Here’s a look at the talking points from the game.
VERRATTI SHOWING RAISES ANFIELD QUESTIONS
Marco Verratti missed PSG’s loss to Liverpool through suspension, but though Red Star didn’t offer the same level of challenge, this game still showed how crucial the Italian is to the side. Marquinhos replaced Verratti at Anfield, and, as he has in the past, looked out of sorts as a makeshift defensive midfielder.
On Wednesday, Verratti had more touches (112) and attempted and completed more passes (130, 92.3 per cent) than anyone on the pitch, and he also made more tackles (10) than anyone else.
It’s performances like these which show why he’s considered a classic Barcelona midfielder, though he may never end up joining the Catalan giants if the Ligue 1 champions have their way. On form, he, more than any of the star names in the squad, is the player who makes PSG tick, controlling possession with his precise, metronomic passing, as well as his feistiness and defensive vigilance.
Again, though Verratti has already established his pedigree as a top-class midfielder, it’s hard to read too much into this performance given the opposition. But it does beget the question how much better PSG would have been against Liverpool if Verratti had been available.
RABIOT CONTINUES TO DELIVER DESPITE CONTRACT STAND-OFF
The Parisians’ other star central midfielder is persevering on this season despite it likely being his last campaign in the French capital. Adrien Rabiot rejected a third contract offer this week, and it’s almost certain that he’ll be on his way out of the club next summer – likely to Barcelona, coincidentally.
But there’s no sign of Rabiot being distracted by these off-field issues, even if it would be understandable that his motivation to play for the club was waning. Instead, the Frenchman has been the consummate professional, with this another in a string of performances that have shown Rabiot’s class in midfield.
It helps playing alongside someone like Verratti, but Rabiot is a brilliant midfielder in his own right. He ended up finishing second behind his colleague on the same three stats – touches, attempted passes, and completed passes – and showed off his defensive chops with the way he dominated in the air. No-one won more defensive aerial duels (seven) than Rabiot on Wednesday.
As it stands, it seems PSG have no chance of keeping Rabiot beyond this season. They’ll no doubt buy a replacement, but he’ll be a big loss.
MOVE ALONG, NOTHING TO SEE HERE
On paper, a 6-1 win with a Neymar hat-trick and Cavani and Mbappe also getting on the scoresheet seems exciting enough. But though PSG were good to watch against Red Star, there was nothing to learn here. They do this against league opponents every week.
Only when they can replicate this level of performance, if not necessarily the same scoreline, against more challenging opponents, will they truly earn any plaudits. Last season they beat Bayern Munich at home, but then slumped away and nearly relinquished top spot of their group, before losing to Real Madrid in the Round of 16. The year before that, of course, was the infamous loss to Barcelona, seeing a 4-0 first-leg lead overturned by a 6-1 loss.
Viewed through the prism of those results, the Matchday 1 loss to Liverpool seems like just as expected a result as Wednesday’s dominating win was. Tuchel’s real achievement will be when PSG can replicate this sort of form against a team like the Reds, and of course, they’ll get their chance soon enough. Until then, however, even 6-1 wins will feel humdrum.
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