Paris Saint-Germain’s perfect start to the Ligue 1 season continued with an intense 3-0 win away at Nice on Saturday. Superstar Neymar lived up to his billing with two goals and Christopher Nkunku added another as Thomas Tuchel oversaw the most complete performance by his side yet at Allianz Riviera.
The win and the continued record, equalled only by Olympique Lillois back in 1936-37, are both big pluses, but the manner of PSG’s victory will have pleased Tuchel most. The defending champions could and should have scored more in Nice, but the intensity on show from the men from the capital was impressive. In his two-goal performance, Neymar also underlined how the No. 10 role in Tuchel’s preferred formation suits him very well.
Aside from Kylian Mbappe and Juan Bernat’s unnecessary bookings, it was a more or less a perfect day for Tuchel. He rested Edinson Cavani, saw a number of fringe stars impress and suffered no obvious injury issues ahead of Champions League duty next week.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — The loose 3-4-3 formation that Tuchel has been trying to implement was utilised again and to great effect. The attack looked sharp, at times, the midfield solid, the defence kept a clean sheet, and everybody played with the sort of intensity that the German tactician demands.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alphonse Areola, 6 — Not given too much to do but calm and composed when called upon.
DF Thilo Kehrer, 7 — Handed his first start since an unconvincing first half in the home win over Angers back in the third game of the campaign, he returned to the starting XI much improved and produced a calm display.
DF Thiago Silva (c), 7 — Rarely troubled, the captain looked at home alongside Kehrer and Presnel Kimpembe at the heart of the defence.
DF Presnel Kimpembe, 7 — Blended into the three-man backline with Kehrer and Silva well and looked unflustered.
MF Christopher Nkunku, 6 — Deployed in the right wing-back role with Thomas Meunier, Dani Alves and Colin Dagba all out, he performed well there and took his chance to score before making way inside the hour mark after he was fouled.
MF Marquinhos, 6 — His best showing in midfield since Tuchel started this experiment — he looked much more comfortable and formed part of a balanced unit in the middle, which was helped by Nkunku and Moussa Diaby’s energy out wide.
MF Adrien Rabiot, 7 — Fatigued lately, he looked less tired here and paired well with Marquinhos in the middle before Marco Verratti joined the party for the final 18 minutes.
MF Moussa Diaby, 7 — Given another start after his assist against Reims, this time he occupied the left wing-back role and teed up another goal — Neymar’s opener — to cap another vibrant display.
FW Angel Di Maria, 5 — Not at his best but Neymar ensured that he did not have to be. His presence in the front three enabled a more fluid showing than would have been possible with a less technical player, such as Cavani, involved.
FW Neymar, 8 — PSG’s main man with two of the three goals and a number of key passes. His defensive work left a bit to be desired at times but his willingness to get involved shows that the players have heard Tuchel’s message and are putting it into practice.
FW Kylian Mbappe, 6 — It will not go down as his finest outing, but he still assisted Neymar’s second goal and would have had another to his name if he had not been flagged offside via Video Assisted Refereeing (VAR) in the first half. In time, the Brazil international playing as a No. 10 will benefit the Frenchman — particularly if this system sticks as Tuchel intends.
DF Juan Bernat, 4 — Sent on to replace Nkunku just over 10 minutes into the second half, he still looked a bit rusty and picked up a booking after Neymar played him into trouble.
MF Marco Verratti, N/R — The 18 minutes at the end of the game were ideal for him as he continues to work his way back to full fitness and prepares to return to Champions League action next week.
FW Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, NR — Although he did not have the same impact that he did away at Rennes last week, he still added some physical presence late on and that made it harder for Nice to push for a goal that would have brought them back into the contest.