Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain began a long, grueling winter stretch with a 2-0 away victory over Sergio Conceicao’s FC Nantes. Edinson Cavani continued his season-long scoring tear, recording a brace in the 21st and 65th minutes to lead PSG to a massive win ahead of their Coupe De La Ligue semifinal clash with Jocelyn Gourvennec’s Girondins de Bordeaux. The win also puts pressure on Lucien Favre’s OGC Nice and Leonardo Jardim’s AS Monaco to keep pace. Monaco and Paris clash in next week’s blockbuster tie.
PSG dominated a number of key statistics, including possession (56.6% to 43.4%), shots (15 to seven), shots on target (five to zero), successful pases (85.4% to 80.2%) and passes (506 to 373). Nantes had more corners (six to five) but all were negated by a PSG defense that stood on its collective heads and rose to the occasion. Cavani now has 20 goals in 21 matches and is on pace to eclipse the season bests of Carlos Bianchi and former teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“We knew we were in for a very difficult match, because Nantes were in a good spell and are very strong at home,” said Emery. “We showed great control. We played with personality and serenity. When we escape the pressing, we can score, the first goal showed that. The match against Monaco? First, there is the Coupe de la Ligue semi-final against Bordeaux, which is important. We have to prepare well. Draxler’s injury? I don’t think it’s serious. I hope it’s just a knock.”
“Nantes showed a lot of determination from the start of the game,” Meunier told beIN SPORTS 1. “They put us under pressure without really managing to be dangerous. We had a team that really wanted it up against us. Little-by-little, we took charge of things as a great team does. Defensively, we were solid and took advantage of counter-attacks. We had chances, we put two of them away. It was a super Paris Saint-Germain today.”
“I think since the start of the year we have really taken a step up in terms of our play and our unity,” Hatem Ben Arfa told Canal+. “We’re more compact going forward and at the back. We’re ready for the matches against Monaco and Barcelona and for what comes after that. The defeat to Guingamp hurt us, but it also kickstarted us. Since then, we’ve been more dominant, more focussed, more unified. Playing centre-forward? It suits me, no problem! I’m not as good as Cavani, but I’m improving. The coach thinks I can do well in that position. If I can help the team, I’ll do it with pleasure.”
“Above all it’s a good evening because we came here to win,” Cavani added. “It’s a good victory that will give us more confidence. There are still a lot of games, but we’re on the right track, that which we want to take to have a good end to the season. My PB? It’s good for my confidence, because forwards live to score goals. Scoring is my job. I have to help the team, so I’m happy, and I hope I can keep it going.”