PSG 1-1 AS Monaco: Monaco Stay Top Of Ligue 1 After Exhilarating Draw in Paris

PSG 1-1 AS MonacoParis Saint-Germain were the dominant side against fellow nouveaux-riches club AS Monaco at the Parc Des Princes on Sunday night, but only managed a 1-1 draw with their title rivals. Zlatan Ibrahimović poked the home side into an early lead, but £50 million Colombia forward Radamel Falcao cancelled out his opener soon after with a scrappy effort. Monaco went into the match having only lost one of their previous 26 games, and PSG were unbeaten in 22, so both teams managed to continue their impressive unbeaten records.

The PSG full-backs were exploiting space behind the Monaco back-line from the opening minutes, so it came as no surprise when Ibrahimović volleyed in the impressive Maxwell’s tantalising cross just five minutes in. Thiago Silva played a long ball down the left wing which the Brazilian reached in acres of space, before putting a powerful ball into the box which was met by the mercurial Swede.

Monaco were penned in in the opening stages, with influential midfielder João Moutinho barely seeing the ball in the opening stages. When Monaco did come forward it was on the counter attack, with Maxwell and Gregory Van Der Wiel’s forays into the attacking third of the pitch leaving space behind for Lucas Acampos and Yannick Carrasco to exploit. Carrasco had an effort from the edge of the penalty area blocked by Salvatore Sirigu, but most of Monaco’s chances came from corners and frequent free-kicks in an increasingly heated atmosphere.

Zlatan Ibrahimović and Edinson Cavani were showing signs of gelling with an Ibra back-heel putting Cavani through, but the Uruguayan dragged his shot across the face of goal. He was made to rue that miss after 20 minutes when Monaco’s marquee summer signings, Moutinho and Falcao, combined to haul Monaco level. Moutinho whipped a delicious ball from the left wing in between the goalkeeper and the defense, and among three players on the ground, Falcao somehow managed to touch the ball into Sirigu’s bottom corner.

Forceful, almost Yaya Toure-esque running from Blaise Matuidi and excellent passing and dribbling from Man of the Match Marco Verratti, backed up by the solid and dependable Thiago Motta, left PSG’s midfield in complete control of the ball, and it was Les Parisiens who created the next opportunity. Ezequiel Lavezzi was sent spinning to the floor - adding several rolls of his own for effect - and from the resulting free kick, Ibrahimović headed just over from the center of the box. Ex-Roma man Marquinhos was finally booked for his fifth foul of the match some minutes later, with Falcao bending his free kick around the wall, but also around the post.

PSG 1-1 AS MonacoThe Parc Des Princes must have been one of the wealthiest places on earth at that moment with both billionaire owners in attendance, but Nasser Al-Khelaifi was left frustrated when Ibrahimović found himself through on goal, only to take an eternity to make a decision. When he eventually cut back, two defenders were in his way and his curling effort (or was it a cross?) bent around the top corner with Lavezzi unable to turn it in.

Ibra was finding himself in good positions too often for Monaco’s liking, with the PSG defense and midfield using him as a target man, with Cavani, Matuidi and Lavezzi running behind him. Cavani and Ibra’s former clubs, Napoli and AC Milan, were also in action against each other during the match, but the two still don’t look like forming a cohesive partnership, with Cavani seeming out-of-place on the right wing. It came as something of a surprise, then, when the dangerous Lavezzi was taken off for Lucas Moura in a like-for-like swap, with Monaco showing attacking intent by bringing on James Rodríguez for Geoffrey Kondogbia.

Cavani and Ibrahimović both hit limp free kicks straight into the wall, and although Falcao’s hold-up play was less than stellar and Monaco had been flat in the break, one counter from Rodríguez nearly paid off for the visitors. He was lightning fast down the right wing, and although his early cross to Falcao looked delicious, it was an inch or two too high for the forward to make a telling contact. Sirigu was looking solid when shots were taken, but considerably less so when caught flapping at crosses.

The game began to fizzle out in the last ten or fifteen minutes with Monaco, to their credit, leaving the home fans quiet and anxious, but in stoppage time they nearly had something to cheer about. Cavani was blocked off but PSG maintained their pressure, and the last in a string of tantalizing crosses from the marvelous Maxwell was desperately headed over and Cavani sent a glancing header inches wide from a short corner. PSG manager Laurent Blanc was probably correct in saying, “Given the amount of chances we had we deserved to win,” but his opposite number Claudio Ranieri was left “very satisfied” with his players after a result which leaves them two points clear of PSG at the top of the table with six games played.

Written by Sam France

About these ads

PSG Look to Dominate Europe as they Sign Edinson Cavani from Napoli for Record Fee

Edinson CavaniSince Qatari Sports Investments bought Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, they have rapidly transformed from perennial under-achievers to the dominant force in French football and real contenders for the Champions League.

They followed the example of Manchester City by blowing other clubs out of the water in the transfer market, signing Javier Pastore, Lucas Moura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, and now Edinson Cavani for an eye-watering total of almost £200million. The quality in their ranks is obvious, but with the nouveau-riche AS Monaco hot on their heels in the transfer market, can PSG become a new world superpower?

In truth, Paris is not a football city. Marseille is considered the true footballing capital of the country, and PSG’s Parc des Princes is located on the edge of the city, in the suburbs. Paris’ other clubs have either gone out of business or languish in the lower divisions, giving PSG a unique advantage over its rivals because it has no competition, with no first or second division clubs within 100km.

Whereas Real Madrid have to compete with Atletico, Manchester United with noisy neighbors City, Inter with AC Milan, and Bayern Munich to an extent with lowly 1860, PSG have no competition for fans and the best young players of the region. This being the case, there was always potential for PSG to become a big force in Europe, but the club didn’t experience their true heyday until the 1990′s, when they were bought by TV giants Canal+.

Football stars such as George Weah, Rai, Jay-Jay Okocha, and Ronaldinho passed through the club, and despite early successes, they slumped down the table and were almost relegated in 2008. Since Nasser Al-Khelaifi and the QSI completed their takeover in 2012 however, their rise has been meteoric and so far unchallenged. Al-Khelaifi bought the club for less than the infamous Venkys paid for Blackburn Rovers, and has since referred to PSG as a “project.” Other fans use this as a derogatory term, saying that PSG no longer exists and has been replaced by ‘the project’.

Giants such as Carlo Ancelotti and Leonardo were brought in to manage the club and did so successfully, winning Ligue 1 in 2012 and enjoying a successful Champions League campaign; they only bowed out on away goals after draws with Barcelona.

PSGAlthough Zlatan Ibrahimovic led the line in the league with 30 goals, he played a more withdrawn role in Europe, holding the ball up and creating goals with strong center-forward play. He scored three and assisted five in the Champions League, with goals shared round the team; Ezequiel Lavezzi was the top scorer with five in nine European appearances.

Despite these impressive figures, it was not all smooth sailing for the journeyman Swede, as he was sent off in the 92nd minute of the first leg victory over Valencia for a cynical foul on Mexican winger Andres Guardado, leaving his team without their star striker for the crucial second leg. They survived it and went through to play Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

The standout performer across both legs was their influential captain, Brazilian defender Thiago Silva. Silva was calm and composed during the 2-2 draw in the first leg, always there when it mattered to win the ball from Messi, Villa, Iniesta and co. After putting in such a stoic performance, he was visibly exasperated by his teammates when a penalty was conceded, and converted, in the 90th minute, but was as jubilant as anyone when Blaise Matuidi humiliated Victor Valdes four minutes later with the last kick of the match. PSG led for 20 minutes of the second leg and were only put under pressure with the introduction of Lionel Messi, and although they hung on for a draw they were unable to find the goal to take them through.

Carlo Ancelotti has left to manage Real Madrid and Leonardo has stepped down from his position, so new manager Laurent Blanc needed to make a statement upon his arrival. He already had possibly the best center-forward and the best center-half in the world, a Brazilian superstar forward and a dependable defense and midfield, so what could he possibly do? Bring in one of Ibra’s rivals to challenge for the “best center-forward in the world” title, that’s what.

Edinson Cavani arrived for a gigantic £55million fee after scoring 38 goals in 43 goals for Napoli last season, giving PSG one of the most potent forward lines in recent history. Some have said that the signing was made as a show of power, especially to new rivals Monaco, who signed Falcao for a similar fee, but also to the rest of the footballing world.

Edinson CavaniChelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid were also looking to capture the Uruguayan’s signature, but he was lured away from established superpowers to the relatively small world of French football. Others feel his arrival signals the end of Ibra’s stay in France, with rumors he is unhappy about the appointment of new manager Blanc. Having now played in France, Italy, Spain, Holland, and Sweden, Germany or England seem the most likely destinations for a man who has never spent more than four years at one club. English fans, just imagine: a duo of Ibrahimovic and Mourinho taking the Premier League by storm, mouth-watering stuff.

The main question seems to be whether PSG can maintain their current strength. The biggest names want to be in the biggest leagues, and the draw of Qatari dollars only lasts so long. In this respect, Monaco’s rise could even be a good thing for PSG. Last season was less than competitive with Les Parisiens finishing 12 points clear of Marseille in second.

With the two richest clubs almost guaranteed the top two spots, it may even encourage other clubs to splash the cash to stay competitive, and the success of the two clubs may encourage other wealthy people to invest in the country’s football. For now, however, it seems that the only way is up for Paris Saint-Germain, and as the locals sing, “Allez les Parisiens!”

Written by Sam France

Champions League Round of 16 Preview: Part 3

I hope you all enjoyed parts one and two of my Champions League previews. As promised, here’s part 3:

AC Milan vs. Barcelona

Lionel Messi and Jordi AlbaMilan have not been enjoying domestic football this year, only racking up 37 points in 22 games as they currently lie at a disappointing fifth place. Barcelona on the other hand seem to be running away with the league, with an impressive 58 points (15 adrift of Real Madrid) and a scary goal difference of 47. The La Liga title looks set to be heading to Catalonia.

This is not the first time these clubs have met in Europe. In fact, they will be very familiar with one other having played against each other on five separate occasions in only two years. Milan failed to beat Barcelona in all five games, managing only two draws. Will this statistic prove to motivate AC Milan, or will it create a sense of nervousness? But only time can answer that question.

Key players

I see Stephan El Shaarawy, or better  known to his fans as Il Faraone (The Pharoah), as AC Milan’s key player.  El Shaarawy has made a name for himself in Italy. In this current season, he has been a part of 18 goals, having scored 15 and assisting 3. El Shaarawy will be a relatively unknown threat to Barca due to his young age. If  he can turn up for Milan in such a vital game, I believe he will be a handful for the Barcelona defense.

But does Barcelona’s key man really need an introduction? Lionel Messi has continued to stun spectators with his talent and abilities. Breaking many records year after year, he still continues to amaze. Having scored 33 goals already in La Liga, surely no player can stop him (and lets not forget Barca have Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas and co. Unlucky Milan).


Barcelona will advance, no doubt about it. Perhaps a nervy game leading to a draw at the San Siro will occur, but Barca are just too good to not advance in to the quarter finals. AC Milan will be praying to the football Gods (as did Chelsea!).

1st Leg: AC Milan 1-2 Barcelona
2nd Leg: Barcelona 3-1 AC Milan

Valencia vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Zlatan IbrahimovicArguably the quietest of ties. Yes, perhaps the other more extravagant fixtures have over shadowed this tie, but do not be mistaken, this game has the makings to be one of the most exciting.

Valencia have not been enjoying the best of years in La Liga. With only 33 points in 21 games, the Valencia of today seem a far distance from the consecutive Champions League runners up  in the 1999/00 and 2000/01 seasons.

PSG on the other hand have been enjoying their best run of form since 1994! The affluent Parisian club have asserted their financial dominance in Europe with the mega money signings of Ibrahimovic and Lucas Moura. They certainly have the quality to go far in this tournament.

Key Players

Ibrahimovic, the man, the myth, the verb? (Yes, ‘To Zlatan’ is a recognized verb in Sweden). Ibra has been relishing his time in France, having scored 19 goals in 19 games! He hasn’t lost his eye for a goal has he? Valencia will most certainly have to nullify the threat Zlatan imposes.

Meanwhile, Valencia have an attacking threat of their own. Roberto Soldado has been the key man for Valencia, stacking up 11 goals already this season. For Valencia to have any chance of progressing, Soldado has to rise to the occasion.


PSG are too hot to handle at the minute, and the pace, skill, and power they posses are far too much for Valencia to handle. I’m going to predict a win in both legs for Paris Saint-Germain.

1st Leg: Valencia 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
2nd Leg: Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Valencia

Written by TheFootballSupplement

Sweden 4-2 England: Ibrahimovic Nets Four Goals Against the Three Lions

This is not the way England planned on celebrating Steven Gerrard’s 100th cap and the debuts of 6 new players on the squad. Sweden marked the opening of their new stadium with a remarkable 4-2 win against England in a friendly match. The game saw an amazing comeback from the Swedes, and although it was only a friendly, it was a match that football fans will never forget. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was clearly the star of the match, single-handedly crushed the English, completing a hat trick and then scoring a fourth goal that could well be one of the best goals in the history of football.

Ibrahimovic fired the opener in the 20th minute, putting Sweden up 1-0 halfway through the 1st half. But the Three Lions responded fairly quickly, netting 2 goals thanks to Danny Welbeck and Steven Caulker, putting Roy Hodgson’s side a 2-1 lead at the half-way mark. But Ibrahimovic’s time to shine was yet to come. 14 minutes into the 2nd half, England still had the lead, and Tom Huddlestone, Ryan Shawcross, and Carl Jenkinson were substituted in just in time for the show. With ease, Ibrahimovic dodged Shawcross and scored a powerful equalizer past goalkeeper Joe Hart. Just 7 minutes later, Ibrahimovic put another one in the back of the net from a free-kick 35 yards out, putting Sweden in the lead with the score of 3-2.

But England did not at all expect the grand finale Ibrahimovic staged 47 seconds into stoppage time. The English defense cleared the ball, and Joe Hart made a mess of a headed clearance that went up rather than out. 30 yards away from the goal, Ibrahimovic made a perfect propeller kick, which met the ball 8 feet away from the ground.

And the stadium went quiet as England and Sweden fans alike watched the path of the ball. It went flying over the goalkeeper, and after 2 seconds and without a single bounce, the ball flew into the top right corner of the open goal. The wonder goal drew standing ovations from the entire arena, and Ibrahimovic ripped off his shirt and threw it at the crowd in celebration. He merely shrugged when the referee showed him a yellow card, and he continued to rejoice with his team.

Ibrahimovic was unmatched by any player, in yellow or in white, and his amazing goal will be remembered for generations to come. Unfortunately for him, it was scored just after FIFA closed the window for the “Goal of the Year Award,” but he could easily win the title next year. No one has scored a hat trick on England since Marco van Basten in 1988, and never has anyone scored 4 before Ibrahimovic.

Written by FutbolPulse