Perhaps all is well in paradise after all. Paris Saint-Germain concluded a week dominated by reports of an acrimonious atmosphere in the dressing-room by beating Bayern Munich in clinical fashion.
Dani Alves drove in the opening goal after just two minutes, and Edinson Cavani placed the second in to the top corner before half time. Neymar added a third in the second half as PSG’s attacking trident scythed through the Bayern defense. The victory leaves the Ligue 1 leaders well placed at the summit of Champions League Group B, while Bayern sit level with Celtic on three points.
It all started with a penalty. Or, at least, that was when the tension between Edinson Cavani, PSG’s leading scorer, and Neymar, PSG’s world-record signing, manifested itself publicly. The pair bickered over who would shoot from 12 yards during a home victory against Lyon. Reports later emerged of widespread discontent in Unai Emery’s dressing room, as a result of expenditure on Neymar’s transfer forcing the club’s Qatari owners to place several players on the transfer list. PSG did not only need a victory to consolidate their position at the top of the group, but also to publically unite the squad, to show that they remain together in their pursuit of the Champions League.
The tension dissolved after two minutes. Neymar drifted in from the left and sucked the Bayern defense towards him, creating space for Dani Alves to canter in to at the far post. Neymar found his Brazil international team-mate, and he drove the ball beyond the onrushing Sven Ulreich.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had their own domestic problems. Bayern let a two-goal lead slip against Wolfsburg at the weekend, and Alves’ early goal dealt another blow to their ostensibly fragile confidence.
Ancelotti raised eyebrows with his decision to drop Mats Hummels and Jerome Boating in favour of Niklas Süle and Javi Martínez at the heart of the defense, yet it was his attacking selection that hurt Bayern. James, Müller, and Lewandowski are all inclined to drift inside, and that resulted in congestion in the central third of the pitch. The visitors enjoyed plenty of the ball, nearly 60 percent of it, but did not have the guile to take advantage.
Edinson Cavani emphatically doubled PSG’s lead after 31 minutes. Kylian Mbappé latched on to Dani Alves’ through ball on the right flank and showed his maturity by waiting on the ball and lifting his head to assess his position. The 18-year-old laid the ball to Cavani, who swept a glorious first-time shot in to the top corner. Neymar belatedly arrived to celebrate with his attacking accomplice.
Ancelotti introduced Kingsley Coman and Sebastian Rudy at the break. While Coman added penetration on the left flank, the changes were essentially superficial. Bayern continued to dominate possession without a discernable plan of how to break down the opposition.
That approach allowed PSG to thrive on the counter attack. Mbappé, Neymar, and Cavani cavorted forward repeatedly. Two of the threesome combined to stretch the lead after 63 minutes. Mbappé received the ball in the right channel after a lung-busting burst from Dani Alves.
He faced up against Alaba and shaped to shoot, but at the last moment rolled the ball from his right foot to his left and unleashed from that side. Martínez desperately blocked the ball on the line, but Neymar was alert to slam the rebound in to the roof of the net.
After their humiliating exit at the hands of Barcelona in the 2016-17 Champions League, PSG have delivered a statement of intent. The names of their front three may not encourage the formation of a catchy acronym, but they have assumed a place among the best attacking units in the world.
Culled from AS.