Old Futbol Buffet–Paris $aint-£ermain kicks off

So it was a Saturday in early August and my desire for footy, not satisfied by pre-season friendlies and testimonials, took hold of me. I checked the match program for the day to see what was on offer. PSG (4th last season) versus Lorient (11th) from Ligue 1 jumped out at me due to PSG splashing the cash this summer, so off to the bar I went.

I usually avoid French football. Nothing against them, but for the dozen or so games I’ve watched, start to finish, over the last two or three seasons, I can count the total number of goals on one hand and have fingers left over. But I wanted to see the new look PSG and see what their Qatari money had bought them.

Here’s a list of their 2011 summer signings:

Malian midfielder Mohamed Sissoko from Juventus for a fee of €7m (not fit)  YEAH!!! Juve finally got rid of him
Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu from Palermo for a fee of €3.5m (played)
Midfielder Blaise Matuidi from Saint-Etienne for a fee of €10m (played)
Midfielder Jeremy Menez from Roma for a fee of €8m (played)  Imagine if Dr. House and Clint Dempsey had a kid.
Serbian defender Milan Bisevac from Valenciennes for a fee of €3.5m (played)
Forward Kevin Gameiro from Lorient for a fee of €11m (played)
Goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez on a free transfer from Rennes (injured)

Plus Javier Pastore from Palermo, which was finalized over the weekend.

In doing a little research for the game, Lorient was busy too this summer, adding . . .

Argentinean defender Lucas Mareque on a free transfer from Independiente
Forward Jeremie Aliadiere on a free transfer (substitue)  remember him, EPL fans?
Forward Tristan Do on a free transfer from Strasbourg
Midfielder Kevin Monnet-Paquet from Lens for a fee of €3m (played)
Malian midfielder Adama Toure on a free transfer from Paris St. Germain
Midfielder Julien Quercia on a free transfer from Auxerre (played)
Midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur from Monaco for a fee of €2m (played)
Portuguese defender Pedrinho on a free transfer from Coimbra (played)
Goalkeeper Florent Chaigneau on a free transfer from Le Poire sur Vie

The match kicked off to a fast and frenetic start with both teams in high gear on a slippery surface. The first half was end to end stuff with Lorient having a little better of the play, and they were rewarded in the 28th minute. PSG captain Sakho, who had a terrible first half (and game to be honest), committed an unnecessary foul in the right hand channel outside the box. Jouffre whipped in a cross and the PSG rearguard fell asleep, allowing Quercia—who was very active in the opening period, causing a lot of problems—to score. Nene had a chance to equalize but put his chip over the bar. The first half petered out with the visitors on top.

PSG took the game to Lorient right from the second half whistle. However their energy and intensity produced very little in the final third, with poor crossing and the attackers not in sync. Striker Gameiro did very little against the club he left this summer. Lorient actually had a chance to double their lead when Mvuemba hit the crossbar. With 15 minutes to go, the hosts squared the ball across the net but no one was home. Quercia was a total nonfactor in the second half, barely touching the ball and was finally subbed with 13 minutes to go. PSG continued to huff and puff, but the final whistle blew and the PSQatar era started with a loss.

If I’m the PSG coaching staff, I’m working on three things: set pieces (service rarely beat the first defender), getting the attackers on the same page, and finding a replacement for Sakho. The team from the capital have Olympiacos Volou FC in the Europa League playoff round between upcoming fixtures against Rennes and Valenciennes

After the French game I flipped over to the second half of FC Barcelona against Club America at Cowboy Stadium. I had read on my twitter feed that the Blaugrana had started with a strong lineup (basically all the starters except Messi) and that Villa had scored. When I tuned in, the first thing I saw was that Glenn Davis was doing the game and I’m glad the TV at the bar was on mute. Really dislike him as a commentator. Xavi went out at halftime and Barca were below their usual high standards, knocking the ball around but sloppily and had very little of the flow we are accustomed to seeing. Thiago had a ridiculous back pass that almost led to Club America scoring and then Valdez had to do a karate kick to save Barcelona moments later.

I was not being entertained so I left with 20 minutes to go, and I read later that Keita sealed the game. I know these games are just friendlies, but based on them (playing well but getting beaten by United; getting thrashed by Chivas; really not playing well against Club America) I am getting a little worried about the Super Cup and the start of the season.

As for Sunday, I might try to catch a replay of the Community Shield but I’m not going to lose sleep if don’t. The transfer rumors continue to swirl, particularly around Fabregas, Sneijder, Tevez and Adebayor, plus Lukaku is moving to Chelsea. But the most important thing of the weekend is that competitive football is being played.

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