Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel believes the absence of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe may have helped his team during the 3-0 UEFA Champions League win over Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Angel Di Maria scored twice, and Thomas Meunier also got on the board as PSG dominated the Spanish giants. Per the Mirror's Rich Jones, Tuchel said his team was able to play with less pressure due to not being favourites:
"Maybe the absence of Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe helped the team. Maybe the pressure was less, because everybody was wondering how we could win without those three players.
"It can help because we weren't favourites without Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani. It could have taken some of the pressure off the players."
PSG's record against Los Blancos going into the contest was poor:
🇫🇷 PSG hadn't beaten 🇪🇸 Real Madrid since Ginola & Weah silenced the Bernabeu 2⃣5⃣ years ago 🤫🔇 😨 They were without Neymar, Mbappe & Cavani 🍜 Fortunately 'The Noodle' determined defeat was on the menu for his former club 🤩 🇦🇷 Angel Di Maria, take a bow 🙇♂️ https://t.co/zAFzefjpkF
Their chances were diminished by a suspension for Neymar and injuries to both Mbappe and Cavani, forcing Tuchel to field a makeshift front three. Summer signing Mauro Icardi played through the centre, flanked by Di Maria and Pablo Sarabia, another summer pick up. The latter two in particular were standouts for the French champions.
Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani were all in the stadium to cheer their team-mates on:
Real manager Zinedine Zidane was far from pleased with his team's performance:
Los Blancos had a goal from Gareth Bale ruled out by the video assistant but didn't threaten former star stopper Keylor Navas the rest of the evening.
Zidane's troops have not started the season well, winning just two of their four La Liga matches and conceding six goals in the process. Injuries have been a major problem early in the campaign, with summer signing Eden Hazard making his first start in Paris.
PSG's start has been far better, despite the summer turmoil and a number of injury concerns of their own. A 2-1 loss against Rennes remains the only on-field setback so far for the team, who have won four of five in Ligue 1 and lead the standings.
Per Jones, Neymar was linked with a move away from the club throughout the summer and didn't play a minute of football until the transfer window closed.
He returned in Saturday's win over Strasbourg, where he was loudly jeered by the home fans before scoring a last-minute winner: