[dropcap]G[/dropcap]iven the level of expenditure on the Paris Saint-Germain playing squad over recent years, the capital city side and its extremely wealthy owners have sky-high expectations.
At the moment these expectations are not being met, with the nouveau-riche outfit languishing in fourth place in the Ligue 1 standings.
Although within striking distance of league leaders Lyon, the reigning champions were widely expected to win the domestic competition at a canter this term, with further progression and development in the Champions League the priority.
However, with PSG only winning ten of their 20 games this season and relinquishing a 2-0 lead against a modest Bastia side at the weekend to lose 4-2 in Corsica, the Parc des Princes outfit are looking vulnerable at the moment.
Laurent Blanc’s role at the club is not under threat as yet, but the former France national team boss is under pressure that will only increase should recent underwhelming form continue.
The PSG head coach has recently reprimanded South American attacking pair Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, who both returned from the Christmas break late and missed a training camp in Morocco as a result.
The pair have subsequently been out of the first-team reckoning for the last two games, with it remaining to be seen whether they will play a role in this weekend’s Ligue 1 fixture against Evian.
Given the nature of the misdemeanour committed by the pair, sanctioning seems like the only option – but having the talented duo out of first-team contention is hurting the collective.
Zlatan Ibrahimović may well have netted the only goal in last night’s Coupe de la Ligue clash away to Saint-Etienne, but Cavani and Lavezzi will surely be needed to be at their best in forthcoming weeks and months.
The disciplinary action against the duo has only moved to increase speculation over the pair’s respective futures in the French capital; something that is seemingly a popular topic every time a transfer window opens.
Given their reputations and standing following moves to Paris, neither has seemingly fully settled within the star-studded squad or showed their best form consistently for one reason or another.
Cavani has made his livelihood out of scoring goals and being the main man in his team’s attack, but with a certain tempestuous Swede the undoubted attacking talisman at PSG, the Uruguayan has been forced to play second fiddle.
Blanc’s bespoke 4-3-3 formation only allows for one central striker and as such Cavani has been forced to play out of position in wide areas when Ibrahimovic has been available.
Despite still offering an attacking threat, this tactical tweak has inhibited the former Napoli hitman’s predatory nature – perfectly illustrated by Cavani’s strong run of form as the side’s central striker earlier this season when Ibrahimović was injured.
Lavezzi has struggled to pin down a regular starting role in the side since making the switch to France, with Lucas Moura an almost guaranteed starter on one flank and the Argentine left to battle compatriot Javier Pastore and Cavani for a berth on the other wing.
There is no doubt that when everyone is available Lavezzi is generally on the bench and as such he has been unable to build up momentum; the Rosario-born forward has only started eight Ligue 1 games this term.
That said, despite Ibrahimović returning from injury to resume as the side’s attacking focal point, the combined qualities and pedigree of Cavani and Lavezzi are substantial enough for PSG to miss the duo in their absence.
With PSG still in four competitions and fatigue sure to take its toll on the squad, having the outcast duo to call upon again could well prove the difference.
Blanc has proven his point that indiscretions will not be accepted at the club; it is now time to reintroduce the gifted South American pair, as the Ligue 1 title race is going to be a lot closer than was expected before the campaign started.
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