PSG 2-1 Porto – On Pastore playing on the left & the movement of Porto’s front three.

Both these sides had already booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League but top spot was up for grabs in this final Group A match Tuesday night in Paris.

For the home side it presented them with an opportunity to turn the corner. Carlo Ancelotti’s future was reportedly on the line entering the game after picking up just 4pts from their last 5 league matches and the biggest surprise in his team selection was the omissions of Nene and Marco Verratti.

football formations

Porto boss Vitor Pereira insisted his side were in Paris to win the group and brought back many of his regulars after resting them last Friday in the domestic cup loss to Braga.

football formations

PSG use Menez, Lavezzi and Maxwell to get more width early on

A big part of PSG’s problems this season has been how narrow they have played. They have struggled to create chances in wide areas mainly because of the amount of central players Ancelotti has tried to feature in the side. In this match there was a clear indication from the start that the home team would stretch the play, particularly down the right side. The inclusion of Lavezzi from the start occupied Alex Sandro and Jeremy Menez alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic offers a lot more than the standard striker normally would. The French international worked very hard with regular lateral runs that confused the defenders and it was no surprise that it was the former Roma man who got the beating of Nicolas Otamendi in the 29th minute, winning a free kick that led to the goal.

Porto struggle to defend set pieces 

PSG’s improvement in wide areas helped them get nine corners in the first half alone. Porto struggled to defend these and once again failed to get a commanding clearance on Maxwell’s free kick which was brilliantly headed home by Thiago Silva in the 29th minute.

Brilliant movement from Porto’s front three – a lesson for any team playing this system

It would prove to not be Porto’s evening but their front three still had an excellent night. Jackson Martinez, who would score an equalizer just four minutes after Silva’s header, was an excellent reference point centrally but showed signs of his versatility by occasionally moving left to allow James Rodriguez to get into the game. James is a very intelligent player who loves to come deep and when he did he had the luxury of Jackson to his left and Varela to his right. All three started the way the graphic above shows but interchanged brilliantly and never made their team too narrow because they occupied opposing full backs and helped their own full backs get forward.

The Pastore Project continues

The placement of Javier Pastore on the left was a strange one and at first seemed like a way of just getting the playmaker on the pitch. The Argentine rarely got forward beyond Danilo, coming narrower into his comfort zone, and therefore Maxwell had to be the one to get forward and bring width to the left. The PSG left back did this regularly early until Danilo played a huge part in the equalizer and forced him deeper. The goal wasn’t a good one for Pastore who allowed Danilo to easily get by him before sending in a cross for Jackson Martinez to poke home.

Despite the setback, Ancelotti stuck with Pastore as a left midfielder for the majority of the game (even when they went 4-1-4-1 when Verratti replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi) with a 2-1 lead and he seemed to grow in confidence in his battle against the forward-thinking Danilo. Clearly Pastore is suited to being a central player and looked at his best when he did play two long balls from central areas for Menez to successfully run on to. However, despite the defensive issues against Danilo, the placement of the Argentine helped PSG on the counter. With Danilo enjoying the freedom of the flank, he often would leave gaps behind him and when the play broke up the first man to start the counter was Pastore, which given his intelligence and passing ability makes sense.

In the 51st minute he broke immediately in this fashion with Menez and the pair intelligently worked a 1-2 around the impressive Nicolas Otamendi only for Helton to palm away Menez’s effort. Having Pastore play left, but not hugging the touchline, also helps PSG fall into a 4-3-3 with the ball with Lavezzi running on and Menez tucking left. Pastore can then feel comfortable joining the attack centrally, which is what happened late in the game when he had an excellent volley saved by Helton. Zlatan Ibrahimovic should have scored on the rebound, one of three really good chances he missed on a quiet night for the Swede.

Helton’s howler hands PSG the group

It was a real shame that an excellent football match was decided by a shocking goalkeeping error as Helton allowed Lavezzi’s shot underneath him at the near post. Helton, who is clearly Porto’s weak link, cost his side top spot in the group and now gives them a chance to meet the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United or Borussia Dortmund in the last 16. For PSG it was the slice of luck they needed and although they are far from the finished article they now have a real good shot at a Champions League quarter final, particularly if they can avoid Real Madrid and keep Javier Pastore confident. He remains a very key figure, no matter where they decide to play him.

Kristian Jack

23 comments on “PSG 2-1 Porto – On Pastore playing on the left & the movement of Porto’s front three.

  1. first thing first , I`m lovin the blog; I dare say its a bit Zonal Markingesque but in a complementary way.

    Porto`s front three were brilliant as you’ve said, but I felt that PSG could`ve done a lot more to take advantage of the Brazilian full backs. With Pastore’s incisive passing, and Menez’s pace on the counter plus his versatility on either flank, I felt that the two should`ve interchanged with Menez out wide and Pastore alongside Lavezzi playing in behind Ibra. That way maybe Danilo`s runs would`ve been less effective.

    I just wanted to know whats your take on Ancellotti sticking to his “narrow” midfield five, considering the fact that it did bring success.
    http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/01/22/teams-of-the-decade-14-milan-2002-07/
    Is it why his Milan side couldn`t replicate the level of dominance in serie A, that they would show in Europe?

    You couldn`t go worng with Cruyff, not avin Beckenbauer…. God damn Germans !!!

    Thank you for this post and good luck 😀

    • Thanks for the kind words and best wishes, no one can do what Michael does with Zonal Marking – I will just try and be me.

      Carlo likes his team narrow but of course that brings challenges. I think there is a search for width in all areas of the world these days on the pitch but that has gotten away from what matters centrally and I think that’s something CA wont forget.

  2. Pingback: Valencia 1-2 PSG – A masterful away performance for 89 minutes is followed by 3 minutes of madness. | 4231dotcom

  3. Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a
    good article? but what can I say? I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get nearly anything
    done.

  4. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and
    checking back frequently!

  5. Howdy, i ‘m a blogger like you, and was wondering if you ever experimented with those addthis.com like this buttons and if they are any good. I realized they load a bunch of code, so i am confused if its really worth adding them, due the quite a bit raise of KB of the total filesize. Have you ever give it a shot? I am very interested to hear what you think about that? Please sent me a message to sherridowdy@gmail.com if you have any working experience with those add-ons. Thx .. btw, luv your site ever since!

  6. Hi there. I’m sorry to bother you but I ran across your blogging site and discovered you happen to be using the exact same template as me. The only issue is on my site, I’m unable to get the theme
    looking like yours. Would you mind contacting me at: norman_mullis@gmail.

    com so I can get this figured out. By the way I’ve bookmarked your web page: http://4-2-3-1.com/2012/12/04/psg-2-1-porto-on-pastore-playing-on-the-left-the-movement-of-portos-front-three/comment-page-1/ and will be visiting frequently. With thanks!

  7. Gday! This is the fourth time visiting now and I really just wanted to say I truley get pleasure
    from reading through your weblog. I’ve decided to bookmark it at reddit.com with the title: PSG 2-1 Porto and your Website address: http://4-2-3-1.com/2012/12/04/psg-2-1-porto-on-pastore-playing-on-the-left-the-movement-of-portos-front-three/comment-page-1/. I hope this is okay with you, I’m making an
    attempt to give your excellent blog a bit more visibility.
    Be back shortly.

  8. I’m curious to find out what blog system you are utilizing? I’m experiencing some small security problems with my latest website and I
    would like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any suggestions?

  9. Whatever your specialty or favored photographic genre may be,
    photogenic scenes, people, places and ideas are all around
    you almost constantly. Take the low-carb tortilla or wrap and put about a tablespoon or two of cream on
    it. Sprinkle white pepper, curry and a touch spicy seasoning onto the paper plate.

  10. Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my subscribers would value your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

  11. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post
    seem to be running off the screen in Chrome. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.

    The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon.
    Many thanks

  12. I share this story so you might give your brand-new fledgling band some time to get off
    the ground. Reverse raffle users have gained as
    much as $7,500 in profits because of their charities,
    this also type of raffle uses the raffle ticket sales to
    determine the grand prize. As probably the most pre-ordered single of all time for
    Sony Music Entertainment, “What Makes You Beautiful”
    also made them a top UK group.

  13. Hey thewre just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I thiink its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same
    results.

  14. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to
    this blog before but after going through some of the posts I realized
    it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon
    it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

  15. It’s truly a nice and helpful piece of info.
    I am glad that you shared this helpful info with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting too know your situation; we have developed some nice methods and we are looking to trade methods
    with others, please shoot me an email if interested.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s