Paris Saint-Germain held off an inspired Juventus fightback to secure bragging rights in the UEFA Champions League opener at Parc des Princes.
Paris Saint-Germain ended their six-game losing streak to Juventus thanks to a first-half brace from Kylian Mbappe that left the visitors with a mountain to climb at half-time.
The Bianconeri were thoroughly outplayed in the first half, but to their credit, they rose to the challenge after the break and made a game of it. Substitute Weston McKennie pulled one back for the visitors in the 53rd minute, turning the tide on its head.
What followed was a sustained period of pressure from Juventus that kept the PSG defence on its heels. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma earned his pay with a series of sensational saves that saved his side’s blushes. In the end, Juventus could not beat the Italian international for a second time on the night and fell short of securing a point.
In many ways, the game exhibited exactly what is good and bad about Christophe Galtier’s side. When in flow, the PSG attack is unrelenting, but their defence is far from secure and can be usurped with the right application. There are teams far stronger than Juventus in the competition and could experience better fortunes in denting PSG’s aura of invincibility.
It's over! @PSG_English began its European season with a victory ? Juventus. ??
⚽️⚽️ @KMbappe #PSGJUV #UCL pic.twitter.com/PbkxKQy0TX
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 6, 2022
Juventus, meanwhile, can take heart from the encouraging second half display. Massimiliano Allegri’s men have looked flat in recent months and did well to rouse themselves out of the slumber in Paris. As long as they can maintain the same intensity going forward, the Bianconeri could give the Milan giants something to cry about in the Serie A title race. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sets of players fared on the night.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 7/10
The Italian international was forced into a sharp save from Arkadiusz Milik at point blank in the first half. His terrible misjudgement saw McKennie score early in the second half, giving Juventus a sniff at securing a draw.
He, however, redeemed himself by saving excellently from Dusan Vlahovic a minute later and then frustrating Manuel Locatelli twice in the 82nd minute. Donnarumma deserves credit for proving his worth especially when his team needed him the most.
2 – Gianluigi Donnarumma made his second error leading to an opponent's goal in six Champions League matches for Paris. This is already a record for a PSG player since Opta began analysing this data (2007/08). Mistakes. #PSGJuve #PSGJUV pic.twitter.com/e5n3kXeLLi
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 6, 2022
Presnel Kimpembe: 6/10
The Frenchman was strong physically and did well to limit Juan Cuadrado’s influence on the right. This gave Nuno Mendes the freedom to push forward. Kimpembe was not a standout performer on the night but did not put a foot wrong either.
The Brazilian did his best to keep the backline organised and it largely succeeded. While there were a few nervy moments, Marquinhos did well to keep Vlahovic quiet for larger sections of the match.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
The Spaniard’s lack of pace saw him struggle a couple of times, but Juventus never quite pushed him to the brink. Ramos made up for his lack of pace with his experience and intelligently snuffed out any danger. He also stayed true to reputation and earned himself an unnecessary yellow card in the first half.
Nuno Mendes: 7/10
The youngster enjoyed joy down the flank and constantly had the upper hand over Cuadrado. He made one particularly threatening run in the 49th move, but Neymar was unable to beat Mattia Perin in goal. Mendes also has to share some responsibility in losing McKennie for Juventus’s goal.
The Portuguese international was far from his best physically and it showed. He struggled to get going all night and arguably put in his worst outing in a PSG jersey. He was taken off late on for Danilo Pereira as Galtier sought to shut shop at the back.
Marco Verratti: 7/10
The right nickname for the Italian international would be the architect, given how he puts together the basis for PSG’s game plan. He connected the defence to the attack well and used excellent ball control to get out of some tight spaces. Verratti is now making it a habit of putting in a solid 7/10 every week.
Achraf Hakimi: 7/10
Hakimi enjoyed considerable joy down the flank and was involved in a tussle with Filip Kostic who did cause him some problems. The PSG ace supplied the assist for Neymar’s second and went forward whenever he could with intent.
Lionel Messi: 7/10
The Argentine might not have scored or assisted on the night but was critical in PSG’s attacking fluidity. He linked up well with Hakimi on the right and acted as an orchestrator for Neymar and Mbappe. It was not one of Messi’s colourful displays but was still key in ensuring the home side’s attack clicked. He was taken off in the second half, the first time he has failed to see out 90 minutes in a Champions League fixture after 63 straight games.
2014 – Lionel Messi was substituted in a Champions League match for the 1st time since 21 October 2014 with Barcelona against Ajax, the end of a run of 63 starts in the competition while playing all 90 minutes each time. Unusual. #PSGJuve #PSGJUV pic.twitter.com/FPO56ybRUL
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 6, 2022
Neymar linked well with Mbappe and provided the assist for the Frenchman’s opener with an expert lob. He was alert on the night and got some good opportunities to get himself on the scoresheet. Neymar, however, lacked the clinical touch and could not find a way past Perin.
Kylian Mbappe: 8/10
The Frenchman was at his clinical best in the first half hour and threatened to run away with it. A hard tackle from Gleison Bremer brought him back down to earth and he failed to rekindle his early enthusiasm. The damage was already done and PSG held out for all three points.
2 – Kylian Mbappé during the first half of #PSGJUV :
?3 touches in the opponent box
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 6, 2022
Danilo Pereira: 6/10
The Portuguese international came on for Vitinha in the second half and added numbers to the PSG defence.
Nordi Mukiele: 5/10
The summer signing came on for Hakimi and almost shot himself in the foot by handing Locatelli an opportunity to secure a draw. He lacked conviction and should do better.
Carlos Soler: 6/10
The former Valencia midfielder came on and was solid if uninspiring.
Renato Sanches: 6/10
A late substitute, the Portuguese midfielder kept things simple.
Mattia Perin: 7/10
The Italian once again impressed despite conceding two goals on the night. He kept the score respectable and made a particularly good save in the second half to deny Neymar.
The Brazilian was poor on the night and was terrorized by Hakimi on the flank. The Moroccan international got behind Danilo in the leadup to Mbappe’s second. All in all, a night to forget for the Juventus man.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
The veteran struggled to keep up with Mbappe and Neymar due to his lack of pace. He turned to his experience instead and made a few crucial interventions and interceptions.
Gleison Bremer: 6/10
The former Torino man made his UEFA Champions League debut on the night and immediately found himself at the end of a Mbappe masterclass. He caused a scuffle in the first half with a hard tackle on Mbappe that saw him earn a yellow card. It appeared to take the wind out of the Frenchman’s sails making life a little easier for Bremer for the rest of the game.
Juan Cuadrado: 5/10
The Colombian veteran was given the runaround by Mendes on the night and cut a frustrating figure on the wing. He did redeem himself by making two excellent crosses to Arkadiusz Milik and Dusan Vlahovic, both of whom forced smart saves from Donnarumma.
Leandro Paredes: 7/10
The Argentine impressed against his former team and was not afraid to stick his leg in when needed. He protected the Juventus defence well and also was not afraid to thread through forward passes when needed.
102 – Leandro Paredes made 102 touches against PSG, more than any other player in his debut match with Juventus in the Champions League since Opta started to collect this kind of data (since 2003/04). Structure.#PSGJuve pic.twitter.com/6Gm9htOmxR
— OptaPaolo ? (@OptaPaolo) September 6, 2022
Adrien Rabiot: 6/10
Another former PSG player who enjoyed a decent night back at Parc des Princes. He went up against Verratti and did not do much wrong.
Fabio Miretti: 4/10
A forgettable night out for the young Italian whose sole contribution was to earn a yellow card. He was taken off at half-time for McKennie, who breathed new life into the Juventus attack.
Filip Kostic: 6/10
The Serb caused Hakimi several problems and was arguably one of Juventus’s best players on the night. Solid in attack and defence, he provided the assist for McKennie’s goal.
Arkadiusz Milik: 5/10
The Polish international stung Donnarumma’s palms with a powerful header in the first half and looked up for the game. He made way for Locatelli in the 68th minute.
Dusan Vlahovic: 5/10
Marquinhos kept Vlahovic largely quiet, but the Serbian striker did manage to give his marker the slip a couple of times. He forced a save from Donnarumma in the second half but could not find a way past the Italian goalkeeper.
Weston McKennie: 8/10
The USMNT international was a lively presence and made an immediate impact off the bench. He brought Juventus back into the game with a 53rd minute strike before going close two minutes later. His presence added impetus to the Juventus attack and pushed PSG back in the second half. An inspired performance by the American.
? USMNT international Weston McKennie for Juventus today
☑️ 45 min
⚽️ 1 goal
? 100% successful dribbles
? 1 chance created
? 1 tackle won
? 90% passing
⚔️ 5 duels won
? 4 ball recoveries
✅ 7.4 fotmob rating
Strong performance off the bench. ? pic.twitter.com/UPljpjWfdk
— USMNT ?? (@USMNTTAKES) September 6, 2022
Manuel Locatelli: 7/10
The Italian international replaced Milik in the second half and added solidity to the midfield. Locatelli had a brilliant opportunity to draw his side level in the 82nd minute but failed with two bites of the cherry.
Mattia De Sciglio: 6/10
De Sciglio replaced Cuadrado in the 74th minute and was decent.
Moise Kean: N/A
The 87th minute substitute had little time to impact the result.
McKennie is a top talent and a big-game player. This reporter is not in the least surprised by the young American’s performance.