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Javier Pastore's Improving Form and Fitness in Reims Draw Is Good News for PSG

Published by Bleacher Report on Sun, 20 Sep 2015

It has been a difficult start to the season for Paris Saint-Germains Javier Pastore, but his performance in the French champions 1-1 draw away at Stade de Reims in Ligue 1 on Saturday suggested a return to top form could be just around the corner.The Argentina international enjoyed immense success last campaign and was one of Les Parisiens star performers. His displays in the French capital earned him a place in the Albiceleste team that was ultimately beaten by Chile in this summers Copa America final.Because of Pastores success last time around, the 26-year-old has suffered at the start of this term.El Flacos extended international duty with Argentina meant heas well as team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzidid not get any pre-season action. That lack of adequate preparation has played havoc with his fitness.Pastores first involvement this campaign came when he started the 1-0 win away at Lille OSC on the opening day of the league season.However, it quickly became obvious he was not fully fit, and Adrien Rabiots petulant first-half sending off for two bookable offences meant the PSG No. 27 was the player who made way for Thiago Motta. The Italian would go on to play a key role in PSGs narrow victory.In the following games, Pastore appeared as a second-half substitute in the 2-0 win over Gazelec Ajaccio and was rewarded with a second start of the season in the 1-0 victory away at Montpellier HSC the week after that.Unfortunately, the Argentinian playmaker lasted just nine minutes at Stade de la Mosson before he was forced off with an injury. That fitness concern kept him out of the squad for the 3-0 win away at AS Monaco and the 2-2 draw at home against Girondins de Bordeaux either side of the most recent international break.Pastore made his return to action in the 2-0 UEFA Champions League Group A success at home to Malmoon Tuesday, coming on for the final 15 minutes in place of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Then, finally, he was able to play the full 90 minutes once againon Saturday and will be all the better for it.Speaking with the club'sofficial siteafter the match, Pastore was happy with the performance but disappointed that he and his team-mates were unable to find the back of the net more than once.We played very well; we created a lot more chances than our opponent and had most of the ball. We were only missing the goals. It's never easy after a Champions League. But it's a good point. We didn't lose. You know that there's an opponent and we're not playing by ourselves. We aren't going to win every match we play.Pastores afternoon started well: Just 15 minutes in, he headed home a Layvin Kurzawa free-kick with a fine, firm finish. However, the goal was ruled outthough replays proved it perhaps should have stoodand the South American was denied a rare headed effort.Throughout the first half, Pastore displayed some neat touches and embarked upon a few trademark dribbles.He looked surprisingly sharp on ball considering how sluggish he had been in previous games because of his lack of pre-season and niggling early-season injuries, but he was still some way from his free-flowing best.Pastore drifted in and out of the gameas was regularly the case before last season and something that still happened occasionally last termbut he came up with a key contribution after 84 minutes in Champagne-Ardenne.Less than 60 seconds after Theoson Jordan Siebatcheu had given Reims the lead with a simple finish after some poor PSG defending, Pastore produced a dangerous lofted ball over the top in search of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani.The Swede was unable to connect with the ball, but the Uruguayan made no mistake, volleying home with aplomb for his fifth goal of the seasonand sixth strike in his last four gamesto silence the Stade Auguste Delaune crowd after the rapturous scenes of one minute earlier.Pastore is by no means in his best shape, and he is still far from the excellent form he displayed last season.However, he is improving, and the forthcoming double round of Ligue 1 fixtures should get him up to speed in time for PSGs trip to Lviv to face ShakhtarDonetsk in the Champions League in their second Group A fixture on September 30.
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