Still warming up, PSG prepares to face Guingamp

The opening-day victory for PSG followed a 4-0 win over Monaco in the French Champions Trophy in China, and suggests that PSG still has the edge on its domestic rival.

Brazil star Neymar played, and scored, as a false nine in the home victory over Caen last weekend.   -  Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain heads to Guingamp for the second round of Ligue 1 matches, yet coach Thomas Tuchel said it feels as if the club is still in pre-season.

There were some glimpses of innovation under the new manager with Neymar, who scored in his first start for PSG in six months, playing as a false nine in a 3-0 home victory over Caen.

Yet while the Brazilian superstar is back, PSG's three World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe, Presnel Kimpembe and Alphonse Areola appeared only to show the trophy they won in Moscow to Parisian fans. Edinson Cavani and the injured Marco Verratti were also missing.

“We have to have some sort of second pre-season,” Tuchel said. “But it's no longer the pre-season, we are playing for points and it's important to win because we are aiming very high.”

Club captain Thiago Silva agreed that the team was not firing on all cylinders. “Some players arrived late, they are not ready, me for example,” Silva said.

The PSG lineup contained three 19-year olds making their first Ligue 1 starts — Stanley Nsoki and Colin Dagba as the full-backs and Antoine Bernede in midfield. Tuchel also risked ruffling Neymar's ego by replacing the Brazilian with 18-year-old Timothy Weah with eight minutes left. Weah then scored.

'Two leagues'

The opening-day victory followed a 4-0 win over Monaco, last season's runners-up, in the French Champions Trophy in China, and suggests that PSG still has the edge on its domestic rival.

“There are two leagues. Paris is not in the same championship as us,” Prince Oniangue, the Caen captain said.

After an opening weekend on which not a single match ended in a draw, PSG is second in the table on goal difference behind Marseille, who thrashed Toulouse, 4-0.

Marseille's World Cup winner, Florian Thauvin came off the bench with eight minutes left on Friday and scored. He said returning to the field as a world champion had lifted him.

“It gives you wings, it gives you strength, it gives you confidence, a little bit of everything,” he said. “We were carried by all the French during the World Cup, we proudly represented them, they were all very happy. And today, it was pure happiness for me to return to the pitch.”

Having opened the season last Friday, Marseille closes the second weekend when it plays at the most remarkable opening-day winners, Nimes. Nimes came from 3-1 down to win 4-3 away to Angers last Saturday. The visitor scored its last two goals came in the final five minutes after being reduced to 10 men.

“Losing 3-2 with 10 against 11, I think only the 10 on the field still believed. My men are crazy,” said Nimes coach Bernard Blaquart.

The weekend kicks off on Friday with a match between two more opening-day winners as Reims faces Lyon, which hopes its World Cup winner Nabil Fekir will be fit to make his first appearance of the season.

Promoted Reims scored after two minutes away to Nice, in its first league match under Patrick Vieira, and then clung on to win 1-0.

 

Fixtures

Friday: Reims vs Lyon

Saturday: Guingamp vs Paris Saint-Germain, Amiens vs Montpellier, Caen vs Nice, Dijon vs Nantes, Monaco vs Lille, Rennes vs Angers

Sunday: Strasbourg v Saint-Etienne, Toulouse vs Bordeaux, Nimes vs Marseille

 

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