Monday, February 26, 2024

Paris Saint-Germain 5-2 AS Monaco: Talking points as Ligue 1 champions secure top spot

Veselin Trajkovic in Editorial, Ligue 1 25 Nov 2023

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Paris Saint-Germain have made sure they remain at the top of the Ligue 1 table after 13 rounds with a 5-2 victory over AS Monaco at the Parc des Princes on Friday.

Goncalo Ramos broke the deadlock after 18 minutes, and Takumi Minamino restored parity four minutes later. Kylian Mbappe converted from the spot to take his team ahead again in the 39th, and between minutes 70 and 72, Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha settled the outcome. The visitors responded briefly with a 75th minute goal from Folarin Balogun, but it proved insufficient for Monaco to get anything from the game, and it was Randal Kolo Muani who set the final score in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

The game

PSG mostly dominated what was a very lively contest, with greater possession overall (55%) and chances coming more frequently for them, but Monaco certainly proved they could hurt Gianluigi Donnarumma at the other end as well.

The first two goals, one for each side, were direct consequences of goalkeeper mistakes, as Philipp Kohn spilled an awkward shot into Ramos’ feet inside the six yards and the PSG striker reacted well, and Donnarumma passed it directly to Minamino for the Japanese attacker to power home for the equalizer.

There isn’t much need to analyse the penalty given to PSG, with even Soungoutou Magassa, deemed to have fouled Dembele in the box, fully aware of what he had done. The PSG winger reached the ball first as Magassa aimed to hit it far from his goal, and his already swung foot hit Dembele hard. Mbappe’s spot-kick showed plenty of focus and determination and there was nothing Kohn could’ve done to stop it.

As for the two goalkeepers, they both redeemed their early mistakes with superb saves before halftime, as Kohn got down at full stretch to stop Mbappe from scoring again and Donnarumma did the same with Minamino at the other end. The Italy international also made a fine save on a free header by Balogun, and it should be said that his defenders should’ve known better than to leave the Arsenal loanee unmarked for a corner.

At the start of the second half, Minamino had a chance to equalize again, but his strong effort from the edge of the box went straight into Donnarumma.

But just as Monaco started feeling they could yet do something in this game, Fabian Ruiz caught them all at unawares with a fantastic pass for Dembele on the right wing, and the France international took one brilliant touch to beat Mangassa again, before slamming past Kohn from a very tight angle. A remarkable goal from the former Barcelona man.

The shock for Monaco obviously took some time to wear off, and they defended rather meekly again two minutes later, when Vitinha was allowed to pick out the far top corner with perfect accuracy from around 20 yards and set the score at 4-1. The game was settled then and there, but there was still more to come from both teams.

An apparent moment of complacency hit the home side in the 75th minute, and their offside trap failed as Balogun timed his run to perfection to latch onto a fine Minamino pass, and showed immaculate composure to slot past Donnarumma.

Substitute Wissam Ben Yedder could’ve made things interesting again in the 89th minute, but Donnarumma saved his low drive from inside the box. Monaco still weren’t giving up just yet, and their strong offensive towards the end left them with a total of 10 corners taken (PSG took just two). But in the end, the strength of Adi Hutter’s team failed and it was Kolo Muani with the last word after a scramble in the visitors’ box, just as the six minutes of stoppage time were expiring.

Kylian Mbappe

The quality of Mbappe is not exactly something that needs proving anymore – wearing the captain’s armband for both PSG and France at the age of 25, and being considered one of the best attackers on the planet, these things speak volumes.

Even so, the form Mbappe is on at the moment is remarkable. The penalty he converted against his former club, which he didn’t celebrate too emphatically, was his seventh goal, along with two assists, in the last five Ligue 1 games. Furthermore, he scored a hat-trick in the final round of the Euro qualifiers for his country last week, albeit in a 14-0 thrashing of Gibraltar.

There’s been way too much talk in the media, particularly in Spain, about Real Madrid’s desire to take Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu. There was even a moment when they claimed an agreement had already been reached at one point, but PSG obviously stood fast and didn’t allow their most-prized asset to leave so easily. Lately, there have been reports suggesting Real had cooled their interest, but the reliability of all such stories is questionable at best. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, it remains to be seen what happens, but it seems quite logical that the only way Real might give up would be for Mbappe himself to give them a firm “no”.

And that’s not very likely to happen, is it?

In all competitions, Mbappe now has 16 goals in as many games for PSG this season, and come what may next summer, the mixture of his quality and current form is something for all football fans to enjoy.

Table rankings

Since Mbappe left Monaco for PSG in 2017, a loan deal made permanent a year later for a whopping €180 million, only LOSC Lille have managed to snatch the title away from the capital, just once, in 2020/21. And as things stand at the moment, PSG remain the absolute favourites to keep the crown this term. This victory has allowed them to pull away at the top of the table, though second-place Nice have a good chance to close the gap down to one point again when they welcome Toulouse on Sunday.

As for Monaco, whatever happens in the remaining games, they will stay third after this round, with Lille and Reims both four points behind going into their respective matches against Olympique Lyon and Rennes.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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