Di Maria and PSG ready for Rennes test
By I. Holyman
In-form Angel Di Maria will be a major threat to Stade Rennais FC on Sunday when Paris Saint-Germain head to Brittany with vengeance in mind.
Stade Rennais FC - Paris Saint-Germain
The pair have become familiar foes in recent months with Rennes beating PSG in the Coupe de France final last season while the capital club got some comfort from their 2-1 Trophée des Champions win over the Bretons barely a fortnight ago.
That victory in Shenzhen came courtesy of a stunning free-kick winner from PSG's Argentina international wizard, who has hit the ground running at the start of his fifth season in the Rouge-et-Bleu shirt.
"I think you never stop improving. You can be 20-years-old or 30-years-old. Each season brings new surprises and we are always learning. I think it's especially true here where there are so many great players with whom you can learn so much. Obviously I have more experience now, but I am not resting on that. I want to always keep improving, always," the 31-year-old told PSG's official website, adding his passionate goal celebration in China had its roots in the painful penalty shoot-out loss in the Coupe de France final.
WATCH: PSG open 2019/20 with a win
"I celebrated like that because it was a final and we want to win every final. We still had the memory of last season's Coupe de France final loss to them. I carry it with me. We had a lot of regrets after that final and I just let all that joy and rage explode out of me when I scored because I was very happy and we were able to win the Trophée des Champions."
Tuchel: 'Near perfect'
Di Maria came off the bench at the Parc des Princes to score PSG's third as they opened their Ligue 1 Conforama title defence with a 3-0 defeat of Nîmes Olympique in which last season's leading goalscorer Kylian Mbappé also found the net. That strike added to the FIFA World Cup winner's own Trophée des Champions goal and left Thomas Tuchel delighted with his side's opening 90 minutes of league football in the 2019/20 season.
"It was a near-perfect evening," said the German tactician. "There are always things to improve, but we controlled the match well. Certain players only resumed training with us ten days ago, so I’m very happy with what we did tonight. We kept our structure and we kept on our gegenpressing. That allowed us to win the ball back higher up the pitch and quicker and this was a deserved win."
The cloud of the evening came in the form of a foot injury to Thilo Kehrer, who is out for up to three weeks, joining Neymar Jr on the sidelines as the imbroglio over the Brazilian's future at the club continues.
WATCH: Rennes off to races with a win
Rennes also triumphed in their opening match of the new season with Jérémy Morel's early goal enough to give them victory at Montpellier Hérault SC. It was three points that also came at a cost, however, as new signing Flavien Tait was sent off on his league debut for his new club.
"We're a team that is still being reconstructed," said Stéphan, who this week saw Ramy Bensebaini move to Borussia Mönchengladbach and join the likes of Benjamin André, Hatem ben Arfa, Tomas Koubek and Ismaïla Sarr in leaving Roazhon Park this summer after being first-team regulars last term.
"The team is already well structured tactically. We need a bit more time to gain in control. We're going to enjoy this win first before preparing well for our game in Paris. We're going to prepare to suffer."
Rennes: to follow
PSG: to follow