Saturday, July 20, 2024

Bradley Barcola’s red card threatens emergence as influential piece after PSG’s draw with Brest

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PARIS — It has been a decent start to 2024 so far for Paris Saint-Germain with four wins from a possible five across all competitions and a healthy goals return, not to mention progress in the Coupe de France and a six-point lead at the top of Ligue 1. Luis Enrique’s men have scored 19 goals since the turn of the year and conceded just three with the latest point coming at Parc des Princes on Sunday with a 2-2 draw with surprise package Stade Brestois 29 thanks to Marco Asensio and Randal Kolo Muani’s first-half goals.

Danilo Pereira’s own goal in the second 45 and Mathias Pereira Lage’s equalizer took some of the shine off of a pulsating draw with the third-placed team in France’s topflight but what was particularly notable was that it is part of a 13-game unbeaten run which started last November. On top of that, it came without Ousmane Dembele in the starting XI and with Bradley Barcola playing a key role having finally been afforded regular minutes in recent weeks as Les Parisiens seek to improve their attacking chemistry.

Asensio opened the scoring against Brest with a fine finish from an excellent Barcola assist before Kolo Muani scrambled the ball home when it looked as if it was an own goal — something which was in no doubt in the second half as Danilo diverted the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma. Barcola, though, has been emerging as an influential figure in PSG’s attack these past few weeks and Luis Enrique now has a bit more of a headache in terms of his ideal attacking lineup given the Frenchman’s impressive showings alongside star man Kylian Mbappe.

After a superb goal in the 2-0 win away at RC Lens, the former Olympique Lyonnais man followed it up with an excellent assist here which keeps his trajectory moving upwards ahead of a key part of the season with the UEFA Champions League returning in just over a fortnight. Goncalo Ramos has well and truly lost out for now compared with the likes of Mbappe, Dembele, Kolo Muani, Asensio and now Barcola in the attacking hierarchy but the 21-year-old’s claims for breaking into the starting XI for the biggest games took a hit with a late red card in Paris this weekend.

Dembele has been influential without being decisive on one goal and six assists across all competitions while Asensio’s return of three goals and one assist has been good considering how long he spent injured compared with Kolo Muani’s seven goals and two assists from more minutes. Barcola’s three goals and two assists — albeit only in Ligue 1 for now — have come from fewer opportunities but are in-line with his impact on earlier games which was only missing a goal or two such as his cameo at home to Newcastle United in the Champions League.

Ultimately, Brest denied PSG the win through Pereira Lage and that lapse should be cause for concern but there were mitigating circumstances with Marquinhos unexpectedly out injured for the start and Milan Skriniar hurt in the home defense with Lucas Hernandez picking up a ban now too. Going forward, though, Barcola had stepped up and contributed as he was expected to upon arrival from Lyon ahead of Les Parisiens coming into a key part of the season when they will be tested by the likes of Lille OSC, Real Sociedad, Stade Rennais and AS Monaco — he will be missed.

Barcola’s impact upon that run is now in doubt after this dismissal which could see him miss the Coupe de France clash against the same Brest side in the round of 16 who PSG will not underestimate now after throwing away the points here. Perhaps the Frenchman’s red card will open the door to the likes of Ramos to play his way back into Luis Enrique’s plans which would really give the Spanish tactician a headache in the weeks to come.

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