In three friendly matches, Paris Saint-Germain has warmed up in the best possible way for Friday's Coupe de France against Saint-Etienne.
Locked down on several continents in March, the players of Paris Saint-Germain were not able to play together for almost 4 months, as the health crisis brought the world of football to a standstill.
Then, after being awarded the Ligue 1 title during lockdown, the training resumed gradually at the Ooredoo Centre: first in small groups, then in two separate teams, before the whole team could finally train together.
And then, in order to regain the pleasure of playing together, but also to raise fitness levels, it meant friendly matches. The club organised three matches to measure themselves.
Big wins to get back to action
9-0 against Le Havre, 7-0 against Belgian club Waasland-Beveren and 4-0 against Scottish outfit Celtic FC: a more than positive return for Paris Saint-Germain. Clinical.
With 20 goals scored and none conceded in three games, Paris flexed their muscle. The entire defence and the three goalkeepers (Navas, Rico and Bulka) earned the clean sheets, while the attacking strike force quickly found its feet in the attacking third.
Nine Parisians got the goals: three goals from Mauro Icardi, a brace from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, one goal in each of the three games for Kylian Mbappe, no fewer than four for Neymar Jr, three for Pablo Sarabia, and also goals from Idrissa Gueye and Ander Herrera. The icing on the cake was the fact that these friendly matches also saw Loic Mbe Soh and Arnaud Kalimuendo score their first-ever professional goals.
Match rhythm for everyone
No less than 24 players were called up by Thomas Tuchel in these three matches. Changing 10 of the 11 players at half time against Le Havre, constant rotation during the 4 quarters of 30 minutes against Waasland-Beveren, and replacing the whole team for the second half against Celtic: the German coach was able to largely rotate his squad in order to give all the players’ time on the pitch.
Kays Ruiz-Atil, Timothée Pembélé and Arnaud Kalimuendo also took advantage of the new season to play their first-ever matches with the professional squad.
All three games were a spectacle for the club's fans in the capital, from Neymar Jr's no look pass to Pablo Sarabia's superb strike from Marco Verratti's chipped ball, Mauro Icardi's audacious penalty and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's sublime double.
They allowed the players to play, and celebrate together on the pitch, but also and above all to allow the Parc des Princes to reopen its doors.
Finally, the Parisians approached these encounters with discipline and respect for their opponents.
"I'm happy because we were serious, we did what we had to do to win, to score four goals without conceding, and without the slightest injury. These are friendly matches, but we were very serious, we put a lot of intensity into them, and it was good to reach the Cup finals with confidence, to show that we can score and suffer too," Thomas Tuchel told PSGTV after the last victory.
Now Paris Saint-Germain have to step up to the next level and get back into the thick of the competition. Les Parisiens will take on Saint-Etienne in the Stade de France on Friday for the Coupe de France final, before taking on Olympique Lyonnais for the last ever Coupe de la Ligue final. They will then fly to Portugal for the quarter-final of the Champions League.
The business end has arrived.