It was the meeting of the mega rich and the top two teams in Ligue 1, as Monaco welcomed league leaders Paris Saint-Germain to Stade Louis II. The meeting between these two sides is now considered the top fixture in French football and it didn’t disappoint in what was an entertaining 1-1 draw.
Before the match, Monaco manger Claudio Ranieri played down the significance of this fixture, saying “PSG are the finished product, while we are a work in progress.” However, Ranieri was probably modest in his statement, as the history books show that Monaco are unbeaten in their last 8 encounters with PSG in the league with 3 wins and 5 draws. New signing, Dimitar Berbatov was on bench after completing his loan move from Fulham, but came off the bench on the 63rd minute to make his debut replacing Valère Germain.
The game started well for PSG who kept possession amongst themselves for the opening few minutes. Their passing seemed perfect as they attempted to make their way up the field. The first major incident came on the 7th minute as Silva appealed that Germain handled the ball in the box. It did seem to graze his arm unintentionally and worthy of a penalty.
It didn’t matter in the end for Les Rouge-et-Bleu, as Motta whipped the corner around nicely towards Alex, who made the leap to head the ball down towards goal. However, it was deflected by Toulalan and landed straight into the path of Javier Pastore, who made no error in heading it into the back of the net. The goal ended a scoring drought for the attacking midfielder, which lasted over 20 hours.
Monaco didn’t take long to reply, they sent the ball towards the visitors’ end and attempted numerous shots at goal, but couldn’t trouble the keeper as the PSG defence were solid and held off the attacks.
The visitors didn’t work on their lead and for the 15 minutes after their goal, the play was sloppy and they lost possession on numerous occasions. Monaco worked some magic in an attempt to get an equaliser. Kurzawa played a lovely flick over two defenders towards Oscampo, who couldn’t get the ball down. Verratti lost possession outside his own box and Ocampos took advantage with a shot, which was parried by Sirigu. The ball landed to Rivière, however it is too fast the forward, who only gets a tip of the ball before it went wide.
PSG came into life as van der Wiel crossed in a ball perfectly towards goal. Matuidi lunged towards it but Subašić was there to make the save, which summed up his performance that earned him man of the match.
The game then heated up as a list of names entered the book in the space of four minutes. Carvalho and Rodríguez picked up yellow cards after both catching Ibrahimović with late challenges. Verratti was then given a yellow card after he got into an aerial challenge with Rodríguez, turning his back into him, with Rodríguez going down with the challenge and seemed to make the most of it.
Before the end of the half, there was a penalty appeal from Monaco. Rivière tried to turn around towards goal, goes down but is quickly on his feet, as Fabinho takes a follow up shot that is deflected wide by Silva.
Monaco started the second half well and looked for an equaliser. However, PSG started to gain a bit of momentum and Ibrahimović made a fine effort with a 26 metre free kick, making Subašić work for the save to his bottom right.
There was some show of skill from PSG, with Maxwell and Lucas flicking the ball to each other before sending a cross to Pastore, who headed the ball wide. Lucas also made Subašić work as he took a nice placed shot outside the box, which the keeper couldn’t keep his hands on.
The home side went onto trouble the visitors, with the substitute, Kondogbia, having a shot heavily deflected and Sirigu made a mess of it as Rivière tried to get a touch on the ball. Silva seemed to barge into him as he attempted to go for the ball, which would normally end up as foul if it were to happen outside the box.
Monaco’s pressure paid off at Fabinho ran up the wing with the ball and attempted a low cross into the box, only for it to be deflected in by Thiago Silva. A terrible own goal to concede, especially for a player who had been playing well for the previous three quarters of the game. Monaco had an attempt to win the game, as Ferreira Carrasco sent a through ball to Fabinho into the box but he couldn’t get the shot right and Sirigu saved it.
It was then the visitor’s chance to win the game, a cross sent towards Ibrahimović, who controlled it nicely but hit it straight into Subašić. However, Abidal couldn’t clear the ball and gifts possession to Lavezzi, who nearly pokes the ball home, but it just went wide of the post.
It was a well-fought battle between these two clubs, with both sides having numerous chances to get the win. It was probably a fair result for both sides, although PSG will be disappointed they couldn’t have made more of the chances that were handed to them. However, their five point lead at the top is still intact.
Laurent Blanc, will be happy with his team’s performance, including a great turnout by Lucas Moura. However, he will be disappointed that his side are not putting away the opportunities that were given to them on the night. A worrying thought, considering the next stage of the Champions League is just around the corner.