Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti lead way for PSG vs. Wasquehal
Defending Coupe de France champions Paris Saint-Germain successfully launched their title defence with a 1-0 win away at ES Wasquehal in the round of 64 on Sunday.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the only goal of the game after an hour, but aside from the obvious positive of advancing to the next round, it was a poor afternoon for Laurent Blanc's men in northern France.
With no fewer than eight regular starters left at home in Paris for Les Parisiens' journey to the Stadium Lille Metropole, it was unsurprising that Le President named an experimental starting XI in Villeneuve-d'Ascq. However, even at less than half-strength, PSG should still have disposed of their brave fourth-tier opponents with greater ease than they actually did.
By the time Ibrahimovic found the back of the net with a header from Marco Verratti's lofted ball forward, the Swede should have already scored once and Jean-Kevin Augustin should have added another two.
Blanc suggested earlier in the season that the Coupe de France is not one of the capital club's priorities this season because of its proximity in the domestic calendar to latter stage UEFA Champions League games. Should the Ligue 1 leaders emulate their disinterested Wasquehal display in the round of 32 against slightly better opposition, they are likely to find themselves on the receiving end of a cup upset.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Salvatore Sirigu, 5 -- It was a quiet afternoon for the Italy international and he spent most of the second half stretching to keep warm, such was Wasquehal's inability to test him. The 28-year-old made a few saves in the first 45, but he was largely untroubled -- with the exception of flapping at one corner.
DF Serge Aurier, 4 -- The Ivory Coast international endured a poor afternoon. Wasted passes and over-hit crosses punctuated the 23-year-old's disappointing 90-minute run out.
DF Thiago Motta, 5 -- Started as a makeshift central defender because of the absences of captain Thiago Silva and David Luiz, as well as Blanc's decision to start a travel-weary Marquinhos on the bench. The Italian was calm alongside young Presnel Kimpembe.
DF Presnel Kimpembe, 5 -- The youth academy graduate looked unsure of himself in the first half, but grew in confidence as the match progressed. At just 20 years old, the France under-21 international needs more Coupe de France starts to continue his development.
DF Layvin Kurzawa, 5 -- Aside from a few forays forward, it was an opportunity missed for the Frenchman. The 23-year-old provided an excellent cross for Ibrahimovic in the first half, but the Swede spurned it and Kurzawa did little otherwise to worry regular starting left-back Maxwell.
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MF Adrien Rabiot, 4 -- Apart from one excellent ball into the box to find Augustin for a chance that the young attacker should have volleyed home, the France under-21 international was extremely disappointing. The 20-year-old was guilty of a number of sloppy touches and poor passes.
MF Benjamin Stambouli, 4 -- In a game in which he really should have impressed, the Frenchman was very poor. Muscled off the ball too easily on a number of occasions, greater fight and hunger is expected of the former Tottenham man when he gets a rare starting appearance.
MF Marco Verratti, 7 -- As is often the case, whether PSG are impressive or not, the Italy international was their star man. Not at his very best, but still superior to most of his teammates on the day, the 23-year-old was attempting defence-splitting balls over the top for most of the game. It finally worked out for Verratti after an hour; his lofted pass forward provided Ibrahimovic's headed goal.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 5 -- Energetic as always, the France international suffered because of Blanc's rotation in midfield. A rare change in formation (4-3-3 to a flat 4-4-2) required greater work from the 28-year-old out wide. Matuidi gave it everything, as usual, but the mess created by Rabiot and Stambouli was too often a distraction during his 80 minutes on the pitch.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 6 -- Ultimately PSG's match winner, it was still far from the Swedish superstar's best display this season. The 34-year-old missed a great first half chance from a Kurzawa cross, but did go close to atoning for that wasted chance with a good effort from distance. Ibrahimovic eventually scored with his head from a Verratti pass, but he was too profligate overall.
FW Jean-Kevin Augustin, 3 -- Coming into the Wasquehal game on the back of his goal in the 1-0 friendly win over Inter Milan in Doha earlier in the week, the young Frenchman passed up a golden chance to impress. Understandably keen to catch the eye, the 18-year-old missed two very good and simple chances, while selfishness prevented him from making up for those wasted openings when he went alone with Ibrahimovic in space late on.
MF Lucas Moura, 5 -- Brought on after 58 minutes for the disappointing Rabiot, the Brazil international tried his luck with a few shots but was generally ineffective.
MF Marquinhos, NR -- Introduced in place of Matuidi after 80 minutes, the Brazil international did not have enough time to impress in one of his secondary positions.
Jonathan Johnson is based in Paris and the voice of PSG TV. He also writes for French Football Weekly. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.