Paris Saint Germain eased to a 3-0 win against Benfica in their Champion’s League group game on Wednesday. Beyond the score, it’s the way that Laurent Blanc‘s men played that impressed all Europe and no doubt that many are now seeing the French Champions as legitimate Champion’s League contenders.
This was arguably PSG’s best performance of the season and one of the rare games they controlled from beginning to end.
Looking at PSG’s squad, it’s very difficult to find any weakness. Salvatore Sirigu is in his third season in the French Capital and is, along with Steve Mandanda, the best goalkeeper in Ligue 1. In central defense, Thiago Silva and Alex (or Marquinhos) form one of the best partnerships in Europe. The veteran Zoumana Camara (34-years old) is the fourth option.
Maxwell, freshly called-up by Scolari in Brazil’s squad, is the best left-back in France and is ahead of the recent U20 World Champion Lucas Digne in Blanc’s mind. On the right, Gregory Van Der Wiel has gone ahead of Christophe Jallet in the pecking order. After a very difficult first season in 2012-2013, the Dutchman is playing the soccer that made him the Netherlands’ first choice right-back at the last World Cup.
He was rewarded by Louis Van Gaal with a recall in the Netherlands squad for October’s World Cup qualifying games against Hungary and Turkey. The only concern PSG have at the moment in the back is Thiago Silva’s fitness. The Brazilian central defender was subbed out of their Ligue 1 clash against Monaco on September 22 and will miss the next 4-6 weeks. If they can keep Silva fit, the Parisians will go far in the competition.
In midfield, Thiago Motta (defensive midfielder) seems to have put his fitness issues behind him. The Italian international featured in only 14 games last season and was really missed at times. He’s the most experienced player in midfield and the only one in the squad to have ever won the Champion’s League (in 2010 with Inter) .
Blaise Matuidi (left central midfielder) was the most used PSG player last season (52 games last season) and is very likely to do the same this season. He’s without a shadow of a doubt the best box-to-box midfielder in Ligue 1. His energy, passing accuracy and ability to adapt to different formations make him irreplaceable.
The young Italian Marco Verratti (right central midfielder) has now established himself as PSG’s third midfielder after Javier Pastore failed to make an impact since Laurent Blanc switched to a 4-3-3.The youngster Adrien Rabiot (18-years-old) seems to be too inexperienced at the moment to be contending for a starting spot.
Upfront is where the Parisians seem to be the strongest. They have got plenty of options with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the main striker flanked by Edinson Cavani on the right and Ezequiel Lavezzi on the left. Hervin Ongenda, who impressed for his first league start at Bordeaux three weeks ago, is an option as well.
Laurent Blanc is a lucky manager. He’s got a squad that many managers would love to have at their disposal. PSG are now a respected team in Europe, but there are still a few questions to be answered about them. Can Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic play together in the 4-3-3? Can Thiago Motta and Thiago Silva stay fit the whole season?
The answers to those questions will tell us whether or not the French Champions have a chance of lifting the trophy in May in Lisbon.