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International Soccer
By Brian Wright, Soccer Editor - Archive - Email
Sputtering PSG needs to step it up
Edinson Cavani Through nine Ligue 1 matches, PSG finds itself in third place in the table with 15 points.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The French top flight, Ligue 1, is nestled safely into a corner of the world football spectrum where most observers fail to look.

It certainly doesn't garner the kind of attention that other league get, La Liga in Spain and the Premier League in England are certainly much bigger draws than Ligue 1.

But since the Qatar Sports Investments group took majority ownership in 2011, Paris Saint-Germain has been trying to make its major European breakthrough and in the process make Ligue 1 a force on the European scene.

Armed with seemingly limitless bags of money, the club has called in the cavalry by acquiring several high-priced players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Javier Pastore, Lucas, Yohan Cabaye, David Luiz and David Beckham over the past few seasons.

By in large, these high-priced maneuvers have paid off as the club has won each of the last two league titles under high-profile managers Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc.

With the domestic campaign seemingly under control, PSG's goal this season is to make a bigger European footprint by advancing farther in the Champions League.

They were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Chelsea last season, but focusing so much energy on advancing past that stage has forced some questions to be asked in league play this season.

Through nine Ligue 1 matches, PSG finds itself in third place in the table with 15 points, seven behind Marseille for the top spot.

Being in third place in early October is certainly no reason to mash the panic button, especially since the club has yet to lose, but what is disconcerting is the way in which they have dropped points.

For a club that has aspirations to become a dominant force in Europe, and the payroll and flashy names in the squad to backup those lofty goals, PSG has looked remarkably shaky in league play against mostly subpar competition.

Les Rouge et Bleu opened their league campaign back in early August with a 2-2 draw with Reims, and the club need a pair of goals from Ibrahimovic to claim a point.

Blanc's men earned their first victory of the league season in match day 2, a 2-0 win over Bastia, but followed it up with a tame scoreless draw against Evian.

The club's best performance in domestic play early in the season came in a 5-0 thrashing of Saint Etienne on Aug. 31 which saw Ibrahimovic score a hat trick, but they followed it up with a 1-1 draw against Rennes and a another draw against Lyon on Sept. 21 in which Cavani gave PSG the lead after 20 minutes, but Lyon grabbed a later equalizer.

They claimed their third win over newly promoted Caen on Sept. 24, but were again unable to carry over the momentum and were forced to settle for a point in a 1-1 stalemate with Toulouse.

Sunday's match against fellow big-spender Monaco continued the harrowing trend of underperforming and defensive mistakes as the capital club was again forced to settle for one point in a 1-1 draw on home soil at the Parc des Princes.

Lucas put the home side in front after 71 minutes, but a defensive mistake deep in stoppage time allowed Anthony Martial to fire home an equalizer.

Granted, Blanc's side was at less then full strength with Ibrahimovic and captain Thiago Silva out of the lineup, but even so, a team with the talent of PSG should have little trouble winning games.

But right now, that winning isn't happening and if it continues, Blanc may find himself without a job.

The club certainly has plenty of time to make up the seven-point gap, but it has to step it up soon and start concentrating more on league matches rather than just Champions League fixtures.

Their status as a potential European powerhouse may depend on it.

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