Mbappé, Vitinha, Lee… when Paris rediscovers its taste for long-range shots, it’s a smash

In the face of Montpellier, Parisians scored three goals from outside the box, confirming a strong trend: PSG is extremely well-equipped in this area.

Scoring three goals from outside the box in the same match is not common. Even for Paris Saint-Germain. One would probably have to go back to a match against Stade Brestois in 2021 to find evidence of such a performance. The goal scorers were Idrissa Gueye, Ander Herrera, and Angel Di Maria. However, on this front, PSG has no rival in Europe this season.

With 14 goals scored from outside the penalty area (the best total in Ligue 1 since 2017-2018), Paris is significantly ahead of the best teams on the continent, including Manchester City, who come in second place (10), ahead of RB Leipzig (9), according to statistician Opta.

Surprising? Not necessarily. Under the guidance of Spanish coach Unai Emery, Paris Saint-Germain made it a specialty in Ligue 1 (best ratio of the QSI era). And even though they had a pure striker like Uruguayan Edinson Cavani in their ranks, PSG was the team that scored the most goals in this configuration at the end of the 2017-2018 season (18).

PSG regained this taste under the leadership of Mauricio Pochettino, who took over from Thomas Tuchel, and could rely on the contribution of several sharpshooters like Argentine Angel Di Maria in their ranks. It’s been somewhat the same since Luis Enrique took over on the PSG bench.

That Kylian Mbappe can score from any position, especially from afar, does not surprise anyone, the Bondy prodigy has been tormenting goalkeepers “since he was born,” smiled Luis Enrique in a press conference on Sunday night. “He has it in his blood,” said Manuel Ugarte in the mixed zone.

Paris has a lot of specialists in long-distance shooting, some of whom have excelled in this exercise at the Mosson, like Portuguese Vitinha, whose profile stands out from the less daring Marco Verratti.

Vitinha exudes astonishing confidence this winter and more generally since the beginning of the season, far from the timid player who no longer dared to take any initiative last season. Now, the Portuguese international dares everything, and that’s mainly how we recognize him.

“If you can see that, I readily confess, I feel good on the field, I feel confident,” admitted the player modestly in the mixed zone, much more talkative however in the club’s channel. “It’s important to take the initiative to shoot. I know I have a good shot, I shoot well. You have to try even more,” the Portuguese midfielder said.

“When you have players of this quality, it’s the norm,” concurred Luis Enrique.

“I think we need to motivate the players to keep trying. All coaches work on these aspects and today the goals were spectacular.” Vitinha’s natural penchant for taking the initiative is a real nightmare for opposing teams, who must also deal with the freedom of movement granted to players on the wings in the attacking phase.

Plunged into uncertainty by an opponent that becomes less predictable as the season progresses, the Montpellier defense allowed Vitinha too much freedom to act, and as seen against Rennes (3-1) and Monaco (5-2), he is surgical in that position, slightly off-center on the left, at the edge of the box.

Lee Kang-in also showed that he knows how to do it in his role, with a stunning left-footed strike, triggered after a back-to-goal relay from Randal Kolo Muani. “There are other players with this quality like Warren Zaïre-Emery,” reminded Luis Enrique, who surely had in mind that stunning shot into the top corner by Bizot against Brest (3-2). Masterful. With this PSG, the threat is multifaceted, danger comes from everywhere, even from afar.

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