-up. Edinson Cavani, PSG’s other star man, was also involved from the start. 

Blanc deployed two of Le Championnat’s three biggest star talents in an increasingly familiar three-man attacking unit, along with Ezequiel Lavezzi but for the most part it was ineffectual.

Hampered somewhat by the synthetic pitch at the Stade du Moustoir, the trio failed to have the desired impact. However, Ibrahimovic’s contribution was enough to be a match-winning one yet again.

Here is a closer look at the Swede and Cavani’s individual performances.

David Vincent/Associated Press

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Although not on the scoresheet for once, after his double secured three important points against AS Saint-Etienne last week, Ibrahimovic still found a way to influence a difficult game for the side from the French capital.

PSG were disjointed in Brittany, looking as if they had been distracted by the news from earlier in the day that they had drawn English Premier League side Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

David Vincent/Associated Press

After a sluggish start to the match though, Ibrahimovic made sure that he could still make the telling difference for the Parisians, despite it quickly becoming obvious that the league leaders would not enjoy an abundance of chances against Les Merlus.

Collecting the ball on the halfway line after another one of his now trademark back-heel flicks, the talismanic striker brought the ball forward, playing delightful one-touch passes with Blaise Matuidi before squaring for strike partner Cavani. 

The Uruguayan then shot with his left foot, which was blocked, only for a brilliant piece of Ibrahimovic improvisation to lead to a goalmouth scramble that enabled Motta to eventually force the ball over the line. 

Aside from that, the 32-year-old was restricted largely to shots from long range. A few of those efforts did test host goalkeeper Fabien Audard, but the super Swede was unable notch his 26th Ligue 1 goal of the season.

However, he will be satisfied with his contribution to a hard-fought win for the defending champions.

 

Rating: 3/5—PSG did not get out of second gear, but they never really had to against a limited Lorient side. Ibrahimovic was there when called upon to provide a moment of inspiration, as he so often has this season.

David Vincent/Associated Press

 

Edinson Cavani

Cavani’s struggle for form since the start of 2014 continues after the Uruguayan international endured another frustrating evening at the Stade du Moustoir.

El Matador can be satisfied with his debut season in France so far, but with just three goals from his last 10 games in all competitions since the turn of the year, something is clearly amiss. 

Against Lorient, Cavani was visibly struggling with the playing surface as were a number of his teammates, contributing towards his poor control in some areas. When he found himself in space to shoot first time or play a pass or cross the ball in, he had to take more touches than he would normally.

David Vincent/Associated Press

His shyness in front of goal is more noticeable at the moment too, squaring the ball for teammates when he could and should perhaps go for goal himself instead.

That unselfish attitude did create one brilliant chance for Christophe Jallet late in the second half, but Audard saved the Frenchman’s goal-bound effort on the line. It was also Cavani’s blocked shot that contributed towards Motta’s solitary strike. 

His defensive contribution and commitment to the collective team effort remains beyond reproach though.

Otherwise, the South American headed a good chance into the ground and over the bar in the first half. Perhaps he should have done better, although playing on Lorient’s fake pitch is never easy.

 

Rating: 2/5—Not Cavani’s best game for PSG, but it was nobody’s finest hour. Blanc will be happy to have gotten the trip to the Moustoir out of the way with relative ease, but he will be slightly concerned by El Matador’s continued struggle for confidence.

Michel Euler/Associated Press

 

Looking Ahead

Next up for Ibrahimovic, Cavani and PSG is a trip to face OGC Nice next Friday at the Allianz Riviera before the first of a Champions League quarter-final double-header against English Premier League side Chelsea.

Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick against Les Aiglons earlier this season, while he also bagged one in each of their meetings last season. With five to his name against Claude Puel’s men, it is safe to say that they are one of his favoured opponents in Ligue 1.

Cavani is yet to score against the side from the Cote d’Azur, but he was on the end of some injustice when the two met earlier in the season in a 3-1 win for PSG.

The pair will hope to combine to prolific effect next week as they seek to hit top form in time for the visit of Chelsea to the Parc des Princes the following week.

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