It’s very odd for a team to be so far clear at the top of their league and yet deliver underwhelming performances more often than they impress.
Things nearly fell apart for Paris Saint-Germain during a very ordinary first half display against Saint-Etienne on Sunday afternoon. Their attacking stars looked lethargic as their hosts frustrated them, while their defenders seemed to be wrong-footed far too often by the opposing forwards’ clever movement and footwork.
It’s taken until the chilly winter months filled with snow around Europe for us to get a glimpse of Sergio Ramos in a PSG shirt. He’s now finally made his debut for the French giants, looking a little rusty upon his return from injury.
That’s perhaps to be expected, given the Spanish legend hasn’t played since a May Champions League tie at Chelsea earlier this year, but he certainly looked a little stunned and taken aback by the intensity of the Ligue 1 clash.
The game did seem to pass him by and Ramos was arguably lucky that his side got to play with a player advantage after Timothee Kolodziejczak was rather harshly sent off.
That dismissal allowed PSG to enjoy most of the possession and exert more authority over the contest, but even then the lively Denis Bouanga made both Ramos and Marquinhos look uncomfortable with his tricky running, having had the confidence boost of scoring earlier in the piece.
Ramos simply didn’t look fit. At 35 years of age after such an annoying injury which has kept him sidelined, he has some doubters to prove wrong.
His numbers during the game were good, in fairness. He completed 94% of his passes, had 110 touches of the ball, made a couple of interceptions and won five of his eight duels. It wasn’t easy and a fair few times Ramos looked troubled, but for a first game back, he can be relatively happy with the part he played in the 3-1 win.
His return will still need to be managed properly. PSG host Nice on Wednesday and it would be wise for Mauricio Pochettino to draft Presnel Kimpembe back into the starting lineup alongside Marquinhos to avoid any risk of further injuries to Ramos.
It was certainly jarring to see Ramos not only line up alongside Lionel Messi, but the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. One does not envy Pochettino and how he should look to get the best out of his band of megastars, given how awkward they’ve looked at points this season especially in the Champions League.
Ramos has finally got the debut duck off his back, and while it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the former Real Madrid defender, he’ll be happy to have got through it unscathed.
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