Champions League talking points: Paris Saint-Germain trio shine

There were big wins for some of Europe’s heavyweight clubs as the Champions League group stage got underway on Tuesday night.

Paris Saint-Germain crushed Celtic 5-0, while Chelsea put six past Azerbaijani side Qarabag. Meanwhile, Manchester United settled for a 3-0 victory over Basel.

Here, we pick out the key talking points from those matches…

PSG’s forward trio shine

Plenty has been said about whether PSG’s front three are worth the money the Qatari-backed club have spent on them. But the dominant display of new signings Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, combined with Edinson Cavani, shows the French club may have built an attacking trio capable of challenging for the Champions League.

Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani all produced on a night where a lot was expected, with two of them breaking records.

Cavani set a PSG club record with his 21st career Champions League goal for the club, surpassing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 20 goals.

Meanwhile, Mbappe equalled the record for most Champions League goals scored as a teenager (seven), which was exclusively held by Patrick Kluivert. To add to that, he is also the first-ever player to score a Champions League goal as a teenager for two different clubs (Monaco and PSG).

Perhaps the most worrying sign for opposition clubs is the front three look to already have an excellent understanding of each other’s movements. So the question for every opponent now is: How do we stop them?

Fringe players give Conte options

A number of Antonio Conte’s selections caught the eye before Chelsea’s Champions League opener against Qarabag at Stamford Bridge, most noticeably the absence of both Alvaro Morata and Victor Moses from the starting line-up.

In came Michy Batshuayi into the lone striker position and, most eye-catchingly, new boy Davide Zappacosta into the right wing-back berth.

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Quite apart from the three goals the two stand-ins plundered between them – Zappacosta’s a thing of beauty that will linger longer in the memory than this most routine of 6-0 victories – both players looked assured in their positions.

They fitted in seamlessly to the hyper-efficient machine which delivered the Premier League title to Stamford Bridge last season, offering Conte genuine options for when Champions League commitments begin to stretch his squad into the spring.

That’s assuming Chelsea find a way past Roma and Atletico Madrid and into the knock-out stages. On this evidence, there is the strength in depth here to navigate this group.

United’s unlikely hero

It was a sight that would have worried Manchester United fans when Paul Pogba’s hamstring injury forced him from the field during the first-half against Basel.

However, Marouane Fellaini’s performance in the Frenchman’s absence would have allayed those fears and the Belgium international followed up his goal against Leicester before the international break with another to set United on the way to a comfortable win.

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It was an eye-catching performance from the 29-year-old, who alongside Nemanja Matic, dominated the midfield, albeit against a Basel side who didn’t pose too many problems.

But depending on the severity of Pogba’s injury, Fellaini, who created United’s third for Marcus Rashford, could well be needed by to play a pivotal role in the coming weeks and Jose Mourinho will have no problems turning to him if he can produce performances like the one against Basel.

Marcus Rashford was another bright spot on what was a comfortable night for Mourinho’s men. The England international came on as a second-half substitute to score United’s third and the goal means he has scored in his Champions League, Europe League, Premier League and League Cup debuts for United and his England senior and Under-21 debuts.

Source.