Thursday, 29 November 2012

Stupid PSG videos of the week: All I want for Christmas is... Zlatan? On a jumper?

Paris Saint-Germain exited the Coupe de la Ligue on penalties on Tuesday night, losing out 5-4 to Saint Etienne after a goalless draw at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard.

It was a close match, one which PSG probably should have won, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing a couple of chances he would usually put away in his sleep. Ibra also made himself look like a twonk with this overhead kick attempt which didn't quite match up to his effort against England a couple of weeks ago. In fact the words epic and fail come to mind:

Poor Zlatan. But he can console himself with the fact that he has been immortalised on a jumper. American artist Lisa Anne Auerbach, who is apparently famous for her jumpers, has knitted Ibra sweater for her exhibition which runs at Malmo Konsthal until January. "This sweater is a ridiculous, over the top, sports sweater for a fan. The patterns represent his tattoos," she explains in the video. It's obvious when you think about it, isn't it? I'm sure it'll be the must have item this Christmas. Click here for the video:

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

St Etienne vs PSG: Pastore absent for Coupe de la Ligue showdown

If I could be any Ligue 1 manager, I reckon I'd quite like to be St Etienne's Christophe Galtier.

I don't know much about him (he's from Marseille, which is obviously a fairly big downside), but he always strikes me as a pretty cool guy, not least because he looks immaculate on the touchline. Not many people can pull off a puffa jacket in this day and age, but as you can see it looks good on him - sartorially he basically the polar opposite of Elie Baup.

Galtier is a decent football manager too, having guided ASSE to third in the Ligue 1 standings, and masterminded a 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc-des-Princes earlier this month. The two sides meet again tonight at the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard, with a place in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals at stake, and Les Verts' boss seems quietly confident his men can pull off a surprise.

"We failed at this stage two years ago at Auxerre, but this time it is much better [because] we're at home," he said

"The excitement is there, but I hope that there will not be too much, and we will give 200 per cent in the legs and in the head.  

"If we have the good fortune to qualify, it will be an achievement. Do not be mistaken, it is the Parisians who are favourites."

When will football people learn that you can't give 200 per cent? If he's waiting for that Galtier is going to end up disappointed.

For PSG, Verratti and Alex have joined Bodmer, Motta, and Gameiro on the sidelines injured, but Jezza Menezza is back and could come straight into the starting line-up if Ancelotti decides to give one of Ibra, Lavezzi, or Nene a rest. Nicholas Douchez is set for his customary start in goal.

One man who won't be involved is Javier Pastore, who got the hook at half-time in Saturday's 4-0 win over Troyes after another anonymous 45 minutes.

"At the moment, there is a problem of confidence in him," said Carlo at his pre-match presser. "But the players, they always have confidence in him.

"Everyone needs to help to get him out of this difficult passage. He is professional, focused on his work. I'm sure he'll get out soon."

The problem is El Flaco has been stuck in the difficult passage for a while now, and shows no signs of finding the exit. Like the players, I still have confidence in him, and don't think he's been quite as bad this season as some people would like to make out.

But at the same time it's difficult to see where he fits into the team in the long-term when it's obvious that we play best with a couple of nippy players operating behind or alongside Ibrahimovic. With ongoing rumours of interest from AC Milan, we could soon be reaching a tipping point in El Flaco's career in Paris. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

PSG topple Troyes thanks to Zlatan's four-play and a tale of two left-backs

I never fail to be amused by some of the keywords which cause people to land on this blog.

Common ones include "Lavezzi body" (you're all perverts), "Kosovare Asllani hot" (see point one) and, bizarrely, "Justin Bieber crying". The Bieber has never featured on PSGT, crying or otherwise, and never will if I have anything to do with it.

But my favourite one remains "Zlatan gets boner nose still bigger". Quite what caused someone to enter this into a search engine I have no idea - it's not question I've ever asked myself before - but I hope their curiosity was at least partially satisfied by this pictorial evidence.

Whatever the size of his manhood, Ibra's form on the pitch remains pretty sexy. He did his best to contradict those of us who insist PSG aren't a one-man team by bagging two goals and two assists in yesterday's 4-0 victory over Troyes.

It was from Ibrahimovic's cross that Maxwell opened the scoring, sliding in his second goal in three Ligue 1 games. The Swede then provided a pass for Blaise Matuidi, who enjoyed another outstanding match in midfield, to make it 2-0 with a first time finish that found the net via the inside of the post.

That scoreline was probably a fair one at that point, as Troyes gave as good as they got, and kept Salvatore Sirigu busy with a string of shots which the Italian dealt with in his usual authoritative fashion. But Ibrahimovic's late double gave the scoreline a flatteringly one-sided look.

"We are still not solid enough to be a team that plays with continuity," noted Carletto afterwards. "But the team has reacted really well this week. We have scored six goals, not conceded any, have qualified for the next stage of the Champions League and got back to winning ways in Ligue 1. That is a lot in six days."

Indeed, and there's been plenty going on off the pitch too, with PSG supposedly removing a tweet from the official club Twitter stream that suggested Ashley Cole had agreed to join us this summer. It turns out it was actually a Photoshopped fake, but nevertheless prompted stories on several supposedly reputable websites. You can always rely on PSG Tourist not to indulge in such idle speculation.

One left-back who is at the club, but possibly not for much longer, is Siaka Tiene. Poor old Tiene, who has only seen 10 minutes of action for the club this season, opened his heart to Le Parisien yesterday in a move which is likely to make him about as popular as Peguy Luyindula at the Parc-des-Princes.

"I want to play, and as it is not possible here, I'll have to go elsewhere," said the Ivory Coast international. "I'm 30 and I have eight months left on my contract in Paris, I can not stay like this.

"At the beginning [of the season], I was confident. By working hard and persevering, I was certain that I would give my chance. That's why I stayed. I do not understand why I do not play."

I think most of us who have seen Siaka in "action" probably understand why he hasn't had much of a look-in this season. He says he rejected offers from West Brom and teams in Turkey over the summer, so hopefully they'll be some interest again when the transfer window opens in January.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Dynamo Kiev 0-2 PSG: El Poccho pockets pair as PSG progress to the Champions League last-16

Crisis? What crisis.

Paris Saint-Germain booked their place in the last-16 of the Champions League with a comfortable 2-0 win over Dynamo Kiev, Ezequiel Lavezzi netting both goals.

"You would probably describe PSG as dangerous floaters in the draw" noted the commentator on my stream, seemingly without any hint of irony. In fairness, anyone who has seen us at times this season would confirm we're more than capable of serving up some right old shit.

Opponents Dynamo Kiev were pretty merde themselves, but at least gave it a better go than when we whooped them 4-1 at the Parc-des-Princes back in September. In fact they probably had the upper hand in a fairly low-key first half: Salvatore Sirigu had to be alert to save twice to deny Oleh Husyev, and on the second occasion Denys Garmash really should have netted the rebound but blazed over from close range.

At the other end Alex was guilty of a similarly terrible miss when he headed Nene's inviting cross over the bar, but PSG's superior attacking quality told just before the break. Lavezzi played a sweet little give-and-go with Ibra, and sprinted into the area before lifting a classy finish over the onrushing Koval.

Lavezzi doubled our lead just after the break after some Kiev defending of Lugano-esque ineptitude. A short backpass let in the tireless Blaise Matuidi (or, as the commentator referred to him, Matoody), who nudged the ball back for El Poccho to sweep into the empty net.

Not much happened after that, with Kiev lacking the craft to trouble Sirigu, even after the introduction of the dangerous Andriy Yarmolenko. The Italian keeper did have to make one tremendous save, adjusting brilliantly to beat away Dudu's deflected shot which appeared to be looping into the corner.

So PSG march on. Sort of. Next up we face Porto at the Parc-des-Princes on December 4 in a match which will decide who wins the group.

It's great to be in the last-16 but I don't think we should kid ourselves: Kiev and Dinamo Zagreb are both deeply average football teams, and though tonight we looked good going forward, with Lavezzi and Nene particularly impressive, there were plenty of shaky moments at the back, with Thiago Silva looking uncharacteristically uncertain.

Much greater challenges lie ahead in the knock-out stages, and a convincing performance is required in the Porto match if we are to prove we can truly live with Europe's top sides.

Man of the Match: Ezequiel Lavezzi - El Poccho opened his account for the club with a brace, and perhaps gave us a taste of what's to come now he's put his injury and suspension problems behind him.

Panic on the streets of the Paris as PSG travel to Kiev

Ever hoped that if you ignore something it will go away? For the last couple of years I've been keeping my fingers crossed that Britain's coalition government is a figment plucked from the murky depths of my imagination. Each day I wake up in the hope that the country isn't being run into the ground by a bunch of dithering, right-wing, chinless wonders, and each day I'm left disappointed.

Similarly, I've been steadfastly blocking out the events at the Parc-des-Princes on Saturday evening, but having checked it turns out Paris Saint-Germain actually did lose 2-1 to nine-man Rennes.

I've got a few things I want to say because I've read some absolute merde on Twitter and various websites about this game, and PSG's form in general. Firstly, our supposed dependence on Zlatan Ibrahimovic; it would be lunacy for me to say that Zlatan isn't a massive part of our team - he's scored most of our goals, assisted a load of others, and even when he's playing badly keeps at least a couple of defenders occupied. But to say that without him we're doomed isn't reflected in the stats; our record sans-Ibra is W1 D2 L1, which isn't brilliant but is far from disastrous, especially when you consider that in one of the drawn games, Montpellier, we played with ten men for 85 minutes and still probably should have won.

But it's obvious that any team is going to be weakened if it doesn't have one of the best players in the world in it. Then you look at the other squad members who were out; both our proper right-backs were missing, so Papus Camara was pressed into service in a position that doesn't really suit him, especially at the grand old age of 33. The midfield lacked the rested Marco Verratti, so often the conductor of PSG's orchestra this season, and the calming presence of the injured Thiago Motta, who could have stood in for his compatriot as the team's quarter-back. Having watched the game I actually thought Pastore had a decent match, but he's always going to do his work higher up the pitch than Verratti, and without someone to link play we're back to the old problem of the front four looking completely isolated from the rest of the team.

So did we miss Ibra, or did we miss Ibra and a load of other players? I'd suggest the latter, but either way we should still have been able to see off a Rennes side who played with nine men for most of the second half. That we didn't was down to that elusive footballing quality; luck. PSG had 24 shots on goal, and amassed 18 corners, and on most days more than one of those 24 would have found the net. That's not to take anything away from Rennes, who defended magnificently, but usually if the opposition keep shooting the ball will eventually find it's way through. For me the result was just a freak one, rather than an indicator of a deeper malaise.

I don't think we're in crisis (Carletto's words), but I do think the coach has work to do. Arguably PSG's form has been patchy since the 1-0 defeat to Porto at the beginning of October; mostly we've been getting through games and coming out with a positive result, but not with the kind of swagger or efficiency that we saw in September, when we won five matches in a row and looked like a proper team. This could be down to complacency, or the impact of the Champions League, or something else, but whatever the reason is we need to up our game. Ligue 1 is there for the taking this season, but at the moment we show no signs of wanting to take it.

Attentions turn to matters European tonight, when we go to Kiev for a crucial Champions League match. A draw would see us safely into the knock-out stages, and mean that in all likelihood a win against Porto in the final group match would be enough to see us top the group. Given that PSG are usually about as potent in Europe as the aforementioned coalition government, it's probably best not to get ahead of ourselves though.

"Some things will actually change, especially tactically," noted Ancelotti in his pre-game press conference, before locking himself in a room with a blackboard and a value pack of chalk. "Players must take responsibility and I trust them. We have achieved great things there not so long ago and there is no reason why it will not come back."

We'll see what sort of the reaction the team, which will include added Zlatan, gives come 7.45pm tonight.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

International round-up: England get Zlatan-ised, France get energised

"People will still maintain he isn't world class (...) the goal wasn't that special, I see better goals than that every week".

A couple of the quotes I woke up to on radio station talkSPORT this morning, who were discussing Zlatan Ibrahimovic's wonder-strike - his fourth goal of the game - against England. You can watch it below, I'd advise doing so again. And again. And again. It's beautiful and, contrary to Alan Brazil's opinion, I think it's unlikely you'll see any better goals this week.

Now, some might say I get what I deserve for listening to talkSPORT (for those not familiar, it's aural equivalent of listening to two half-cut pub bores discussing the Premier League 24 hours a day), but this is indicative of the dismissive attitude shown by the English towards Ibra. Come on Britain, it's about time you gave the man some r.e.s.p.e.c.t.

Elsewhere a glut of PSG players were in action as Italy hosted France, with Salvatore Sirigu and Marco Verratti starting for the Azzuri, and Mamadou Sakho and Blaise Matuidi lining up opposite them. Jeremy Menez also joined the match late on, and was involved in the winning goal, scored by Bafe Gomis to give Les Bleus a 2-1 victory.

Thiago Silva was a starter as Brazil drew 1-1 with Colombia in New Jersey (no, me neither). Paris-bound Lucas Moura came on in the second half, and probably did a few fancy tricks.

Uruguay beat the mighty Poland, with Diego Lugano enjoying some rare pitch time as he skippered La Celeste to a 3-1. No such luck for another PSG outcast, Siaka Tiene, who was an unused sub as Cote D'Ivoire beat Austria by the same score-line.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Stupid PSG picture(s) of the week: A mincing Menez and a masked Nene

PSG Tourist has been on sabbatical for the last couple of weeks, so this is the first chance we've had to congratulate Jeremy Menez on the birth of his daughter.

You may remember that earlier this year we exclusively (exclusively in the sense that no-one else in England cared) brought you the news that Jezza and his missus, scary-looking reality TV star Emilie Nefnaf, were expecting, and little Maëlla Menez was born last Thursday. Congrats to the family, no doubt we'll see Maëlla skipping down the wing - and falling over - for PSG ladies in a few years time.

Caring for a new-born child is a tough time in anyone's life, and perhaps it was a lack of sleep that led to Jezza wearing this strange looking tracksuit as he joined up with the French squad yesterday for their match against Italy. And the less said about that pose the better:

Pic: via @GuillaumeL_ on Twitter

Meanwhile, Nene is back in training after sustaining a fractured cheekbone in a match last month. However, he will have to wear this mask for the next few games while the injury heals properly. The Brazilian joins an illustrious list of mask wearers, including Gazza, John Terry and, er, Zorro.

 Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "swashbuckling winger", I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

PSG 2-0 Marseille: PSG's fanni-tastic run continues (with a little help from the ref)

In the past I may have been less than complimentary about the referees in Ligue 1, but I think I've finally found one I like.

Antony Gautier, you and your bald head are welcome back at the Parc-des-Princes any time as far as I'm concerned. It was Gautier's controversial decision to dismiss Rod Fanni that set Paris Saint-Germain on the way to a comfortable victory over Marseille in last night's Coupe de la Ligue last-16 clash.

It should be be said that prior to Mssr Gautier's intervention, PSG were already well on top in the match. Carlo Ancelotti made seven changes, including first starts of the season for Guillaume Hoarau and Zoumana Camara, and saw his side begin the match with an intensity which has perhaps been lacking in recent matches.

Javier Pastore in particular appeared to be up for the coupe, winning several 50/50 tackles that you might normally expect him to duck out of. Christophe Jallet and Blaise Matuidi provided energetic support, while up front Jeremy Menez's pace caused the visiting defence problems all night.

Matthieu Bodmer should have opened the scoring when he latched onto Thiago Silva's knock down, but could only blaze the ball over the bar from six yards out. Shortly afterwards, a rare break from the visitors saw the lively Matthieu Valbeuna find space on the edge of the box and curl a shot just wide of the post.

Then, in the 28th minute, came the decisive moment. Maxwell flighted a ball over the top which caught out the OM backline, allowing Hoarau to get goal side of Fanni, who tugged him back. The contact started outside the box, and continued into it, and Mr Gautier immediately pointed to the spot, before giving the incredulous Fanni his marching orders.

On first look I thought it was a penalty, but not a red card, as Nicolas N'Koulou could conceivably have got across to cover for his colleague. On closer inspection you could probably make a case for the opposite to be true, as the offence definitely started outside the box. Either way, the cumulative decision was as bad as Jordan Ayew's haircut. Thiago Silva stepped up to take the penalty, and sent Steve Mandanda the wrong way to open the scoring.

In fairness to OM, they regrouped well and kept PSG at arm's length until half-time. But any hopes the visitors had of winning a fourth successive Coupe de la Ligue evaporated ten minutes into the second half. Pastore dinked a beautiful pass over the defence for Jezza Menezza, who controlled beautifully with the outside of his boot before producing an emphatic finish high past Mandanda.

PSG spent the rest of the match keeping the ball and giving game-time to some squad members who had been gathering dust at the back of the cupboard. Siaka Tiene and Peguy Luyindula were both introduced in the closing stages, and almost linked up for an amusing break-away goal, but Tiene was flagged offside as he was about to pull the trigger. A Tiene goal would surely have been the ultimate insult.

Benoit Cheyrou hit the post late on for Marseille, who will no doubt be feeling aggrieved this morning about the red card/penalty incident. But the fact remains that even with 11 men, their Andre-Pierre Gignac-less attack looked toothless - the dashing Valbeuna aside.

Next up in the cup for PSG are St Etienne. We will travel to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on either November 27 or 28.

Man of the Match: Javier Pastore - El Flaco produced the kind of performance we need to see from him on a more regular basis.

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