Energetic Dani Alves Key to PSG’s Attack against Angers


lvesKylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani were the main destroyers against Angers, scoring two goals each in Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-0 win over the weekend. Together, they showed why the capital club invested so much money into acquiring them, but another player, right-back Dani Alves, proved equally important despite his recent arrival on a free transfer.

He patrolled the right-hand side with his typical mixture of energy and purpose, and along the way, he even managed two assists. Alves assisting goals isn’t anything new, of course, as he did it for years and years in Spanish football, most prominently with Barcelona. Yet here, in France’s Ligue 1, he showcased just how good he is in a number of scenarios. He didn’t simply just whip in crosses in the manner one might expect of a fullback, but rather, in a very well-rounded manner, produced different types of passes to tee up his teammates.

His first goal, in a lot of ways, illustrated a more standard form of fullback play. He received the ball out near the right touchline, and whipped in a curling cross. Mbappe, the jet-heeled youngster, sprinted onto the ball and guided it into the back of the net, and while his technical quality will probably be the thing that most remember, it’s worth looking at the goal itself, and how it developed.

Initially, the move started with a quick switch of play. Alves latched onto it, and because PSG have a tendency to get numbers into central areas, Angers were defending in a very narrow shape. This allowed Alves to receive the ball in space, and because of that, he assessed his options calmly. Eventually, an Angers defender, Saliou Ciss, came out to cover him, but by then Mbappe was up and against central defender Romain Thomas, and running into space behind the defence. Alves spotted him and, with a swiping motion of his right foot, put the ball into his path. Mbappe finished with precision, and PSG, now 1-0 up early on, were cruising.

Here, PSG used the space available to them beautifully. They played through the centre before finding Alves in acres of space, and when Angers right-back Ciss came out to blanket him, it meant that Mbappe could isolate a central defensive player. This cohesive movement brought about the opportunity, and Alves and Mbappe, with all of their brilliance, offered the execution.

For PSG’s second goal, Alves offered even more in the way of execution. This time, he received yet another switch of play, although the context was a little different. Instead of having Mbappe as an option on the inside, the Frenchman had shifted out to the right-hand side. That meant Ciss was holding a wider position than he was in the lead-up to the first goal, so instead of meandering up the wing, Alves drove through the centre. Ciss, unsure of whether to stick with Mbappe or move infield to close down Alves, got caught marking space. This enabled Alves to run into the final third, assessing his options as he did so. He picked Julian Draxler in the end, who made a hard run in behind the opposition defence. Alves teed him up with a sharp through ball, one that an attacking midfielder would’ve been pleased with, and Draxler did the rest by chipping the ball into the back of the net.

Again, the combination of intuitive movement and supreme execution generated the goal, and with this in mind, it probably wasn’t surprising to see PSG run out 5-0 winners by full-time. These moves described above demonstrate how Unai Emery, the PSG manager, has shaped his team into a far more cohesive unit this season, and though some may argue about the players available to him and whether he really has to do much, the figures suggest that he couldn’t be doing a lot better.

In Ligue 1 alone, PSG have netted 39 goals in 12 games, and as the season continues to progress, the Parisian outfit seem to be generating even more cricket scores (or 4-0 and 5-0 results). Their quality is incredible and they once again seem to be turning Ligue 1 into a one-horse race. Their team is, of course, remarkable, and when you look at the likes to Mbappe and Neymar (who didn’t play against Angers), it should be. Alves, too, is more than playing his role, and if anyone thought he was in Paris simply to cash in prior to retirement, his determination and quality is proving otherwise.

The Brazilian fullback is becoming a key player for his new club, and if PSG hope to reclaim Ligue 1 and go even further in Europe this campaign, the club will hope that he can continue to be at the heart of things.