Saturday, August 13, 2022

Trophee des Champions: Messi, Neymar, Ramos on target as PSG ease past Nantes

Paris Saint-Germain has its first silverware of the 2022-23 season after beating FC Nantes 4-0 in Tel Aviv on Sunday to secure the Trophee des Champions. Lionel Messi, Neymar (two), and Sergio Ramos all scored as Christophe Galtier made his competitive debut as the French giants’ new boss. Kylian Mbappe was suspended from the end of last campaign, but PSG did not miss their French superstar at Bloomfield Stadium.

Messi opened the scoring after 22 minutes when he took the ball around Alban Lafont before firing home and Neymar doubled that lead on the stroke of half time with a superb free kick. Ramos got in on the act just before the hour mark and then Galtier made a few personnel changes toward the final 20 minutes before Neymar completed the scoring with a penalty that also saw Jean-Charles Castelletto sent off.

Nordi Mukiele made his debut from the bench although Hugo Ekitike is yet to feature given that he was not ready for inclusion here. The victory completes Les Parisiens’ preseason preparations, and the new term starts in Clermont next week. What we know about this new-look PSG so far.

Neymar & Messi motivation

Perhaps it is simply down to the fact that it is FIFA World Cup year, but the Brazilian and Argentine superstar pair certainly looked like they were raring to go in Israel. Both have generally looked good so far in PSG’s friendly encounters and to have both focused for the early days under Galtier bodes extremely well for the coming season. Messi’s debut campaign was majorly underwhelming while Neymar has never consistently delivered in Paris, so both could be closer to what has always been expected of them at Parc des Princes this year.

“It was a good game and we played well,” said Neymar after the final whistle. “We really have to congratulate the whole team. People speak a lot without knowing what is going on inside the club. We see that Messi remains Messi each day. He will not change and will always be a difference maker. I hope that we will stay like this for the season and that everything will go well for Leo, Kylian, and I. If all three of us are good, PSG will be good too.”

Ramos has a role

If Messi’s first term in the French capital was difficult, Ramos’ was nightmarish, and it did not look like he had much of a future coming into this one. However, the veteran Spaniard has emerged as a potential starter for Galtier — at least until debutant Nordi Mukiele has bedded in and there is some resolution in the club’s pursuit of Milan Skriniar. Between them, Neymar, Messi, and Ramos bring major experience to this reshaped PSG side and although he might not be indispensable as the season progresses, there are few stronger leadership figures in the game than Ramos.

“I feel very happy after a difficult first season,” Ramos said post match. “I ended the campaign well and I had this desire to play. Little by little I have found my best level. I felt good out there. It makes you want the season to start. We are playing a new system at the back and Marquinhos, Presnel, and I need to work together. We will keep going with our movements, timing and depth. It is a solid system, though.”

3-4-1-2 here to stay?

Galtier has been clear from the off that he favors the system for the group of players he has inherited from predecessor Mauricio Pochettino and so far, there has been little to no deviation from that. There is a bank of three defenders in Ramos, Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe, Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes on either wing with Vitinha alongside Marco Verratti in the middle. Ahead of them, either Messi or Neymar can play in the hole and Pablo Sarabia stepped up in Mbappe’s absence in Tel Aviv. New signings or departures between now and the end of the transfer window could change things, but it seems unlikely that the shape will be altered too much with Gini Wijnaldum and Idrissa Gueye expected to leave shortly.

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