A focus on Alessandro Florenzi's debut
For his first match in the capital, the new Parisian player had to come to terms with a supercharged encounter.
Sometimes things don't happen as planned. On Sunday evening, Paris Saint-Germain lost to Olympique de Marseille, despite dominating the game and having a plethora of chances, ones they were unable to take (0-1).
For his first match in the Rouge et Bleu shirt, the Italian international had to dive straight into the boiling atmosphere of a classique. He became the first Paris player to make his Ligue 1 debut against Marseille since David Beckham on February 24 2013.
A match without respite, of very high intensity and an electric atmosphere: that's what was on the menu for his first dinner in the capital. And visibly the former Giallorosso was hungry. A starter at right-back as part of a back four in the 4-3-3, the n°24 showed up well, fitting seamlessly into Thomas Tuchel's plans.
"His arrival gives us a lot of tactical possibilities. The idea is not to change our tactics with his arrival, but to improve our team, that he adapts to us and helps us. I really hope we'll be able to see the Florenzi of Roma, where he was one of the best players in his position in Serie A for a number of years," the coach said in his pre-match press conference the day before the game, speaking about the versatility of his new recruit, used to fitting into systems in Italian football.
And the right-back ticked all the boxes when it came to the game. Defensively, he had the tough task of holding the fort on the right flank against the duo of Payet and Amavi. Florenzi ran hard and harried the ball carrier and his desire was backed up by the statistics, showing 2 tackles made and 3 balls won.
In attack, he needed to find space in order to supply Di Maria - Neymar Jr – Sarabia with dangerous balls. A challenge he lived up to as the player who provided the most crosses (9), with 5 of them successful, more than any of the other players out there on the pitch.
A real detonator in the Marseille penalty box, he played a number of balls that kickstarted dangerous moves, like his superb ball for Pablo Sarabia, who took his chance before being stopped by Steve Mandanda (61').
On paper, he supplied 5 final passes leading to a Paris shot, the highest number of anybody on the field for the game. Put otherwise, he maximised his crossing ability and had a ratio of 93% successful passes.
Physically as well, the player who signed his Paris Saint-Germain contract two days before the classique was up to speed. In 84 minutes on the field, he covered the length and the breadth of the pitch, alternating with combinations in small spaces, one-touch play and raids deep into opposition territory. Anticipation, thrusts into the Marseille half and always making the extra man: qualities that act as a reminder of those of his colleague on the other side of the pitch, left-back Juan Bernat.
Finally, when it comes to his spirit, Thomas Tuchel had seen it coming: "I like his mentality and his energy on the pitch."
In an electric game, one missing the voices of more than 40,000 supporters, Florenzi gave everything at all times. And after the match he had a little word for all lovers of the capital club.
Merci Paris pour ton accueil et ta chaleur: être ici est un grand honneur! Déçu du résultat mais il faut se relever rapidement et penser déjà à la prochaine bataille!✊🏼🔴🔵 #PSGOM pic.twitter.com/JjdusUxFeB— Alessandro Florenzi (@Florenzi) September 13, 2020
After more than a decade at Roma, the 29-year-old made a convincing start to life in the City of Lights: "I'm very happy with the performance of Florenzi. He hadn't trained much and he covered a lot of ground," concluded Thomas Tuchel after the game. It now remains for him to combine his individual sparks with the team's fireworks.