TDC: PSG make it six in a row!
By S. Willis
Angel Di Maria starred for Paris Saint-Germain with a brace in a 4-0 victory over AS Monaco that secured the capital club a record-equalling sixth consecutive Trophée des Champions in Shenzhen, China, on Saturday.
4 August, 2018
Trophée des Champions
Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre, Shenzhen
Thomas Tuchel's Paris Saint-Germain side successfully defended their first title of the season in sweltering heat on Saturday, going level with record-holders Olympique Lyonnais by claiming a sixth consecutive Trophée des Champions title.
After much pre-match talk of either coach's opting for a three-man defence, both chose 4-3-3 formations with a host of young players on the teamsheet in the absence of World Cup stars such as Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé.
Nonetheless, it was Argentina's World Cup star Angel Di Maria who got things rolling with a superb free-kick just after the half-hour mark (33'), allowing Paris to put debutant 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon's early scare at the hands of a point-blank Kamil Glik header (14') behind them. Youngster Christopher Nkunku followed up soon after with a tap-in after left-back Stanley Nsoki had crossed low and hard behind the Monaco rear-guard (39') and the capital club went into the break well on top.
More of the same... plus Neymar!
Monaco, in a rebuilding stage after losing a number of talented players - Fabinho and Thomas Lemar to name just two - in the transfer window, struggled to impose themselves in a midfield dominated by the complementary talents of Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti.
PSG converted their domination into a third goal as the excellent Nsoki skinned Andrea Raggi on the edge of the area before cutting back for Timothy Weah - son of Liberian president and former PSG superstar 'Mister' George Weah - who calmly slotted a first-time finish home between the legs of Diego Benaglio (67').
A few minutes later, the Chinese fans got what they had been waiting for when Neymar Jr took the field in place of Verratti (76'), and the Brazilian duly obliged with a few sharp moves. However, it was the rambunctious Rabiot who made an almost unopposed 50-metre charge through the middle of the park before playing Di Maria in to coolly bag his second and complete Paris' 4-0 win (90'+3).
THE PLAYER: Angel Di Maria
Argentina may have disappointed some fan at the recent World Cup, but Angel Di Maria showed in Shenzehn that he has lost nothing of his quality nor his quietly tenacious competitive spirit. Seemingly indefatigable in the stifling heat, Di Maria worked hard for his team from beginning to end, scoring his side's first and last goals while also going close with three clear-cut chances (15', 43', 54') and providing another for the excellent Nsoki. Tuchel will doubtless have more than a few selection headaches in the coming season after Cavani, Mbappé and Neymar are back in the swing, but he will be hard-pressed to leave a player of Di Maria's evident class on the bench for too long.
THE STAT: 7
Paris Saint-Germain now have an impressive seven consecutive wins over Monaco in all competitions, stretching a run that dates back to when the two sides drew 1-1 in Ligue 1 Conforama in January 2017. Paris haven't lost to Monaco - their biggest rival in French football in recent years, and the side who broke their dominance in the league in 2016-17 - since 28 August 2016 (3-1 in Ligue 1 Conforama). Seven also happens to be the number of consecutive Trophée des Champions titles Paris will have should they manage to repeat the feat next season.