Aventuras Américas | Part 78 | PSG #2: Putting Faith In Youth

Robinho Lazaró was far from impressed with the old players at his disposal in his first six months as Paris Saint-Germain. So the Colombian manager initiated an earlier than expected player exodus in January 2064.

He moved on seven oldies for a profit of nearly £50 million, including selling both the captain and vice-captain. It also included moving on three 34-year-olds in goalkeeper Benjamin Luque going to Dortmund for a huge £26.5 million, winger Alexandre Camilo moving to Besiktas for £6.75 million and centre-back Jérémy Sorin going to Porto for £7.75 million.

In their place came exciting full-back Silva for £13 million from Cruzeiro and left-winger Alejandro Tobon for £1 million from Lazaró’s former club América de Cali. They also added midfield strength with 20-year-old Noel Rosado for £5 million from Cádiz and promising centre-back Iker Alcalde for £12.25 million from Eibar. Then, on deadline day, they snapped up another exciting striker in 18-year-old Emre Ayyildiz for £15 million rising to £30 million from Fenerbahce. As a result, the PSG average squad age was slashed to just 21.7 and the club’s wage spending was slashed to under £1.4 million, leaving over £1 million spare.

With the massive turnover, Lazaró also changed his approach to an unusual looking 4-3-3 / 4-4-2 with a holding midfielder and a left winger. That was largely as they didn’t have a right-winger, Ronaldo Cueto can only play left-wing and he wanted to play both hot prospect strikers Juan Ruiz and Emre.

Coupe de France run

PSG began 2064 with a new club record high-scoring game as they won 10-0 in the cup at Bourges Foot 18 led by a Ruiz hat-trick. They then defeated Concarneau 2-1 and Bordeaux 2-0 to reach the Coupe de France semi-finals. The semis saw PSG entertain Montpellier and Ruiz and a 20-minute Cueto hat-trick earned a 4-1 win to send them into the cup final!

Can Lazaró’s young guns shine?

Heading into the second half of the season, Lazaró was a little nervous and under plenty of pressure given his decision to replace seasoned internationals with kids. They began the new year with a huge game as rivals Rennes came to town and the young charges did well to earn a 1-1 draw. Then 18-year-old goalkeeper Jaílson Marcelino kept his first league clean sheets in 0-0s at Lens and Strasbourg.

Speaking of 18-year-olds, Ruiz scored twice and Emre scored and was player of the match on his league debut in a 3-0 win at home to Troyes. Ruiz then scored the only goal at Saint-Étienne to lift PSG into the top four for the first time in three months. That sent PSG into a big game at home to Marseille on a 13-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, which they extended as a Jan Mares goal and solid defensive efforts earned an undeserved point.

That run continued as they defeated Nantes 3-1 away, with goals by centre-back Driss Djorkaeff, Mares and Cueto, hammered Lorient 4-1 thanks to Cueto and Mares braces, Ruiz and Cueto strikes earned a 2-1 win at Reims and Alcalde got his first goal for the club in a 3-0 win at home to Caen. But it came to an end as they suffered a 3-0 defeat at Lyon.

Europa League action

PSG’s Champions League demise saw them enter the Europa League. The first knockout round saw them paired with Charleroi and they nicked a 2-1 home win thanks to Cueto and Emre despite having 40 shots to two! The same duo both scored in a 3-1 win in the away leg, with Emre bagging a brace.

The short run looked destined to come to an end as PSG then faced Man UFC. A solid 0-0 at home gave them a little hope but UFC showed their quality by thumping PSG 4-1 at Old Trafford. Valencia knocked out Man UFC in the next round and eventually won the Europa League, defeating Lille 1-0 in the final. While Spurs defended their Champions League title despite only coming 11th in the league!

Chasing Champions League qualification

PSG’s strong start to the year left them looking good for a top-four finish. With six games to go, they led fifth-place Brest by nine points but trailed third-place Rennes, who’d climbed into the title battle, by eight points and leaders Lille by 10 points.

The run-in began with a 0-0 draw at Clermont Foot followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Montpellier. Lazaró then claimed his first win over one of the big French sides, as a more cautious approach saw his team nick a 2-1 win at leaders Lille, who brought the defeat on themselves with a first-half red card and a late own goal.

They backed that up with a dominant 3-0 win at home to Bordeaux with goals by both young strikers Ruiz and Emre, which secured a fourth-place finish. A 3-0 defeat at Rennes was followed by a final day 2-1 victory at home to Nice thanks to Cueto and youngster Moussa Diarra’s first goal for the club.

That saw PSG come home in fourth, 8 points behind third-place Rennes and 14 points back from Lille, who made it four titles in a row. But on the positive front, PSG had the joint-best defence, only conceding 25 goals.

Classico Derby in Coupe de France Final

The Coupe de France Final served up a “mouth-watering” affair as rivals PSG and Marseille faced off. It just so happened to be on Robinho Lazaró’s 80th birthday, 14th May 2064. But could his players serve up the ultimate birthday present?

PSG lost Ruiz to injury but had a full bill of health otherwise. So Lazaró lined up:

Marcelino; Deckers, Majerus, Djorkaeff, Silva; Alcalde; Mares, Sócrates; Cueto; Emre, Marty
Subs: Diarra, Mérabli-Grandel, Makiadi, Urdiales, Tobon, Rosado, Alphonse-Bonalair

The first half was a complete non-event with Marseille putting the only chance well over. But the second half was worse, as nothing happened until the last minute when Logan Marty put a decent opportunity just wide. Extra-time was, somehow, even worse as the only things to happen were two injuries that ruled out potential penalty takers Emre and Cueto. So the worst final ever went to penalties.

Marseille blazed their first penalty then Majerus coolly tucked home. Then 19-year-old Marcelino saved the second and third penalties while Djorkaeff scored PSG’s second. That gave Rosado stepped up with a chance to win the cup and he calmly slammed it into the bottom corner to seal a 3-0 shootout win.

Paris Saint-German won the Coupe de France for an amazing 42nd time!!

Season Review

Lazaró’s gamble to ditch the elder statesmen and put his faith in youth in January certainly paid off. PSG met the board’s expectation of securing Champions League football and – resulting in the manager earning another one-year deal in Paris.

Cueto was the star performer, scoring 23 and assisting 17 with a club-high 7.47 average rating from 46 appearances and winning fans’ player of the season. Ruiz also impressed with 23 goals in 44 games and Mares scored 10 and got nine assists, which won him the Ligue 1 Players’ Most Promising Player award. Djorkaeff had the second-best average rating of 7.24, which won him fans’ young player of the season and saw him as the only PSG player to make the Ligue 1 XI of the Season, followed by Emre, who scored six and got five assists with a 7.21 average rating.

Ruiz’s performances saw him win NxGn 2064, in which Emre came fourth, 16-year-old winger Marvin Limcombe came 22nd, Deckers was 27th and loaned-out midfielder Jozef Danko was 48th.

PSG’s focus on youth was also boosted by their intake unearthing a potential star in striker Maxime Desbois, along with solid-looking holding midfielder Jean-Baptiste Leger.

Join us on Monday to see how Lazaró sets about strengthening his young PSG side and how he fares as a Football Manager in his 80s.

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