Can Cavani and Ibrahimovic work together?
Published: 26.07.13 / Written by: David Gold
Edinson Cavani’s move to Paris St Germain is an intriguing one.
For one thing Napoli have done superb business to get a club to meet his 63 million euro buy out clause rather than going down to a lower price, as Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea wanted. But given the choice, who would Cavani have gone to? The word from his family members was that Real Madrid would be an ideal place for the Uruguayan, but that isn’t happening now.
So instead Cavani will head to Paris to join the French champions, and take his place alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front for Laurent Blanc’s side. The big question will now be how exactly these two superstars of the modern game will work in tandem at the Parc des Princes?
Ibrahimovic is a player whose qualities are clear and obvious. Ridiculously gifted technically, his shooting ability is world class, and his strength and guile make him an almost unique threat in the world game. Few combine power and technical quality as well as Ibrahimovic. He is from the same breed of player as Dimitar Berbatov, only better.
But to get the best out of Ibra, you need to build a team around him to get the best out of his remarkable talents. He is a superb player to have on the counter attack, because he can shrug off defenders so easily and get in behind the opposition defence – and he is no slouch. His imagination also makes him a deadly presence from a creative sense, and he sets up many chances for his team mates. But this is all with a team built to serve his talents.
Edinson Cavani is a very different type of front man. Blessed with fantastic and typically Uruguayan work ethic, Cavani puts his services at the disposal of the team. He will harry opposition players and track back to help out when his team is on the backfoot. Cavani will ensure that his team are secure defensively before he marauds forward. With Uruguay you can see a negative to this though – he is often less effective than with Napoli as by the time Uruguay win the ball he is still in his own half or just getting into the opposition’s. With Napoli, he is already up front, ready to receive the ball and do damage. And Cavani is far more effective in the final third than any other part of the pitch – only with Uruguay he spends less time there.
To get the best out of this combination will be a big test for Blanc. Modern teams tend to need to have all of their players doing defensive work, and can get away with maybe one not. If you have Ibrahimovic in your team, it is hard to see how you can fit in another player like Cavani who is meant to be at the tip of the formation, unless you play with a 4-4-2 formation, or the diamond system with two attackers. But then you sacrifice an element of defensive solidity. The diamond system seems perhaps the best solution, but that places undue emphasis on full backs to be creative, and takes away from the skill out wide of Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore.
This will therefore be the big conundrum now facing Blanc. He is armed with two of the best forwards in modern football. But they are so feared because of the way their teams have been built around their superb talents. Accommodating both is a tactical problem that Blanc will do well to solve. But if he does, Paris St Germain have possibly the best attack in world football.