There was a celebratory atmosphere at the Parc des Princes on Saturday as Paris Saint-Germain took on Amiens SC in the first Ligue 1 match of the season.
Neymar Jr., PSG’s newest and most expensive signing, was introduced to supporters prior to kickoff and he was treated to a magical and magnificent welcome. From chants of his name to pyrotechnics, it was an inspiring unveiling that will restore confidence in a team that lost some of their swagger after last season’s disappointments.
Unfortunately, Neymar wasn’t able to partake in the match that ended 2-0 so he watched from the stands as Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore both scored to clinch three points for Les Parisiens. It was a slow start from the hosts with Amiens sitting at least seven men behind the ball at all times but Cavani’s breakthrough at the stroke of halftime calmed everyone’s nerves. Pastore doubled the lead in the 80th minute, his first Ligue 1 goal at the Parc since September 2015.
The goalscorers will get their credit but there was plenty of other positives from the match as well as a few concerns. New to PSG Talk this season is Rushil Chugh who will be sharing his player ratings after each match. Let us know who stood out to you in the comments or on Twitter @PSGTalk.
Dani Alves was phenomenal throughout the 90 minutes both in defense and attack. He was instrumental in PSG’s first goal as he provided a tantalizing cross for Cavani who expertly finished for his first goal of the season.
Speaking of Cavani, he was in mid-season form against the newly-promoted side. The Uruguayan played a role in both goals and deserves to be the Man of the Match. His link-up play was great and his trademark energy and movement off the ball was on full display. It has to be said though that he was a bit wasteful in front of goal and should have scored at least one more.
PSG’s overall performance was a positive for me. The team played with a high tempo and attacked often in their 4-3-3 formation with Pastore and Angel Di Maria lined up on either side of Cavani. The defense was tight despite losing Thiago Silva at halftime to what appears to be some kind of knock. Presnel Kimpembe came in and made sure Alphonse Areola had very little to do on the day.
Wastefulness in front of goal was the biggest cause for concern. The capital club had a plethora of chances to score and should have put the game to bed in the first half. Neymar and Julian Draxler were left out of the squad so hopefully this will become less of an issue as the season progresses. If not, it could cost Les Rouge-et-Bleu against a tougher opponent.
Manager rating out of 10
6.5 Unai Emery stuck with a 4-3-3 formation and I expect he will stick with those tactics going forward with Neymar replacing Pastore. The Basque manager made changes at crucial intervals to give tired legs a rest and an impetus for the team to go for the kill and get a second goal. It’s against bigger teams when his tactical setup will be put to the test though.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alphonse Areola, 6 Practically a spectator as Amiens only managed to fire off one shot on goal. He was solid defensively the few times he was required at the back.
DF Dani Alves, 8 The former Juventus FC player was the architect for the first goal and was always a threat going forward. He was sound defensively on the few times he was required at the back. After the match, the 34-year-old looked like he didn’t even break a sweat.
DF Marquinhos, 6 Faced few challenged today and had a relaxed afternoon against a relatively toothless Amiens attack.
DF Thiago Silva, 6 The captain was compact in the first half and he was quick to shut down any half chances that were created by Amiens. The Brazilian was subbed off at halftime with what appeared to be some sort of injury. Hoping it’s nothing serious.
DF Layvin Kurzawa, 6 The Frenchman was better today than he was against AS Monaco in the Trophée des Champions and contributed to the offense. He faced very little challenges defensively.
MF Thiago Motta, 6 The 34-year-old was quick to snuff out attacks and was an effective shield against the few counterattacks that PSG had to endure. He was substituted once Emery realized he was tiring.
MF Marco Verratti, 8 The Italian had a great game. He played a bunch of defense-splitting passes, which Di Maria and Cavani should have capitalized on. The 24-year-old also provided solid defensive cover once Motta was removed from the game.
MF Adrien Rabiot, 7 The young Frenchman put in a solid performance and maybe should have scored a header in the first half when he found himself alone in front of goal. He was compact defensively and influential threading passes to the front three.
FW Angel Di Maria, 7.5 The Argentine did everything but score. He was pacy, insightful, and was just missing the right touch in the final third.
FW Edinson Cavani, 8.5 El Matador could have easily recorded a hat trick. He was always a constant threat and took the first goal in sublime fashion. He was selfless in teeing off Pastore for the second goal, too.
FW Javier Pastore, 6 The old #10 was a little bit anonymous today but was in the right place at the right time when he scored a tap-in to kill off the game in the 80th minute.
DF Presnel Kimpembe, 6.5 The academy product came on for Silva at halftime. He didn’t miss a beat though and helped PSG preserve their first-half lead.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 6 The Frenchman was an upgrade over Motta in terms of fitness and energy and helped PSG coast to victory in the second half.
FW Gonçalo Guedes, N/A Like last week’s Monaco game, the Portuguese attacker was brought on in the remaining minutes and had very little time to make an impact.