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By: timbersfan , 8:42 AM GMT on April 04, 2014
Three Things: PSG vs. Chelsea
By Julien Laurens | April 2, 2014 5:29:16 PM PDT
Reaction to PSG's 3-1 win vs. Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal.
1. Pastore is not finished
Football, eh! On one hand are Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, with 65 goals between them this season. On the other is Javier Pastore, with one (yes one, un, uno) at Monaco back in February! Guess who got a massive goal in a Champions League quarterfinal first leg, against Chelsea, in added time? Indeed.
Pastore was the marquee signing of PSG's new Qatari owners two years ago, when he cost 42 million euros. He was 22 at the time, certainly a talent but totally unproven. He did lose his way a bit and struggled at times for form and confidence, but the talent was always there. It’s just that unlike usual world-class players who show it week in, week out, Pastore does so only on special occasions.
Such as at the Parc des Princes vs. Lyon in his first season, at the Camp Nou last season to almost put PSG through against Barcelona, at Monaco in a huge Ligue 1 clash a month ago and on Wednesday.
And what a way to score, too, tearing apart the Chelsea defence with some magical skills and finishing with a shot from his (wrong) left foot. Laurent Blanc often says that, at training, Pastore does things that even Zinedine Zidane could not do and there was a sense of that tonight.
It was a night to rise from a slumber and Pastore reminded the whole world that there is still some genius in him.
2. Ibra's English curse
It's now three goals in 16 games against English opposition for Ibrahimovic. Once again, the whole of Europe had its eyes on him and once again, he disappointed. The PSG leader, who had scored 41 goals in his past 36 games for club and country, simply didn’t respond to the expectations.
There was always a risk that he would try to do too much, to overplay. That’s what he does and that’s who he is. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t. When Ibra wants to save the world, he usually fails, especially when he doesn’t need to.
PSG won without him on Wednesday and had he played his usual game, with more simplicity, the Parisians could maybe have won with even a bigger margin.
To top it all, he got injured halfway through the second half and left the pitch limping. The second leg takes place in just six days and there is already a question mark over his fitness.
To be fair, given his performance and that of his team, plus the fact that Chelsea will have to attack next week at Stamford Bridge, leaving Paris to counter, the absence of Ibrahimovic, meaning Cavani on his own up front, might actually be a good thing.
3. Tale of two coaches
Before the game, there were doubts about Laurent Blanc's tactical abilities against Jose Mourinho.
The latter is a master tactician, who has proved it in the past and has showed it again this season (at Manchester City for example). This is his ninth Champions League quarterfinal and he has never lost at this stage of the competition.
On the other hand, Blanc has never been special at tactics and lacks experience (only his second last-eight appearance). Jean-Louis Gasset, his assistant, is the main brain behind the team. During his time in charge of France and this season, Blanc was sometimes criticized for his poor tactical decisions.
However, tonight, the master was beaten by the student. Mourinho, from start to finish, got it wrong. Starting with Andre Schuerrle up front, as he did in August at Manchester United, was a mistake. The German struggled in that role and Chelsea had no presence in the box.
Even Mourinho’s changes in the second half made little sense. Fernando Torres came on for Schuerrle when Chelsea were lacking in midfield and the decision to bring on Frank Lampard for Oscar at 2-1 down, when there were spaces to counter PSG, was surprising.
On the other hand, Blanc was spot on. Lucas, on for Ibrahimovic, brought pace and energy to PSG and Pastore was his "coup de genie."
Tags:PSGChelseaChampions LeagueJose MourinhoJulien LaurensZlatan IbrahimovicLaurent BlancJavier PastoreEzequiel Lavezzi
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