Freelance journalist specialising in French football, based in Paris. Writes Paris Saint-Germain blog for ESPN FC, Ligue 1 for beIN Sports USA, also contributor & podcast co-host for French Football Weekly. Commentator for Eurosport, Ligue 1 specialist for beIN Sport France, Belgian Jupiler Pro League specialist for Ma Chaîne Sport also PSG TV's English news on the club's official website.
Jon, I must say that I don't share the sentiment that PSG have made any progress in Europe. Truth be told, that mostly has to do with the fact I don't rate Chelsea as high as you or the media(French media included) does. While this Barca team is the best PSG have faced in the quarters, this year's lost was just too anticlimactic. In previous, PSG were not outmatched. They really just lost because they didn't have the killer instinct. This year, they just look completely inept. Even in the Chelsea tie, PSG should not have struggled as much as they did. They did show some grit in winning, but there were still some bad signs.
My first concern is Blanc's inability to change things around. With Verratti, Lucas, Ibra, Motta and Luiz(was supposed to be out) all missing, why not play a more robust lineup? PSG played that game with no conviction. It seems they were stuck in between attacking and defending. I would have been okay if they had parked the bus and play like Atletico or Chelsea.
Unfortunately, PSG have not learned the art of defending. What has disappointed me the most about PSG in all these big games is their defense. They're just incapable of grinding out 1-0 or 2-0 wins at the big stage. It's embarrassing that Neymar has scored 5 of his 6 CL goals against PSG. It's not a coincidence that this is against the right side of our defense. Laurent Blanc, or whoever is in charge of PSG next season has to fix the problem of a leaky defense in Europe. What's frustrating about this is the fact that they allowed Barca to score 3 goals in Paris even when the Blaugrana outfit wasn't trying. On a personal level, even if PSG win everything in France, I won't view it as a huge success.
Hey Jonathon, what do you know of Dimitri Kevin Cavare? What is his ceiling and can we expect a meteoric rise soon or no?
Hello Jonathan. It's a pleasure being your latest fan (#28) here and I am an avid reader of your material (plus regularly catching your segments on beIN). One thing that is sort of going unnoticed (in the standings) is the goal difference favoring Lyon. Having drawn 1-1 against PSG in both Ligue 1 matches, I'm assuming the GD will come into play if Lyon and PSG finish tied in points, but please clarify that if needed. Also, while we realize Pastore wasn't doing his magic today against the likes of Ivanovic or Azpilicueta, is there any doubt that Blanc must start JP in Motta's place at Stamford Bridge fully knowing PSG will need a goal (or most likely goals) to advance? IMO he can sub in Motta with half hour ago if PSG grab a lead (to close shop), but it will be almost criminal to bench Pastore and stick with Motta as a starter in that crucial match. Pastore not only masterminded the second goal beautifully today, his pass to Ibra (to set up Rabiot) for the first goal was precise as well.
Verratti to Madrid? Ancelotti wants him and... Florentino. Many midfielders, but ...
Verratti to Madrid?
I am just curious what your opinion is on Cavani. I personally don't think he's worth close to the amount of money they paid for him. I am saying that even though I know he's not necessarily playing in his preferred position. As a striker whose job is mainly to score goals, he is way too dependent on the ball being put in certain position to score. If I am being blunt, I am saying he scores too many tap ins. In other words, his movement far outweighs his finishing ability. Don't get me wrong as most strikers rely on movement to get into scoring position, but a couple of things make Cavani's case different. First, they paid a lot of money for him which means he has to be judged differently. Second, I don't see enough goals with him running in behind the defense or just him improvising e.g. dribbling past a player to create a chance for himself.
I am sure many teams would want Cavani, but he's just grossly overpaid for what he offers. I admire his work rate, but he didn't get paid to help defend. You might know this better than me, but wasn't he brought in with an eye towards being Zlatan's replacement? Based on what I have seen, he's definitely not capable of stepping in for Zlatan. I don't think PSG would go far if Edinson is the best player on the team. Maybe he's not being utilized correctly by PSG, but I must say he's been a disappointment in my eyes. I don't even judge him by the amount of goals he scores, because with PSG's resources, they will always manhandle most Ligue 1 teams. I am more concerned about the type of goals he scores. Not that I think Cavani is Zlatan, but Ibra has done things that shows he's clearly a special player. I just have never seen that from Cavani. Even someone like Pastore, he does thing that makes you see why they paid the fee they did for him. With Cavani, he just seems to be a good but not great player.
I thought that Blanc would have a resolution with the Cavani/Ibra situation or should I say the front three issue at PSG. Cavani clearly doesn't enjoy being played out of position but yet it seems that unless Ibra is injured, that will be the case. If there was any time to experiment with formation, it should have been at this moment. They can't do it in the CL as there are no more meaningless games in that competition and as long as Marseille doesn't take a fall, every game has to be played as if it was a title-deciding game.
Hi Jonathon! I have a few questions for you:
- How good do you think Paul-Georges Ntep's ceiling is?
- What young players do you know of who have a similar playing style to Paul Pogba?
- Is Javier Pastore now fulfilling he displayed at Palermo, or does he still need to do more?
- Has Serge Aurier dissapointed so far at PSG?
- Is AS Monaco completely on the decline after a season in the top two, and will the owners have any more spending sprees?
Thanks so much!
I've also been extremely impressed with Ricardo Carvalho's performances this season. He has even worked his way back to the national team set up after his bust-up with former coach, Paulo Bento. He's going to be 37 in May, so I highly doubt he will be able to maintain this form until the Euro 2016. Nevertheless, it certainly helps to have a player with such quality and experience at your disposal.
Thank you so much for the brilliant insight, Jonathan!
I just finished watching Lopes' performance against Marseille and he certainly does appear to be an outstanding shot-stopper. I have always considered Portugal's current starting goalkeeper, Rui Patricio, to be a huge liability. He is capable of moments of absolute brilliance (his recent man of the match performance vs Chelsea) but he is just too erratic and error prone for my liking. Hopefully Fernando Santos will give Anthony Lopes a chance to prove his worth since he surely can't be any worse than Patricio.
Fabio Coentrao and Malaga's Vitorino Antunes are currently injured, so Raphael Guerreiro is almost certain to start in Portugal's upcoming matches against Armenia and Argentina. He has been very impressive for the U-21's, so I've got high hopes for the kid!