Javier Pastore's inconsistent form, health the ultimate 'what if' for PSG
The Ligue 1 title race turned into a two-horse race this weekend, as Nice dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Nantes. Monaco carried on where it left off after beating Manchester City, swatting Caen 3-0 with another two goals by the in-form Kylian Mbappe. And so it fell to PSG to keep in touch with Ligue 1 leader Monaco, in Sunday's big game against Europa League quarterfinalist Lyon.
Lyon started on top and took an early lead through the in-form Alexandre Lacazette. But in a six-minute spell, PSG turned it around, with Adrien Rabiot and Julian Draxler scoring for the host. Javier Pastore was the creator for both goals, and it was his performance that really stood out.
One of the key signings from the Leonardo era, the Argentine sometimes flatters to deceive, and his key moments are all too infrequent. When he plays like this, though, the questions about his physique (he’s often injured), and mentality (often questioned) are forgotten. Pastore missed three months of the season and this was his fifth consecutive league start. Unai Emery played him as the No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 with the freedom to drift and play between the lines. It worked.
“I like playing in this position and I had a good game. I’m glad we won,” he told Canal Plus after the game. “I feel responsible because I have not played many games this year, I want to help the team.”
PSG is still breathing down Monaco’s neck, only three points back and with the leader facing Borussia Dortmund in a tough Champions League quarterfinal series next month. All of that leads to the thinking that PSG can overhaul Monaco if Pastore keeps up this form. Since his return in February, Pastore has played eight games and PSG has won all of them, which all begs the question: if Pastore had been picked against Barcelona, and had played anything like this, then would PSG have avoided the 6-1 defeat and ouster that still haunts the club?