Veterans Angel Di Maria, Dani Alves launch PSG into the quarterfinals
Paris Saint-Germain gained some measure of revenge for their recent Ligue 1 loss away at Strasbourg with a 4-2 win Wednesday to successfully launch their Coupe de la Ligue title defence at Stade de la Meinau.
Angel Di Maria, Dani Alves and Julian Draxler all scored as Unai Emery's men marched into the quarterfinals.
Considering all of the personnel problems PSG had coming into this one, a relatively straightforward win over a tricky Strasbourg side was a best-case scenario pre-match. The hosts managed to score twice but the French capital outfit successfully managed to avoid extra time and penalties.
Di Maria was handed another chance to salvage his Parc des Princes career, and after a goal and an assist against Lille OSC in Ligue 1 last weekend, he contributed similarly here.
Thomas Meunier has been crying out for chances at right-back recently, and given one against Strasbourg, he did not disappoint. The Belgium international provided two assists, including one for positional rival Alves.
Overall and all things considered, there were not too many serious problems in this match. However, PSG's central defensive unit was poor. Stand-in captain Marquinhos, partner Presnel Kimpembe and goalkeeper Kevin Trapp were all not good enough and contributed heavily towards Strasbourg's two goals.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Emery did a good job aligning and motivating a starting XI to win such a complicated match, and although he could perhaps have given some of the substitute youth academy graduates a run out, his formation change and choices on the night produced the right result.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kevin Trapp, 4 -- The German could do nothing to keep Strasbourg's first goal out, but he could and should have done much more on the second. Opportunity to impress missed with January fast approaching.
DF Thomas Meunier, 7 -- The Belgium international has had to be very patient and wait for a chance in the starting XI, and when it came, he took it. Two assists going forward and solid individual display at the back. He even showed how healthy his competition with Alves is by celebrating the goal that he laid on with the Brazilian.
DF Marquinhos, 4 -- The Brazilian's difficult run of form continued with another lacking display in Strasbourg. After getting battered off the pitch last time, he did not do himself any favours here and was particularly guilty on the hosts' second goal.
DF Presnel Kimpembe, 4 -- Like Marquinhos, the youth academy graduate did not cover himself with glory. The Frenchman should have done better on Strasbourg's first goal and lacked authority throughout the game.
DF Dani Alves, 5 -- Deployed in an unfamiliar left-back role. Emery's decision not to field the versatile Alec Georgen instead of the Brazil international could be questioned. However, a goal by the evergreen South American ultimately proved the manager right to go for experience over potential. It was not Alves' best outing, but all things taken into account, it will do.
MF Marco Verratti, 5 -- The Italy international spent 82 minutes struggling for his footing on the Stade de la Meinau pitch, and it was a good metaphor for his evening overall, as he struggled for a real foothold in the match. He also showed a lack of discipline in regularly speaking back to the officials and was lucky not to be booked.
MF Giovani Lo Celso, 5 -- The Argentinian was not at his best as part of the two-man central midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but he did his best for the 90 minutes.
FW Julian Draxler, 5 -- The Germany international scored with pretty much his only real contribution of the match. It was a well-taken goal, but aside from one other shot, which was saved, you could have been forgiven for forgetting that he was even on the pitch for most of his 78-minute outing.
MF Javier Pastore, 4 -- Not involved enough. The Argentinian showed his eye for key passes by attempting a few, but it was too little. Once again, his physicality counted against him in Strasbourg.
FW Angel Di Maria, 7 -- Much better from the Argentina international, who spent more time on the left than the right. El Fideo forced PSG's opener and scored the second. Fortunate on both? Yes, absolutely, but the most important thing was that the intent was clearly there. There might be life in the old dog yet, or he is just putting himself in the January window? Perhaps a bit of both.
FW Edinson Cavani, 4 -- Minus the result, the Uruguay international will want to forget his second trip to Strasbourg. Two first-half misses, especially the second, summed up a disappointing night in front of goal.
CF Kylian Mbappe, NR -- The France international got only 12 minutes at the end in place of Cavani but still found time to hit the post with a powerful effort.
MF Christopher Nkunku, NR -- The youth academy graduate replaced Draxler just after his goal and pushed Lo Celso forward for the final 12 minutes.
RW Lucas Moura, NR -- In what might have been his last appearance in PSG colours, the Brazilian replaced Verratti for the final nine minutes and was energetic but nothing more.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.