Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Class Act

Zlatan - A man among boys

The money must have made the pain a little easier to take but I couldn't help thinking, after the final whistle went in the Parc des Princes tonight, that Zlatan must have felt like a footballing Gulliver among the little people of his new Ligue 1 surroundings.

For long periods of this match it was attack v counter attack. If it had been a boxing match the referee would have brought a halt to proceedings long before the end as the mercurial Swede created chance after chance only to see his team mates squander them, and then as if to show solidarity with his newly acquired Parisian work mates Zlatan himself missed a header to finish the match off.

Last season Lorient, a town I was once told had nothing going for it beyond its decaying WW2 submarine pens, came to town on the opening day of the season and spoiled the party. This season they weren't going to rest on their country bumpkin laurels they were going to spoil the rich man's party again.

For long periods of the first half the away side played on the home sides nervousness and the home crowd's anxiousness. A club that has signed: Alex. Maxwell and Zlatan (all Champions League winners) and added Ezequiel Lavezzi, Mohamed Sissoko and Thiago Motta to a side that finished second in the league last year weren't supposed to find it this hard against the side that finished seventeenth but they did. As wave after wave of Zlatan inspired attacks crashed on the rocks of the Breton defence or missed through the sheer profligacy of the home sides finishing.

Incredibly Lorient led the title favourites 2-0 and twice Ibrahimovic scored, the second a penalty in the final minute.

For PSG this must have been a crushing blow, they aren't just favourites for all three French domestic competitions but also looked upon as at least group winners in the Champions League, only the Eurovision Song Contest and the Prix de l'arc de triomphe are beyond their grasp apparently - although the latter is run on 'home turf'. Motta and Sissoko were missing last night and without them the PSG midfield looked hopeless, up front there was little support for Ibrahimovic until Gameiro came on replacing the ineffectual Lavezzi. All that said it's early days, very early days, and Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping that the six or seven players he has added to the PSG stew can at least produce something that wins as well as looking good on paper.

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