Paris Saint-Germain tied their record Ligue 1 winning margin with a 9-0 victory over Guingamp at the Parc des Princes, but Marco Verratti hobbled off with an apparently serious injury.
Despite losing to a late Guingamp penalty in a remarkable Coupe de la Ligue meeting last week, the result never looked in doubt for PSG in an altogether different affair on Saturday as Neymar scored a double while both Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani hit the simplest of hat-tricks.
Yet an already depleted midfield, featuring Dani Alves out of position, was further limited by Verratti’s first-half withdrawal after taking a kick, nursing his left foot as he headed off the pitch.
With a crunch Champions League clash with a reinvigorated Manchester United to come in less than a month, Thomas Tuchel’s delight at the form of Neymar and Co will undoubtedly be offset by real concerns in the middle of the pitch.
– #PSGEAG pic.twitter.com/HXYSfcWt1g
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) January 19, 2019
PSG led from their first real opening as Neymar provided a moment of inspiration, running onto Dani Alves’ lofted pass and selling a dummy to a backtracking defender before slamming high past Marc-Aurele Caillard.
But Thomas Tuchel’s men did not have it all their own way and Verratti soon departed following a clash with Felix Eboa Eboa, although Neymar could continue after himself suffering a knock.
Neymar was central to PSG’s best work and created their second with a surge into the area, teeing up Mbappe to find the bottom-right corner. The Frenchman then netted again before the break as a blocked Eboa Eboa clearance left him with a simple finish.
An initially more ponderous second half soon gave way to further home goals as Cavani converted from Juan Bernat’s cross before rising to nod in Angel di Maria’s dinked centre.
Neymar joined his strike partners on a brace as he wriggled through and slid a finish under the goalkeeper, with Guingamp ultimately doing well to keep the deficit to single figures as Cavani bundled in his hat-trick goal – awarded only after a VAR referral had overruled a non-existent foul – and Mbappe turned in number eight.
Thomas Meunier added his name to the scoresheet with an 83rd-minute drive that earned this side a slice of PSG history as they equalled a record set when they sealed the title against Troyes in 2016.
What does it mean? Selection issues increase
Adrien Rabiot is not available for PSG as talk of a move to Barcelona persists and so midfield options were extremely thin on the ground even before Verratti’s knock. Tuchel’s men played much of this laughably easy contest with a four of Dani Alves, Julian Draxler, Di Maria and Neymar in the centre of the pitch. That might work against Guingamp, but United will not be so accommodating.
Neymar in the mood
The visitors simply could not get to grips with Neymar, who ran the show. His skill for the opener was majestic and there then appeared to be nothing on for the second goal until he tore a hole through the Guingamp defence. The game was over at that point, but he deserved his third. It is crucial PSG keep their star man fit for the remainder of the campaign.
Eboa Eboa harms both sides
Guingamp defended doggedly in the cup encounter, providing firm footing from which their speedy front men could counter. But the visitors were completely outclassed in this one and Eboa Eboa endured a tough outing. His heavy challenge on Verratti hurt PSG, before he dallied and gifted the ball away for Mbappe to make it three.
PSG have two home matches in the coming week and will expect to beat both Strasbourg in the Coupe de France and Rennes in Ligue 1. Guingamp go to Nancy in the cup, then host Reims.