Beaten for the first time in the league in Rennes (0-2), the Parisians have fallen back into their faults and show that their good start to the accounting championship should not obscure the chronic inability to build something collective. This PSG must do more. Permanently.
In the age of football statistics, kilometers traveled and the number of pressing per match, there are figures that remain extremely violent when it comes to telling the story of a match. In Rennes, five days after a united and effective collective performance against Manchester City (2-0), PSG did not frame a single strike. And as everything is a question of context, here is the one of this quack: in Brittany, the club of the capital taken on the ground by his square of ace Mbappé-Di María-Neymar-Messi did not frame the slightest shot against to a team that had played Thursday night on the European stage, away, and outnumbered. Rather rare offensive misery since this had not happened to Parisians for six years.
It is as appalling to write as to read finally: Mbappé-Neymar-Di María-Messi did not frame the slightest strike in Rennes. Obviously, difficult to win a match in such conditions, especially when the defense, it fails in great width and finds the feat of conceding a goal in the same minute, sixty seconds barely cut in half by the break. Because yes, this PSG that some saw imitating the “Invincibles” of Arsenal has already fallen after nine days of Ligue 1 conceding goals at 45e and 46e minute of his match.
Attackers who doubt
The saddest thing in this story is not that PSG let slip games in the league, it is rather the predictability with which the defeat of Rennes pointed its nose. Already at the limit against Lyon and Metz, with success in stoppage time – and always looking for an identity, a game, a solidarity since the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino -, this PSG seems, sometimes, lost and deposited there, on a piece of land, without really knowing why or what to do. After the beautiful victory against Citizens, Tuesday, the club of the capital fell back into its failings. Traverses that often take nocturnal paths. Yes, it is difficult to put in direct relation the numerous exits of the Parisians with a defeat, but the coexistence of the two disturbs, especially for the image. Whether it is the birthday of the model Cindy Bruna, Fashion week or so – here it is a stroke of fate – a late arrival in Rennes because of the weather conditions, the Parisian workforce for the most part has stayed up late since victory against City. The way Neymar dragged his pounds, his lack of speed and liveliness, on the Rennes lawn speaks volumes about his physical deficit. To this physical lack of preparation, we can add doubt. The Brazilian has not found the net in the game with the capital club for more than ten games, Mbappé, he has not scored for five games and is therefore going through his greatest offensive misery since his arrival in the capital, Messi has still not been decisive in Ligue 1 and, finally, the quartet weighs only 5 small goals in the league in nine days.
Pochettino, what is the project?
It is the price of the glory to try to make four attackers also cannibals coexist on a football field. Players who have understood the Parisian problematic level of traffic: things get stuck in the axis all the time. In Rennes, he missed this percussion on the wings – all that the very restless Kamaldeen Sulemana achieved, for example – and this ability to be efficient (a boy like Moussa Diaby would do this team a lot of good, it’s nerd). Morality, with the exception of 30 quite pleasant minutes, but punctuated by no shot on target, nothing happened in the PSG match. The second period, started by a goal conceded on the kickoff, did not suggest any revolt, no collective desire, no leadership. All dictated by coaching that is still soft and late.
This is also PSG. A coach who must more do politics, sparing egos and sensitivities, rather than setting up his philosophy. Pochettino, like others before him, is breaking his principles by wanting to please everyone from the goalie to the offensive distribution. Of course, PSG, leader of the championship and its group of C1, is backed by a rather successful balance sheet despite two defeats since the Champions Trophy against Lille, but in the game, in collective expression, in preferential circuits , in what he shows, the “best workforce ever assembled under QSI” has not yet delivered any collective service worthy of the name in Ligue 1. A postulate that could almost be extended to the calendar year 2021 and the arrival of Pochettino on the bench.
The requirement at the center of everything
It is still too early to be alarmed, but the financial might of the club and the extremely high goals the club sets for itself by stacking the stars are forcing supporters and followers to a requirement well above the average. We must not let anything go to this PSG. It is sport of a very high level, a summit that players in physical distress, of their own accord, cannot claim to be familiar with. A boy like Neymar, who will be 30 in 2022, does not have the right to string together as many performances in the domestic championship of which he is supposed to be one of the best players. The man who flew over the Final 8 in August 2020 comes out of his least successful season in the Parisian ranks in Ligue 1. Beyond the thickening of his silhouette, the kidney stroke has disappeared. To see him, unable to pass the slightest dribble in a Ligue 1 match is a terrible disavowal. So Mauricio Pochettino is asking for time. It has been his shield since the start of the season. Ok, but until when? Making your mouth water on FIFA 22 is good, building something coherent and lasting on the pitch is better. Because since taking office last December, when we are about to see Pochettino’s PSG play, we are sure of only one thing: we do not know what we will see …
By Mathieu Faure