Paris Saint-Germain kicked off their season in fine style on Saturday, defending their Trophee des Champions title in Beijing, China. Laurent Blanc’s French champions beat last season’s Coupe de France winners EA Guingamp 2-0, thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic double at the Workers Stadium, with PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saving a first-half Mustapha Yatabare penalty.
Edinson Cavani started on the substitutes’ bench for Les Parisiens and came on just after the hour—prompting a formation change for the capital club—but El Matador could not add to Ibrahimovic’s double.
The game petered out towards the end of the second half, with neither side able to find another goal.
4 - Laurent Blanc has won his 4th Trophée des Champions (2008, 2009 with Bordeaux - 2013, 2014 with PSG), more than any other manager. Boss.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 2, 2014
PSG coach Blanc—who has now won the Trophee des Champions a record four times as a coach—was satisfied with his players’ performances against Jocelyn Gourvennec’s well-organised and difficult-to-beat outfit.
"The conditions were very difficult for both teams," the 48-year-old told PSG.fr shortly after the match. "We have worked very well during these eight days in Asia. The start of the season will be very tough for us, like last season, but this evening, I'm very happy with how the players played."
"We are not yet 100 per cent fit, but the team's footballing philosophy remains the same and we played well tonight. The team is still motivated to win matches and silverware."
Here are some of the winners and losers from the Trophee des Champions clash.
The greatest winner of all on the day was, without doubt, PSG’s two-goal hero, Ibrahimovic. Wasting no time in getting started for the season—although a notoriously slow starter—the 32-year-old Swede had netted a double inside of 20 first-half minutes.
Zlatan’s opening goal was a superb finish from the edge of the area. His second was a penalty after the impressive Jean-Christophe Bahebeck was upended.
PSG’s super Swede has been in excellent form in his last few pre-season games—also grabbing three goals against Kitchee in the 6-2 win in Hong Kong—and his current rude health is an ominous sign for Ligue 1 defenders in the coming season.
Bahebeck was another winner on the day in Beijing. Although he did not score—the first time the 21-year-old has failed to find the net this pre-season—he did once again underline his claims to a squad role this campaign after spending the past two terms out on loan with both ESTAC Troyes and Valenciennes.
It was an impressive performance from the youngster, who has six goals and a handful of assists to his name from six starts this summer. Bahebeck could profit from the fact that Ezequiel Lavezzi has not yet returned to training following his extended summer break—thanks to FIFA World Cup duty—by featuring in next Friday’s Ligue 1 opener away at Stade de Reims.
PSG’s Sirigu was also a winner in the 2-0 win over Guingamp. The Italian goalkeeper made his third penalty save since joining Les Parisiens, denying Yatabare from the spot—although it was a rather tame effort—and keeping a clean sheet.
With Blanc set to be deprived of the services of his first-choice central-defensive pairing of captain Thiago Silva and David Luiz in Reims for next week’s Ligue 1 opener, it will be a welcome boost for the Frenchman to see his No. 30 in such good early season form.
Considering the disappointing pre-season showings from the Marquinhos-Zoumana Camara partnership—which will almost certainly start the Reims encounter—the Italian might be kept busy at Stade Auguste Delaune.
That brings us to the losers from Saturday’s Trophee des Champions clash, and the player who lost most on the day was Guingamp’s Yatabare.
Top scorer for the Breton side last season with 11 goals, the 28-year-old saw his first-half penalty saved by Sirigu. The Malian international also missed a string of chances to get his team back into the contest.
50% - Mustapha Yatabaré has missed 3 of the 6 penalties he has taken in Ligue 1 + Trophée des Champions since 2013/14. Inaccurate.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) August 2, 2014
Yatabare is Guingamp’s main threat going forward, but he has made a habit out of missing from the spot. His failed effort in Beijing was his third miss in six attempts over the past year.
Another Guingamp player who suffered in the 2-0 defeat to PSG was debutant Lars Jacobsen. The 34-year-old summer arrival from FC Copenhagen was at fault for the French champions’ second goal as he fouled Bahebeck to hand Ibrahimovic the chance to double his tally from the spot.
Jacobsen’s fellow Scandinavian duly obliged, and the Danish international endured a largely forgettable debut thanks to a rusty showing. Guingamp coach Gourvennec will be hoping for better from the experienced defender as the season progresses.
Finally, PSG’s Marquinhos was another loser on the day, even if he was on the winning side.
The Brazilian has been consistently linked with a move to Barcelona this summer, the latest example being Amanda Salles’ report for Marca, claiming that Les Parisiens rejected a €43million offer for the talented 20-year-old earlier this week.
Marquinhos has featured in every game so far this pre-season for PSG and clearly figures in coach Blanc’s plans. However, he has also made a number of mistakes that expose the experience he is lacking in order to usurp his compatriots Silva and Luiz, who will start the season as the clear first-choice central-defensive pairing.
It was Marquinhos’ foul on Claudio Beauvue that handed Yatabare the chance to pull Guingamp level from the spot—even though it was debatable whether or not the contact actually came inside or outside the area. The youngster has also been at fault for a number of sloppy goals conceded by PSG in earlier games this pre-season.
Perhaps his rawness was largely hidden last season because he was playing alongside Silva and the now departed Alex most of the time. However, alongside the ageing Camara, it is clear that Marquinhos still has plenty of developing to do.
Overall, though, it was a satisfying 2-0 victory for PSG, and one that bodes well for the coming season as they now prepare for next Friday’s trip to face Reims. As for Guingamp, they have until next Saturday to get it right before hosting AS Saint-Etienne in their opening fixture.
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