Let’s get back on track here, can we? We’ve had our first real bump of the season, drawing with Lille and getting mullered by Sevilla, but as long as we keep our heads we can get straight back to business. Onward to Nancy!
AS Nancy Lorraine are still on single points as they’ve lost 4 of their 9 matches so far and as we need a win to cure our little hangover, I’m going as close to full strength as I can today in the hopes that we’ll blast them to smithereens. Marquinhos slides the armband on for his first start since coming back from injury and replaces Boris Triponez, Dobby comes in for Lucas on the left, Kovacic comes back into midfield replacing Neves, while Éder slides back to provide the solidity and Brazilian duo Coutinho and Orlando replace Veiga and Cvitanovic in our attacking line.
Oh dear. Within 4 minutes of the match, Éder loses track of Vincent, can’t get close enough to block his chipped ball through for Zeneli and the winger gets himself goal-side of Marquinhos and boots the ball past Gigi from 8 yards. We’re behind for the 3rd time in 3 games. The first 20 minutes or so are very scrappy on the whole though and Zeneli resorts to frustrated 35 yard potshots that are closer to the corner flag than the goal, which is fine by me.
Just after the half hour we manage to hit back when Kovacic’s corner is only cleared as far as Coutinho, nods it down for Éder, who completes the Brazilian trifecta by laying it off for Orlando. The winger strokes the ball firmly into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to bring us level.
Before the break, Coutinho spins on the ball inside the centre circle and then sprays a perfect pass onto the right flank for Coman. The French International dribbles down the right wing, whips a cross into the 6 yard box and Orlando arrives again to knock it over the line and complete the turnaround.
We take our lead into the second half and with an hour to go I freshen things up with the introductions of Manuel Bueno and Rúben Neves in place of Kean and Éder. 7 minutes later Coutinho countinhues… Never mind… He continues to impress by bringing a loose ball down with his shoulder and dinking a pass into the central channel for Bueno. The mighty Spaniard barrels into the box and shoots, but Martín does his job well in rushing out and blocking the shot.
Both sides go close in the last 15 minutes, first when a well worked PSG free kick is drifted in from right wing by Coutinho, flicked on by Ibarra and headed over from close range by Coman and then when Zeneli chips the ball through our defence for Torin, who drags a shot just wide of the far post. Thankfully, we manage to scrape through to claim the 3 points.
It’s a funny thing, momentum in football. Until now, a scraped 2-1 victory over a side like Nancy would be ringing alarm bells, but after our worrying week, the 3 points were all that mattered there. Now with that admittedly small monkey off our backs, hopefully we can get back to expecting more dominance in our wins. I’m very thankful to Orlando for his brace and I’m more than happy to see almost £5M shipped off to Santos (Brazil) after he reached 10 league goals for us. He also makes it into the Ligue 1 Team of the Week and rightly so.
PSG are the top club in France for producing Ligue 1 footballers as 22 of our graduates are currently plying their trade in France’s top tier. Auxerre are in 2nd with 17, which obviously makes me smug as fuck.
And speaking of our youth graduates, we’ve just announced an affiliation with FC Utrecht which could see some talented young Dutch players emerge from our academy in years to come.
Struggling Stade Rennais are in the unfortunate position of being the team that we face at home right after we’ve gotten back to winning ways. I want us to prove how over the Sevilla result we are by hammering the poor bastards into the ground like a big red and black tent peg.
I also want captain Marquinhos to show how over his injury he is by leading us to victory from the back. He plays his 350th league match for PSG today and is rapidly closing in on the club record. Toni Lato’s back from injury now too and will be on the bench. Meanwhile, Neves, Renan, Cvitanovic and Bueno all come in as Éder, Bologna, Coutinho and Kean are rested.
Again we start shakily much to my annoyance. To make matters worse it’s Marquinhos that brings instant pressure to our door, giving away a free kick almost straight from kick off. Diallo smashes the free kick over the bar. Before even 5 minutes have passed, they come at us again and again it’s Diallo leading the charge. He sprints down the left wing, sends a low cross spinning away off Bologna’s outstretched leg and Rennais work the ball around the edge of our box. It ends up at the feet of Joel Campbell, who lays it off for Alexis Blin to fire low past Gigi. Behind again. For fucks sake.
Our fortunes change again around the half hour and it’s Kovacic that’s the catalyst. Coman drives down the right and drills in a cross that Jovanovic swipes clear as far as the Croatian, who plays Orlando through on the left wing. Orlando squares it to Bueno on the penalty spot and the target man slides the ball into the bottom corner. A minute later Kovacic plays a beautiful flat lofted ball through the centre that takes 4 Rennais players out of the game and leaves Bueno with a clear run at goal. He shoots from the edge of the box but Chandarov bats it wide for our corner.
That one comes to nothing but we win another corner in the 33rd minute. Cvitanovic crosses it in, Mukiele nods it away but Kovacic is there again, cushioning the ball down for Rúben Neves, who brings it down on the penalty spot and drills into the bottom corner for 2-1. We see the half out with relative comfort and finally open up a cushion in the 53rd minute when Kovacic lays the ball off for Dobby, who slams it to the keeper’s right from the edge of the box. The box to box midfielder then dribbles into the Rennais area just before the hour and squares for Bueno, but his shot deflects off Mukiele’s legs and falls to Orlando, who slots in our 4th goal from 10 yards.
I’m pretty content now that the game’s won, so off come Neves, Kovacic and Coman for half an hour of rest. Seeing as we’re hosting Sevilla midweek I want them fresh for the utter bollocking we’ll be dishing out. Éder, Veiga and Coutinho all come on. With a few minutes to play, Bueno comes off injured and we go down to 10 men, but it’s not going to affect us now. In fact we get another chance in the dying minutes when Coutinho finds a pocket of space on the right and floats a cross in to the far post. Cvitanovic heads at goal from close range but Chandarov manages to hold onto it. 4-1 it finishes.
While I’m a bit annoyed that we need to keep coming back from a goal down, I wanted a couple of decent wins to wash away the taste of that Sevilla loss and we’ve got them. What would be really handy is if we can give Sevilla a hiding at the Parc des Princes to well and truly put that demon to bed. For now, at least until Monaco play their game in hand, we’re back on top of the league and feeling good.