A lowdown on this week’s performances of PSG and Monaco in the Champions League as the current giants of French football seek to conquer the continental stage.
It was a mixed bag for the French contingent competing in the new Champions League campaign. PSG taught Scottish champions Celtic a harsh footballing lesson. Monaco put on a less-than-impressive display in Germany, playing against Leipzig. Qualified automatically for Europe’s premier competition via their league placings, both teams were, of course, desperate for a positive beginning to their respective campaigns. Realistically, though, it was never going to be a hop, skip and a jump.
PSG pummel Celtic 5-0
In PSG’s way were Celtic, whose Parkhead, Glasgow cauldron of passion and frenzy has aided the Hoops in troubling, if not defeating, a small number of prominent European teams in recent history (notably Barcelona in 2012). But PSG’s glittering array of talent provided the French a huge upper hand—on paper at least. The deadly trio of £200 million man Neymar, along with his new forward partner Kylian Mbappé, and rounded off by the ever-dangerous Edinson Cavani, surely gave Celtic the pre-match jitters—despite their noisy home backing.
Evidently, their fear got the better of them. PSG romped to an extremely stylish 5-0 away victory—Celtic’s heaviest loss at home. Many have failed to come away from the East End of Glasgow with three points, so credit must go to capital club.
Neymar bagged the first with a lovely finish before Mbappé stroked home a second. Cavani’s penalty five minutes from the interval made sure of the points. Meanwhile, PSG blew Celtic off the park with their incisive passing sequences and mouth-watering attacking moves. The French side eased off in the second period but still managed to get the ball in the net on two more occasions. An unfortunate own goal by Mikael Lustig dampened the home crowd’s mood further. Then Cavani rounded off the scoring with an unbelievably brilliant header from the tightest of angles.
The match was a demonstration of quality football at the highest level.
Monaco draws 1-1 with RB Leipzig
PSG’s accomplishment Tuesday in Scotland put the pressure on Monaco for a French clean sweep in Germany on Wednesday.
Last season, Leipzig may well have battened down the hatches once proceedings were underway. But with the French (last season’s semi-finalists) approaching this game in erratic form and with a weakened squad, the Germans were always in with a chance. Take nothing away from Leipzig—they are a dangerous side and deserve their first-ever appearance in the Champions League. Nevertheless Monaco, on a good day, can devastate any opponent who lies in their way.
After a slow but tense opening half hour, Leipzig stung the French champions through Emil Forsberg’s sweet strike. Monaco responded swiftly and pegged Leipzig back with a scruffy Youri Tielemans equalizer. From there on in it remained cagey and uninspiring, although both sides will be pleased with themselves. Leipzig picked up a historic point while Monaco, who were fairly underwhelming, ensured they cleared their first hurdle without an OCG Nice-like disaster.