PARIS, France — Three thoughts from Stade de France on PSG’s 2-0 win over third-tier Les Herbiers in the Coupe de France final.
1. “Only” another domestic treble for PSG
Paris Saint-Germain have won the Coupe de France for the 12th time and are now four-time consecutive champions after a 2-0 win over minnows Vendee Les Herbiers.
Giovani Lo Celso’s first-half strike and Edinson Cavani’s second-half penalty secured the trophy for Unai Emery’s men, who complete another domestic clean sweep, but their opponents deserve immense credit for making the French capital giants work so hard.
It was David vs. Goliath and the latter eventually triumphed but few, if any, would have predicted that the former would keep things as respectable as they did.
PSG are Coupe de France champions again and logically so, completing another domestic treble and Emery’s first after last season’s Ligue 1 failure.
However, while Le Championnat and the Champions League left Les Parisiens disappointed last campaign, it is only Europe that was missing this time around. That, though, has become the be all and end all each term for PSG, and even continued dominance at home will not cushion the blow of a second consecutive Champions League round-of-16 exit at the hands of Spanish opponents.
Emery will not be back next season and will pay the price for failing to overcome finalists Real Madrid on the continent, while some senior stars who were on the pitch against Les Herbiers might also follow the Spaniard out of the Parc des Princes exit door.
It wasn’t the rout many expected but PSG were comfortable enough in winning their fourth straight Coupe de France title.
2. Unheralded Lo Celso the Cup hero
Neymar was present at Stade de France (but did not play), Cavani scored the insurance goal from the penalty spot and the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria both featured, but it was Lo Celso who stood out for the winners.
The Argentina international opened the scoring after 26 minutes with a lovely effort from distance, and he had already hit the post twice by that point.
Lo Celso might not be a household name, yet, but it feels like only a matter of time until he becomes one after an impressive first full season. The 22-year-old now has six goals since the start of 2018, including a double in the 7-1 Ligue 1 title-confirming thrashing of Monaco, and is likely to be part of Jorge Sampaoli’s Albiceleste plans in Russia this summer. He’s one to keep an eye on.
With Marco Verratti absent after season-ending surgery, Lo Celso stepped up and ensured that the Italy international was not missed too sorely here.
Giovani Lo Celso was the surprising hero for PSG in the Coupe de France final.
3. Midnight strikes on Cinderella — Les Herbiers earn respect
In a strange way, PSG’s 2-0 win over Les Herbiers will feel a bit deflating for the winners and like something of a victory for the losers — as evidenced by the joyous scenes at full-time in the “home” end from Vendee.
Expected to be thrashed by potentially double figures, limiting PSG to one goal in each half (forgetting Mbappe’s second-half strike that was controversially ruled out through VAR) was a real achievement for Stephane Masala’s men and one they deserve plenty of praise for.
Matthieu Pichot was heroic between the sticks for the minnows, aside from bringing Cavani down for the penalty, while the team in front of him defended resolutely as a unit and kept their shape and discipline all over the pitch for the full 90 minutes. Emery’s men could and should have scored more, but at the same time Les Herbiers did not deserve to ship three, four, five or more goals, so merited their good fortune.
Masala’s men did not attack much and rode their luck at times defensively (PSG hit the woodwork four times), but their valiant effort deserved recognition. They got it at the end, as Thiago Silva invited opposing captain Sebastien Flochon to symbolically join him for the trophy lift in recognition of their significant achievement.
Les Herbiers might not have won the trophy but they won over plenty of fans with their run to the Coupe de France final and didn’t do that any harm with a spirited and proud performance at Stade de France.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.