Mbappé and Neymar the Difference in Win Over Bordeaux

Where would Paris Saint-Germain be without the goals from Neymar Jr. this season? The polarizing Brazilian has scored three match-winning goals this season for the team he desperately tried to leave this summer. The latest coming against Girondins Bordeaux at the Stade Matmut Altlantique, a stadium Les Parisiens are unbeaten at since it opened in 2015.

Thomas Tuchel turned heads before kickoff with his starting lineup choice. Kylian Mbappé and Mauro Icardi returned to the team but were left on the bench presumably to play if absolutely necessary and to keep them rested for next week’s UEFA Champions League clash away at Galatasaray S.K.

The absence of the Frenchman was felt the most from the opening kickoff. Neymar started as a false nine along with Angel Di Maria on one wing and Pablo Sarabia on the other. The Spaniard’s struggles continued for yet another game and while Di Maria and Neymar created scoring opportunities, they didn’t have a target man to play off of and feed passes to. Therefore, Bordeaux’s defense, led by the veteran presence of Laurent Koscielny, was able to sit back and pack the box in an effort to make life difficult for PSG’s undermanned attack.

Neymar and Di Maria frequently ran at defenders but all too often they were forced to play passes out wide to Thomas Meunier and Sarabia. They may as well have passed into a black hole because neither of those two players was able to beat their man one-on-one and make a return pass into a dangerous area with any sort of consistency.

The opening 45 minutes finished 0-0 and you have to wonder if that would have been the case if Mbappé was on the pitch from the opening kickoff. The Frenchman was on the bench so you have to assume he was fully fit or else he wouldn’t be there. Same with Icardi. Questions will be asked of Tuchel about whether he is truly prioritizing Ligue 1 (PSG already have two losses and several narrow escapes) or if he’s resting his stars so that they’re fully fit for the Champions League. Europe is where Tuchel will be ultimately judged but winning Ligue 1 shouldn’t be overlooked.

My absence? It was long, difficult too. When the team loses, you want to come back as soon as possible, but you can’t be hasty. It wasn’t easy, but it’s over!—Kylian Mbappé,

The second half was more of the same until the 60th minute. Having seen an hour of his team struggle to score, Tuchel finally brought Mbappé on for Sarabia. Neymar remained in the false nine role with Mbappé out on the right-wing. The difference was almost instantaneous.

Mbappé did not look like a player who was fearful of picking up another injury. He came out and ran full-speed, made razor-sharp cuts, and impacted the game immediately. I’m not sure why he wasn’t available to play a full match as the manager stated in his pre-match press conference but Mbappé looked like his usual self. I’m not a doctor but that’s just my observation.

Neymar’s goal would eventually come in the 70th minute off a pass from Mbappé. It took just 10 minutes for Mbappé to help get PSG on the scoreboard but he didn’t do it alone. A lot of credit needs to go to Idrissa Gueye who had another outstanding game in midfield. It was his relentless effort that won the ball and his vision that picked out Mbappé who did the rest. It was a well-deserved goal and one that had been coming. Mbappé nearly scored himself if not for Benoit Costil making a great save with his face. The Frenchman’s mere presence forced Bordeaux to defend in a way that wasn’t comfortable for them and the 20-year-old took advantage for the 30 minutes he was on the pitch.

There was a slight penalty shout from Bordeaux after Gueye made a challenge in the box but the referee wasn’t having it. The final whistle blew and PSG picked up three points after failing to do so in the 2-0 lost to Stade de Reims last Wednesday. The win keeps them at the top of Ligue 1, just two points ahead of FC Nantes and Angers SCO (how many had that top three at the start of the season?).

All eyes now turn to the difficult away trip to Turkey where the Galatasaray fans will try to make life difficult for PSG. Tuchel will not have Neymar to rely on as he’s serving the final game of his suspension dating back to last season. We’ll likely see an attack of Mbappé, Icardi, and Di Maria, with a midfield of Gueye, Marquinhos, and Marco Verratti. Meunier and Juan Bernat will be the full-backs with Thiago Silva and Abdou Diallo (maybe Presnel Kimpembe) in the center-back role. Make sure you subscribe to our podcasts and follow PSG Talk on social media for more on this game. Allez Paris!

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Tags Abdou Diallo Angel Di Maria Bordeaux Idrissa Gueye Juan Bernat Kylian Mbappé Ligue 1 Marco Verratti Marquinhos Mauro Icardi Neymar Pablo Sarabia Thiago Silva Thomas Meunier Thomas Tuchel
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