Lyon vs. Paris Saint-Germain: 6 Things We Learned

Jonathan Johnson@@Jon_LeGossipFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2014

Lyon vs. Paris Saint-Germain: 6 Things We Learned

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    Paris Saint-Germain slipped to only their second defeat of the season in Ligue 1 with Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade Gerland.

    Following their UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Chelsea earlier in the week, the French champions succumbed to a second consecutive defeat in all competitions. Jordan Ferri’s superb 31st-minute goal was enough for the hosts, but Remi Garde’s side should arguably have won by a greater margin.

    PSG coach Laurent Blanc’s position was under intense scrutiny before the match after an inept performance at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, but that pressure has increased a notch following this defeat.

    In terms of the capital club’s title position, it will realistically change little. The Parisians are still 10 points clear of second-placed AS Monaco, but will just have to wait that little bit longer to secure a second successive Ligue 1 crown. There are five matches left to the season.

    Blanc was disappointed by his side’s performance, particularly the lack of potency going forward, but he can have few complaints about the result. Lyon were the better side and performed admirably, despite a number of absentees in preparation for next week’s rematch in the Coupe de la Ligue final.

    "We thought we'd digested being knocked out of the Champions League but given our performance here that was not the case," Blanc revealed after the final whistle. "We need to do it quickly as we've got the final of the Coupe de la Ligue coming up."

    "My attackers weren't clinical enough in front of goal here. I don't think the system was at fault, we just didn't take our chances. I don't think our problem was physical and we need to refocus on the club's objectives."

    Here are six things we learned from OL’s 1-0 win.

Lyon Are to Be Respected

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    Against all the odds, Lyon secured an impressive 1-0 win against PSG to keep their European hopes alive on Sunday.

    They move to fifth in the table, three points clear of sixth-placed Olympique de Marseille and two behind fourth-placed AS Saint-Etienne, although still nine behind Lille OSC. Although that last Champions League for third place appears a stretch too far, qualification for the UEFA Europa League is not beyond them at this stage.

    Securing European football after the campaign Les Gones have had to endure is an achievement in itself.

    Despite a plethora of injuries, unavailability and runs of poor form, Remi Garde has taken OL to the upper reaches of Ligue 1 and kept them in the fight for Europe. With their squad and the obstacles they have faced, they have no right to be in the chase at this point.

    Only because of Garde’s canny management skills and an exemplary youth academy have Lyon managed to survive this season. They deserve the respect of Le Championnat and Europe after their run to the quarterfinals against the odds.

Blanc’s Head on the Chopping Block at PSG

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    Blanc has come in for plenty of criticism following PSG’s European exit at the hands of Chelsea earlier this week, but in many ways the performance against Lyon was more damaging.

    The French champions have looked so comfortable in Ligue 1 for the majority of the season, but now they are starting to wobble a little bit.

    Narrow and fortuitous 1-0 wins over FC Lorient and OGC Nice were papered over by a 3-0 wins over Stade de Reims last week, but it has become painfully clear this week that PSG lack a Plan B. There is also a growing feeling that Blanc has started to lose the Parc des Princes dressing room.

    When Plan A works, the Parisians are fine and invariably win their matches. But when faced with a side who have worked them out, it is often left to an individual bit of magic or a piece of misfortune from the opposing team to settle the game in their favour.

    That magic deserted PSG this week in Europe and against Lyon.

    Blanc must become more adventurous and flexible with his tactics in order to avoid further criticism and to prevent a generally impressive season becoming an average one. If that is allowed to happen, then he will almost certainly not be around to better it next season.

Jordan Ferri the Next Lyon Superstar?

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    This season has been a breakthrough campaign for another Lyon youngster, 22-year-old midfielder Jordan Ferri.

    It was the OL No. 12’s 31st-minute strike that secured three precious points for the hosts on Sunday, but it was not his first impressive performance this term. Ferri has stepped up in Les Gones’ time of need, coming to the fore with few other options available, and he has taken his chance to shine.

    3 - Only André-Pierre Gignac has scored more goals from outside the box (4) than Jordan Ferri (3) in Ligue 1 2013/14. Shooter.

    — OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 13, 2014

    He is now rightly considered an important first-team player for Garde’s men.

    Ferri is the latest off of the conveyor belt of talent from Lyon’s Centre Tola Vologe youth academy and now has three goals this season. With 25 appearances, expect to see a lot more from the versatile star next campaign.

Cabaye Firmly Behind PSG’s First-Choice Stars

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    Yohan Cabaye left Newcastle United for PSG when his stock was highest. Since arriving in the French capital in January, the 28-year-old midfielder has barely shown the sort of ability that commands a starting berth ahead of the likes of Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi or Marco Verratti.

    Handed the start ahead of the latter, having seen the diminutive Italian preferred in the 2-0 Champions League defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday, the French international failed to grasp the opportunity and was noticeably average in comparison with Motta and Matuidi.

    Nobody in the Parisian midfield really stood out on the night, with Blanc’s side lacking their usual authority in the middle of the park, but the former Lille man has had few other opportunities to impress.

    With PSG likely to spend big again this summer, was this move really the right one for Cabaye?

Lyon's Kids Are More Than All Right

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    Lyon’s kids came to rescue against PSG, with five of the OL starting XI having been raised by the club’s impressive youth academy. Ferri, the scorer of Les Gones’ solitary goal, was one of those five, but there were a further four on the substitutes bench.

    Few clubs in Europe can boast an academy as fruitful as Lyon’s. It's certainly an academy that brings through players who genuinely get to play an important first-team role, rather than just acting as token academy graduates.

    Although not a full self-raised starting XI, Lyon are about as close as you will get to a team that is able to make such an impressive claim in France at the moment. Their ability to nurture talent so well has also bailed them out at times, having suffered an unusually high number of injuries, suspensions and availability issues this season.

PSG Still Very Much Ibra-Dependent

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    Since he got injured in the first leg of their Champions League clash with Chelsea, PSG’s overreliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic has once again been made evident. It plagued Carlo Ancelotti’s side last campaign, and the capital outfit were very much taken back to those stymied and unimpressive performances.

    It is understandable that PSG miss the super Swede in the form that he has been in this season, but this is a problem from last season that should have been addressed.

    It hasn’t and the Parisians look distinctly average without the 32-year-old.

    With Ibrahimovic not getting any younger and strike partner Edinson Cavani already disgruntled at having to play second fiddle to the talismanic Scandinavian, the time for Zlatan’s shift in squad status could be closer than we think. Especially if his current injury keeps him out for the remainder of the season.