Paris Saint-Germain suffered their first defeat in three pre-season friendly matches on Friday, going down 4-2 to German Bundesliga 2 team RasenBallsport Leipzig.
Despite leading 2-1 at half-time, the French champions contrived to ship three second-half goals at Red Bull Arena in East Germany and have now conceded seven in their past two warm-up games.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined up with his PSG teammates after an extended summer break but was put in the shade on the second anniversary of his move to the French capital by promising youth academy product Hervin Ongenda.
The 19-year-old is a homegrown prodigy, having impressed at youth levels before being added to the first team at the start of last season.
Although he did not feature much during the previous campaign, the signs are that he will make a bigger impression under coach Laurent Blanc’s guidance this time around.
Ibrahimovic was the main attraction in Leipzig, but it was thanks to Ongenda that PSG went into half-time up 2-1.
The youngster tapped home from close range after being teed up nicely by fellow academy graduate Clement Chantome. He then turned provider with a tantalising cross that was headed home by another PSG gem, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck.
Ibrahimovic had the chance to put Les Parisiens further in front—supplied by another piece of unselfish play from Chantome—but the Swedish superstar’s tame effort was blocked by Leipzig goalkeeper Fabio Coltorti.
In all, it was a rather nondescript 45 minutes from the PSG No. 10. The 32-year-old chose to praise the French champions' opponents after the game when speaking to PSG.fr.
"I felt good in this friendly. It was important for me, to keep working on my fitness because I had a long holiday," he said. "I have to keep working. I felt good out there, it's a great stadium, a great atmosphere and we were against a very good team."
For Ongenda, though, that was his second goal in three pre-season appearances and by far his most impressive showing yet.
Last term was frustrating for the teenager because, despite proving at this time last year that he can contribute at senior level, he was largely overlooked domestically and in Europe.
Le Parisien: PSG have decided to keep Hervin Ongenda at the club despite his wishes to leave on loan, they claim. #PSG— Get French Football (@GFN_France) January 21, 2014
A loan move was mooted in January, per Get French Football's tweet, but came to nothing. According to Le Parisien (h/t French Football Weekly's tweet), the same was suggested in late May.
Le Parisien: Hervin Ongenda set for loan to Nice, Guingamp or Bastia. Could link up with Claude Makelele in Corsica. No option to buy. #PSG— FFW (@FrenchFtWeekly) May 27, 2014
However, it appears that PSG have no intention of loaning Ongenda out, and the No. 35 could be integrated into the first team on a more regular basis this campaign after getting to know the ropes last term.
On the evidence of the Leipzig game, it will give Blanc some valuable variety and a rawness that will benefit the Ligue 1 giants both domestically and on the continent.
Because of that unrefined talent, Ongenda is an unpredictable player and could be extremely valuable to bring off the bench when the game is tight and needs an injection of pace or a greater direct threat.
Not only does the PSG youngster possess pace and physicality—despite his relatively small size—he is has the potential to be clinical in front of goal too.
Admittedly, Ongenda did not show his sharpest eye against Leipzig, but his first-half performance was enough to suggest that he is capable of remaining in the capital this season and playing a more important role than last term.
While he will not act as a replacement for Ibrahimovic, he is a different type of player than the Swede, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Meanwhile, a reinvigorated Javier Pastore—also looking sharp in Germany—gives Blanc more options than he had last year without needing to delve into the transfer market.
Overall, it was a disappointing display from PSG against Leipzig. However, it is only a pre-season friendly and the result is hardly cause for concern.
Les Parisiens’ vulnerable defensive partnership of Marquinhos and Zoumana Camara might have Blanc a little worried after seeing his side leak seven goals in two games. Up top, however, Ongenda has provided Le President with some early reassurance.
A few goals in PSG’s next few friendly clashes could see the teenage sensation handed a few early-season chances in Ligue 1.
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