Angel Di Maria stepped up in the absence of Paris Saint-Germain's first-choice attacking trio by delivering a double in a 3-0 Champions League victory over a lacklustre Real Madrid.

Thomas Tuchel was unable to pick the suspended Neymar or injured duo Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani for the Group A clash at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday, but Di Maria played a starring role against his former club.

Despite having Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale on the field together for the first time, Madrid lacked sharpness and were put to the sword by the Argentina international twice inside 33 minutes.

Bale had what would have been a spectacular goal ruled out for handball after a VAR review and Zinedine Zidane's side were punished for failing to register a single shot on target when Thomas Meunier compounded their misery at the culmination of a stoppage-time counter-attack.

Pablo Sarabia appealed for a penalty when he kicked the ball against the arm of Eder Militao – making his first Madrid start with Sergio Ramos suspended – in the first minute, but on that occasion referee Anthony Taylor was unmoved.

PSG were rewarded for their vibrant start in the 14th minute when Mauro Icardi, handed a full debut after his deadline-day loan move from Inter, combined with Juan Bernat, who squared for Di Maria to stab past Thibaut Courtois at his near post.

After Hazard and Bale fired narrowly off target, PSG doubled their lead when Idrissa Gueye teed up Di Maria and the ex-Madrid winger fired a stunning drive home from the edge of the box.

Bale thought he had halved the deficit two minutes later when he lobbed former team-mate Keylor Navas, only for a VAR intervention to reveal the ball touched his arm while he juggled it before shooting.

Di Maria scooped a chance to complete his hat-trick over before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting replaced Icardi in the 60th minute, while Courtois did well to keep out Sarabia.

After PSG lost Marquinhos to injury, Benzema had a goal ruled out for offside and headed narrowly wide with 12 minutes remaining.

Madrid crumbled in the 91st minute when full-backs Meunier and Bernat surged forward and the Belgian slotted home to round off an impressive win for the hosts against the shot-shy 13-time champions of Europe. 

 

What does it mean? PSG in pole position

With Club Brugge and Galatasaray – who played out a 0-0 draw earlier on Wednesday – the other teams in Group A, PSG and Madrid have been tipped to battle it out for top spot. Victory over Los Blancos in Paris handed Tuchel's team the advantage, and when they visit the Santiago Bernabeu in November they should prove even more dangerous opponents with Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani likely to be available for selection.

Formidable Gueye dictates the play

Gueye was everywhere for PSG, dominating the midfield in a way that offered Marco Verratti more creative license. The Senegal international showed great energy to maintain the high press and stifle Madrid, while also adding an assist for Di Maria's second goal.

Militao missing at key moments

When Bernat burst down the left to set up the opener, Militao made no move to get across and put Di Maria under pressure. The Brazil international then allowed Di Maria to peel off him far too easily before he drilled in the second.

What's next?

PSG face a tricky trip to Lyon in Ligue 1 on Sunday, with Madrid visiting LaLiga leaders Sevilla on the same day.

Neymar was met by boos on his return to action for Paris Saint-Germain and Thomas Tuchel will understand if supporters continue to subject him to jeers.

The Brazil international, who is suspended for Wednesday's Champions League clash with reported suitors Real Madrid, shrugged off the rough treatment to score a spectacular overhead kick winner in a 1-0 victory over Strasbourg on Saturday.

Neymar said afterwards that all matches would be "away games" for him now, having irked fans with his desire to leave the club in the last transfer window.

Tuchel reiterated there is no issue between him and the former Barcelona star, but can see why fans may choose not to forgive Neymar for his actions.

"He did not want to be here. He tried everything that was in his power [to leave the club]," Tuchel told DAZN. 

"That did not help make him popular. You could feel that and I can understand it, if the crowd are angry, even permanently.

"Nevertheless, there is also a side between me as a coach and him as a player. There was never a break or a discrepancy. That's why it was very easy for me to let him play.

"He has always trained professionally. I feel that the decision was a relief to him, even though it fell against his wish.

"Then the concentration and reflection on the task automatically occurs. As an athlete you will not have much else left. You have to give gas. He is hungry and a competitive guy who always wants to win.

"He has to withstand it now, that's the reality. He has to go through, we have to go through all in the home games a bit. The best thing is to come to terms with it."

Keeping Neymar amid interest from Barcelona was Paris Saint-Germain's most important piece of business in the transfer window, according to his team-mate Marco Verratti.

Brazil star Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Barca, whom he left two years ago in a world-record €222million move.

The two clubs held meetings and Barca confirmed their interest in the forward, but their reported offer of €130m plus Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele – the latter apparently having been offered on loan – fell short when the former Borussia Dortmund winger rejected a proposed switch.

As such, many consider PSG's Champions League chances to be greater, and although suspension rules him out of their first two games of the European campaign, Verratti believes retaining Neymar's services was the best bit of recruitment work the club did in the transfer window.

"We need players like Neymar or Kylian [Mbappe], who are a bit above everyone else," Verratti told reporters.

"Neymar had a difficult time with off-field moments that have somewhat destabilised him, but when he learned that he was staying, I saw him with a smile as always.

"He loves football, he is a player who will help us a lot. We are lucky to have him in Paris, we must enjoy him. I know the fans have not forgotten [what happened], but I hope Neymar will do everything [to forget the drama] and we will celebrate all this together at the end of the season.

"In football, there are always some nice moments and I hope that it will end well. Neymar will give 110 per cent.

"Neymar is perhaps the most important player we recruited. There are more favoured teams than us, but we will give everything.

"If we go out, it'll because the opponents are better than us, but I do not want to go out and have regrets like last year [against Manchester United]."

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will all miss PSG's Group A opener against Real Madrid on Wednesday, meaning Mauro Icardi could lead the line at the Parc des Princes.

The Argentina forward featured as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Strasbourg on Saturday and, although Verratti accepts he is still integrating, he is confident Icardi will prove his worth.

"It takes a little more time to get to know everyone, but it's easy to play with him," Verratti said of the on-loan Inter forward.

"He can score at any time. He can help us, he knows how to play with his team-mates and we are happy.

"We have to wait a bit to see the real Icardi. He has been out for a long time, but he is a magnificent player."

Neymar has had his European suspension reduced from three matches to two on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The ban, extending across all UEFA competitions, was imposed upon the Paris Saint-Germain forward following his foul-mouthed Instagram outburst about the match officials who presided over the club's Champions League loss to Manchester United in March.

Neymar was upset with the awarding of a late penalty in the second-leg meeting at Parc des Princes, which knocked PSG out of the competition at the last-16 stage.

"This is a disgrace, they put four people that know nothing about football in charge of looking at the replay for VAR," he wrote at the time.

"There is no penalty. How can it be a handball when it hits his back! Go f*** yourselves!"

Neymar's initial appeal was rejected by UEFA in June but CAS has seen fit to lower the ban to two European games, the smallest possible sanction under the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.

The decision means the Brazil international will be eligible to feature in the Champions League trip to Club Brugge on October 22, PSG's third Group A fixture.

Thomas Tuchel's men first face Real Madrid in Paris on Wednesday and Galatasaray in Istanbul on October 1.

Having attempted to secure a return to Barcelona during the close-season transfer window, Neymar only returned to the pitch for PSG over the weekend.

The 27-year-old marked his club comeback with a spectacular stoppage-time winner in the 1-0 victory over Strasbourg in Ligue 1.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo admits not everything is resolved with Neymar, but he wants the constant talk around the player to end.

Having failed to secure his desired move back to Barcelona in the transfer window, Neymar made his first appearance of the season in Saturday's Ligue 1 meeting with Strasbourg.

The Brazil star was booed by PSG fans with almost every touch but went on to score the winning goal in the 1-0 victory with a stunning overhead kick in the 92nd minute.

The 27-year-old said afterwards that he expects every game to be like an away match given PSG fans' frustration with his desire to leave the club.

Leonardo is not prepared to ignore Neymar's determination to force an exit just two years on from his €222million arrival, but he insists his compatriot should be allowed the freedom to make amends without scrutiny of his every word and action.

"Neymar made mistakes, yes, but when the transfer window ended he came back in a positive way," Leonardo told RMC.

"He showed up on time [for training] after his matches with Brazil and he behaved very well. He played an important game in not easy conditions. And he scored a spectacular goal, in a Hollywood scenario. And, after the match, he made an honest and very good statement.

"It's certain that, if we look at what he said word for word, we'll always find things to comment on. And it's true that we can't say today that everything is settled. But you can't make a Mexican telenovela around it all. We have to play and to train.

"He is now subject to the same internal rules as all the other players. He's here and he's part of the club.

"Neymar is not a bad guy. He's part of the heritage of football, not just PSG. When you look at the squad, and what we have, for sure we are stronger with him."

PSG meet Real Madrid at Parc des Princes on Tuesday in their opening Champions League group game, with Neymar unavailable due to a three-game suspension.

Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe are set to miss out through injury, leaving Mauro Icardi and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as PSG's primary attacking options.

If losing your manager was bad enough, imagine losing your star defender?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and centre-back Virgil van Dijk are attracting some serious interest from across Europe.

Now, LaLiga's powerhouse duo are reportedly eyeing the Reds pair.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID WANT KLOPP AND VAN DIJK

According to AS, LaLiga champions Barcelona and rivals Real Madrid are set to go head-to-head to try to prise Klopp and Van Dijk from Liverpool.

Klopp and Van Dijk helped lead Liverpool to Champions League glory last season, while the Reds are challenging for Premier League honours this term having narrowly missed out to Manchester City in 2018-19.

With Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde and Madrid counterpart Zinedine Zidane under some early pressure in Spain, Klopp and Van Dijk are reportedly "two priorities" for both clubs.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid have the budget to sign Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season, reports AS. Madrid's financial accounts have been revealed, with €156million in liquid assets at their disposal, as well as €285m in credit. Los Blancos are reportedly planning to persuade the France forward, who is contracted until 2022, not to re-sign in the French capital in an effort to force the club's hand.

Lionel Messi to MLS? There has been talk about Messi and David Beckham's incoming franchise Inter Miami following a report claiming a delegation had been sent out to open negotiations for the Barcelona captain. However, Goal says Messi has had no contact with Beckham's Miami.

Manchester United are trying everything to re-sign star goalkeeper David de Gea. According to the Times, United have offered De Gea a new contract with no wage drop if the Red Devils do not qualify for the Champions League. The Spain international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, reportedly has a four-year deal on the table worth £13.5m a season.

- Staying at Old Trafford, and Record and O Jogo both report United are back in for Benfica star Ruben Dias. The 22-year-old defender was linked to the Manchester club before the transfer window closed. Now reports claim a United official was in attendance for Benfica's 2-0 win over Gil Vicente.

Inter are hoping to sign Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund, according to Calciomercato.com. Gotze's contract expires at the end of the season and Antonio Conte's Inter are eyeing the Germany attacker on a free transfer.

- Velez Sarsfield's Thiago Almada is still on the radar of Manchester City, says Record. City had a bid rejected during the transfer window but Pep Guardiola's side remain keen on the 18-year-old.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel said Neymar had to accept the boos from fans after he marked his return with a spectacular winner against Strasbourg.

Playing his first game of the season for PSG, Neymar produced a moment of magic in additional time, scoring an acrobatic goal to lift PSG to a 1-0 win on Saturday.

But the Brazil star was targeted by his own fans, booed after an off-season transfer saga during which he reportedly pushed for a return to Barcelona.

Tuchel said the 27-year-old needed to accept being booed by supporters, but he praised Neymar's response.

"It was not easy because he is a sensitive guy, but he did well," he told a news conference.

"That's the life, it's not easy for the fans too during the transfer market. That's why we have to accept their behaviour. I don't want to judge their behaviour, it's like that. It was not easy.

"He can play better, with more dribbling and more accelerations. He needs several games in order to find the right rhythm and his physical abilities to make our game faster with his sprints.

"He has the quality to decide the destiny of a game. I am happy he showed that in the last minute."

PSG hold a two-point lead atop Ligue 1 after claiming their fourth victory in five league games.

They host Real Madrid in a blockbuster Champions League clash on Wednesday.

Neymar claimed he can handle hostility from Paris Saint-Germain fans and "personal reasons" were behind his desire to quit the club.

The Brazil forward was jeered by PSG's supporters during Saturday's Ligue 1 victory over Strasbourg at the Parc des Princes.

Neymar secured all three points for his side with a spectacular bicycle kick in injury time.

He celebrated the goal but opted not to acknowledge the crowd at the full-time whistle as he quickly departed the pitch.

It was the 27-year-old’s first club appearance of the season, Neymar having not been selected by PSG coach Thomas Tuchel amid speculation over his future.

Neymar had reportedly hankered for a move to former club Barcelona only for it to not materialise before the transfer window closed.

A PSG ultra group accused Neymar of being "disrespectful" and condemned the way he "humiliated" the club with his behaviour during the saga.

However, the player insisted there were justifiable reasons behind his desire to leave as he vowed to ignore any antagonism.

"I've played in several stadiums being booed. It's sad, but I know from now on it's going to be like playing every game away from home," Neymar told reporters.

"I make it clear that I have nothing against the fans, nor anything against Paris Saint-Germain, but everyone knows I wanted to leave, and I made that clear.

"There were some reasons, mostly personal [for wanting to leave PSG]. I make it clear that it was nothing against PSG and not the fans. 

"But when you don't feel good at one job, you look for another. For personal reasons. I had mine, and I wanted to leave."

Neymar refused to delive into the specific reasons why he was unable to secure a move away from PSG.

But with his immediate future now with the defending French champions he has promised to draw a line under the transfer saga and give his all for PSG's cause.

"I will not go into details of what happened in the negotiations. The people here know what happened and this is a turned page," he added.

"I made it very clear to everyone and did my best, but unfortunately they didn't.

"Today I am a PSG player and I promise to give everything on the pitch, fulfil my role and be happy on the pitch. I repeat there are no problems.

"This is a turned page. This is the first time I'm talking about it, and it will be the last. From now on my head is in Paris."

Neymar was given a hostile reception by Paris Saint-Germain supporters but scored a brilliant volleyed winner in a 1-0 victory over Strasbourg on his return to action.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel did not select Neymar while there was uncertainty over the Brazil international's future, amid speculation he was trying to engineer a return to Barcelona.

The close of the transfer window ensured the 27-year-old would remain with the Ligue 1 side for the immediate future and he appeared at club level for the first time this season on Saturday.

Neymar was booed by large sections of the home support whenever he touched the ball but he had the last word in injury time with a stunning overhead kick to give PSG the points.

Neymar will make his first appearance for Paris Saint-Germain this season after being named in the starting line-up for Saturday's game with Strasbourg, while there is also a debut for Keylor Navas.

Forward Neymar has not featured in the 2019-20 campaign at club level amid speculation over his future in the French capital, while he was also been hampered by injury.

However, the 27-year-old played twice for Brazil during the recent international break, starting in the 2-2 friendly draw against Colombia before coming off the bench four days later in the 1-0 loss to Peru.

With Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani both missing and talk of a return to Barcelona over - for now at least - with the transfer window closed, Thomas Tuchel has selected Neymar for the Ligue 1 fixture at Parc des Princes.

There is no spot in the XI for Mauro Icardi, though the striker could still make his first appearance for his new club as he is among the list of substitutes.

Goalkeeper Navas, meanwhile, also comes into the team following his arrival from Real Madrid.

Teenager Marcin Bulka started in PSG's previous outing, a 2-0 triumph at Metz, but is not in the matchday squad, Sergio Rico - signed on a season-long loan from Sevilla - named instead as the back-up option on the bench.

Neymar has been warned to expect a rough reception from the Paris Saint-Germain ultras on Saturday after they claimed he has "humiliated" their club.

The Brazil international joined PSG from Barcelona in a world-record €222million move two years ago and, although he has generally performed well for the French champions when fit, he has been accused of doing little to dampen down repeated links with a return to Camp Nou.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu was reported to have told key players he was confident of securing Neymar's return and last week he confirmed talks were held between the two clubs.

Reports claimed Barca made an offer of approximately €130m plus Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele on loan, but the latter's reticence prompted the deal to collapse.

Neymar was said to have been angered by PSG sporting director Leonardo asking him to release a statement insisting he no longer wanted to leave ahead of PSG's Ligue 1 opener, and that silence has not gone down well with the club's supporters as the forward prepares to make his first club appearance of the season.

"In a footballing sense, Neymar is one of the greatest players of his generation, but that's far from the most important thing for us today [Saturday]," read a statement from Collectif Ultras Paris ahead of the visit of Strasbourg.

"What we reproach him for is being disrespectful on several occasions towards our club, even to have humiliated it at times.

"He has put in place a disastrous communication strategy to try and force a move to Barcelona, one of our main European rivals, leaving his entourage to speak in his place... except when it comes to discussing his best memories [Neymar citing Barcelona's comeback against PSG as his favourite football moment].

"At a time when he has made no public statement, let alone an apology, he will soon return to the field at the Parc des Princes, and we are legitimately more than sceptical about him playing another season in our jersey.

"The Virage Auteuil, in which the most loyal supporters of the club are grouped [at Parc des Princes], has the duty to show him that all his actions cannot be without consequence.

"Therefore, we invite all the Parisian supporters who have felt hurt at one point or another to show him that he no longer has the right to make mistakes and the path of redemption will be long... very long. It's out of the question that we will penalise the team due to a single player."

Ernesto Valverde wants to move on from the Neymar transfer saga as he fears it could have a negative effect on Barcelona.

The Brazil international is rumoured to have been desperate for a return to his former club, two years after leaving for Ligue 1 giants PSG in a world-record €222million deal, but nothing materialised before the September 2 deadline.

Neymar's future remains a hot topic of discussion after Barcelona star Lionel Messi said this week he does not know if his side did everything possible to bring his former team-mate back to Camp Nou.

Valverde was not in the mood to discuss Messi's interview during Friday's news conference, however, telling reporters: "Was this not over? It is done.

"We've been speaking about Neymar before the window, during it and now afterwards we're still talking about him. 

"It's time to turn the page. He's a very good player. The market closed days ago. 

"He's a great player, I know everyone has their opinion. Talking about these things is bad for the club. I do not like it.

"I didn't read the interview. Everyone looks at Leo with binoculars. There is no need to attach too much importance."

Barcelona are rumoured to have offered PSG cash plus players for Neymar, with Ivan Rakitic among those touted as a possible makeweight.

The Croatia midfielder has been restricted to just 44 minutes of football in Barca's first three LaLiga matches due to increased competition for a starting place, but Valverde is prepared to rotate with seven matches in the next 23 days.

"I don't think he's affected in any kind of way," Valverde said. "There's no reason for him to feel that way. 

"We've got a lot of players in midfield - if Rakitic doesn't play it's the same as Arthur, [Arturo] Vidal, [Carles] Alena, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets. Whoever I don't play is going to be a story.

"Evidently they can't all play and there's competition for places. Sergio Busquets is a fixed player [in the starting XI] and that limits chances even more.

"There's time to start thinking about what type of rotations work and do not work in those positions."

Ander Herrera is excited to play alongside Neymar and believes the Brazilian can challenge fellow Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe to win the Ballon d'Or.

The 27-year-old made his return from injury by featuring twice for Brazil during the international break and is in contention to start PSG's Ligue 1 clash with Strasbourg on Saturday.

Neymar has finished third in the Ballon d'Or running in two of the last four seasons and, despite missing Brazil's Copa America triumph and the opening month of PSG's title defence, Herrera thinks he will be in the running to be crowned the world's greatest player.

Herrera, who is in line to make his first league appearance for the Parisians since joining from Manchester United during the close season, also rates striker Mbappe and midfielder Marco Verratti among the best around.

"[Neymar] is one of the five best players in the world and a candidate for the gold ball with Mbappe," he told reporters.

"I'm excited and happy to play with Neymar. For me, it's great. This is an incredible opportunity for me to play with players like Neymar, like Kylian Mbappe or Marco Verratti, who can for me become the best midfielder very soon. 

"We are going to make sure that he has his best season and that he is even better."

Neymar is available for Paris Saint-Germain and ready to face Strasbourg on Saturday, coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

Neymar has not played for PSG yet this season having been sidelined by injury and speculation over his future in the French capital.

He was a target for former club Barcelona during the transfer window but the LaLiga champions were unable to seal a deal with PSG.

Neymar then made his comeback from injury during the international break, featuring for Brazil in a pair of friendly matches against Colombia and Peru.

Speaking at his pre-match news conference on Friday, Tuchel said Neymar is ready to be recalled into the PSG squad for Saturday's visit of Strasbourg.

"Neymar's return is well-timed given fellow forwards Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will both miss the game due to injury," Tuchel told reporters.

"Yes, clearly yes, of course, now everything is clear, we know our group, I'm very happy, we have a lot of talent, we have Neymar in our group, we have nothing else in our head, Ney too, and he can focus on us.

"We miss Edi and Kylian, so he needs to get back and he's available tomorrow."

Neymar has yet to speak openly about the transfer saga involving Barcelona, but former team-mate Lionel Messi is among those to have talked about the potential deal.

Messi was reportedly pushing hard for Neymar to be targeted by PSG, while sporting director Leonardo confirmed the 27-year-old had made it clear he wanted to leave Paris.

PSG were open to offers for the Brazil forward but reportedly rejected cash-plus-players deals proposed by Barcelona, with Tuchel now expecting Neymar to refocus on his third PSG campaign - although he will be serving a suspension when his team face Real Madrid in the Champions League next week.

"I'm convinced that Neymar will give everything to help us achieve our goals this season," he added.

"It is the challenge for me to find a balance between always talking with him or not talking to him.

"Life is not too hard for Ney to live and play in Paris, it's not too bad either... if we talk about all the things that Ney said, that his father said, that Barcelona said... We're going to lose our heads, I want to look forward, he'll get his smile back and then we'll see."

Page 1 of 38
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.