Football is back, and Paris Saint-Germain have, er, treated us to two matches in four days.
Friday night saw the Ligue 1 campaign get underway with a frantic 2-2 draw at Reims. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice, and missed a penalty and an open goal as PSG made their traditionally underwhelming start to the new season.
Then, last night saw Les Rouge-et-Bleu claim a 2-1 win over Napoli
in a friendly
to win the
Acqua Lete Cup. Having fallen behind to a Gonzalo Higuain goal, Zlatan levelled before Javier Pastore pranced through the home defence to slot in an eye-catching winner.
The timing of the friendly, which was arranged as part of the Ezequiel Lavezzi transfer in 2012, seemed a little non-sensical, coming three days after the start of the actual season. And it proved to be a costly night for coach Laurent Blanc as skipper Thiago Silva limped off with a recurrence of the thigh injury that has plagued him for the last year. Early estimates suggest he’ll be out for about a month.
“This was the dark of the evening,” said Blanc afterwards. “He suffered a muscular strain. I hope it will not be too serious.”
Amen to that, but the annoying thing is that this injury was entirely preventable from the point of view of both the player and the club.
Silva himself is starting to annoy me a bit. I didn’t have a massive problem when he visibly took his foot off the pedal at the end of the season to ensure he was fit for the World Cup; PSG were home and dry in the league anyway, and leading your country in a home World Cup isn’t a chance that comes up very often.
But that tournament is over now, and he needs to pull himself together and consider whether his behaviour in the last couple of weeks has displayed a level of professionalism that befits PSG’s club captain and one of the world’s best defenders. He only returned to training three days before the Reims match, yet apparently insisted on starting. Then, , he again asked to play against Napoli despite having felt a twinge in his thigh.
What possibly benefit could come from playing two games in three days so soon after resuming training? Part of being a great player is knowing your body, and as he gets older Silva will have to recognise that he can’t play in every match, especially if his thigh continues to trouble him. He’s generally been superb for us over the last two seasons, but this doesn’t mean he can afford to let his ego to make decisions.
On the other hand, players always want to play and, if TS did report a slight issue after the Reims game, Blanc and his staff should have stood up to the captain and asked him to sit the Napoli match out.
“Thiago resumed training since July 25, before returning to Paris,” explained Blanc. “Last year, he returned quickly for the Champions Trophy. Everything went well, and you did not ask me these questions then.”
It’s often said that Ibrahimovic and Silva really run things in the PSG dressing room, not Blanc, and incidents like this do little to dispel that theory.
Anyway, a positive to come from the weekend was the form of Pastore, who had a hand in both goals against Reims before netting the winner against Napoli.
I’ve , and as far as I’m concerned nothing has changed. Doing it against Reims (with all due respect etc and so on) and then in a friendly is not the same as playing consistently well throughout a season. But at the moment he’s making himself an important of the team, and long may it continue.