PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain won Le Classique on Sunday with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille at Parc des Princes. Achraf Hakimi set the tone in a boiling home atmosphere with a scorching free kick before Randal Kolo Muani added a second before half time and Goncalo Ramos added a second half double to down Jacques Abardonado’s unbeaten side.
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However, such a convincing win over their detested foes came at a considerable cost for Luis Enrique’s men as Kylian Mbappe was forced off injured with an ankle issue before halftime. Pregame, the French superstar had scored seven of PSG’s 10 goals in Ligue 1, 70% of Les Parisiens’ domestic total so far this campaign — staggering pace given that he missed the opening game and a half.
Although it is too early to tell exactly how long Mbappe will be out for, PSG’s other attacking talents picked the perfect moment to demonstrate their considerable goal-scoring credentials. Both Kolo Muani and Ramos got off the mark in their new colors having joined during the summer transfer window with the Frenchman’s an opportunist finish and the Portuguese a predatory brace. The injury does appear to be minor, however.
“It is not a serious problem for Kylian,” said Luis Enrique postgame. “However, he was in pain and it was difficult for him to play on. I think that withdrawing him was the smartest move. It is nothing major and just a bit of a knock. Thankfully, he is doing just fine.”
If a Kolo Muani goal and assist was a boost then Ramos scoring twice was a major relief given that he had failed to do so in nearly 300 minutes of play in Rouge et Bleu so far this term. The summer signing from SL Benfica was prolific in his native Portugal but had been frustrated in front of goal until this weekend — notably midweek against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League.
Another PSG attacking talent who finally contributed something tangible for Luis Enrique’s side was Ousmane Dembele who had been derided for not getting a single goal or assist since joining. The France international teed up Ramos to make it 3-0 with a brilliant ball in and timely justification of Luis Enrique’s belief in his creative qualities despite a generally slow start to life post-Barcelona.
Arguably the most impressive performer on the night in Paris was Bradley Barcola who joined from Olympique Lyonnais and went on the left in a rejigged 4-2-3-1 to accommodate Mbappe as a No. 10. The PSG No. 7 did have to make way before the system could truly be analyzed but the 21-year-old’s outing was a resounding success from start to finish of his 80 minutes in this Classique.
Having an in-form Hakimi scoring a pair of stunning goals against both Dortmund in the UCL and Marseille in Ligue 1 does not hurt attacking prowess either. However, the biggest test is yet to come if Mbappe does miss some games given that there is a difficult trio of away games on the horizon with Clermont Foot, Newcastle United and Stade Rennais all before the October international break.
Given that Clermont are now rock bottom of Ligue 1 and struggling massively, PSG should be able to cope without their talisman for the trip to Stade Gabriel Montpied. Newcastle and Rennes would be very difficult without Mbappe, though, so Kolo Muani, Ramos, Dembele and Barcola have served up some interesting food for thought for Luis Enrique at just the right time after a testing home run.
The Spanish tactician also finally has his statement performance from his players with PSG looking like more of an interesting proposition by the game. He was clear post-OGC Nice that he was happy with the display despite losing 3-2 just over one week ago and he has been rewarded with two convincing successes against Dortmund in Europe and now Marseille in Ligue 1 to send Paris third.