Neymar nets four goals for PSG but quarrels with Edinson Cavani
PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain remain 11 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after annihilating Dijon 8-0 at Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
Neymar starred with four goals and two assists as the French capital outfit racked up their heaviest ever home win across all competitions.
The Brazilian superstar was joined by Angel Di Maria (two), Edinson Cavani (an all-time joint-record 156th goal) and Kylian Mbappe on the score sheet.
First of all, Neymar's performance obviously deserves special recognition. Four goals, some very special, and two assists, what more can you ask for? Les Parisiens No. 10 looks primed for a very important couple of weeks ahead.
Secondly, the insatiable appetite for goals shown against a traumatised Dijon side when they could have just called it quits 4-0 up at half-time was impressive. If Unai Emery's men can save some of that hunger for Real Madrid in the Champions League, then they will be very difficult to stop.
Third and finally, Di Maria's early 2018 form continues to make him something of a new signing for PSG. Two goals and an assist from a 60-minute outing was very good going.
It would be foolish to take minor imperfections from an 8-0 home win -- such as Thomas Meunier's poor performance and Julian Draxler's mute showing -- and turn them into major criticisms but Neymar's cold attitude towards teammate Cavani with the late penalty warrants comment.
Rightly or wrongly, the Brazilian appears to have usurped the Uruguay international as PSG's main penalty taker and that seems to have been accepted too -- possibly something to do with Cavani's late return to Paris after the winter break.
However, 7-0 up at home, with a hat trick and two assists to his name already and knowing that Cavani was one goal away from being crowned the club's all-time top scorer, letting El Matador score from the spot would have earned him almost as many -- if not more -- plaudits than he was going to receive anyway after his sensational showing.
Neymar took the penalty instead, and although he scored, he has kept alive a controversy that had seemingly died off a long time ago, missed an opportunity to emphasise the togetherness of this PSG squad and end the Cavani rift stories for good.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Emery sent out a strong starting XI but rotated in places and got a superb performance in return. The Spaniard's decision to persevere with Giovani Lo Celso in deep-lying midfield was particularly inspired.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alphonse Areola, 6 -- The French shot-stopper was not called into action too often but when he was, he was assured between the sticks.
DF Thomas Meunier, 4 -- The Belgium international was disappointing. Whether he was a bit rusty -- unlikely, considering that he played against Amiens recently -- it was an uncharacteristically off-colour display.
DF Thiago Silva, 6 -- The captain was solid at the heart of the defence, even if he and Presnel Kimpembe did not have much to do, and marshalled his back line well.
DF Presnel Kimpembe, 7 -- The youth academy graduate outshone Silva with a level-headed performance and a few welcome demonstrations of his underrated technical ability.
DF Yuri Berchiche, 6 -- The Spaniard continues to put Layvin Kurzawa under the cosh as they tussle for the starting role in Emery's XI and the Basque's assist for Neymar's third goal will have helped.
MF Giovani Lo Celso, 8 -- The Argentina international was very impressive and looks more and more at home in the deep-lying midfield role with every passing match. His assist for Di Maria's beautiful opener was mouth-watering and he played a significant role in his compatriot's second of the night, too.
MF Marco Verratti, 6 -- The Italian regulated proceedings from midfield but was never required to excel as PSG easily dominated Dijon's midfield and Lo Celso took the lead from Verratti and Julian Draxler early on.
MF Julian Draxler, 5 -- The Germany international was very quiet and although he was not exactly poor when he was on the ball, he did not see that much of it or do anything really constructive with it.
FW Angel Di Maria, 8 -- The Argentine has looked reinvigorated since the start of 2018 and added two more goals and an assist to his growing haul. If El Fideo keeps this form up, he could be very important across both legs against Real.
FW Edinson Cavani, 7 -- The Uruguay international pulled level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's all-time top scorer with 156 goals and even if it has taken the South American longer to get there than the iconic Swede, it is still an impressive feat. El Matador can rightly feel harshly treated by Neymar, who did not need to insist on taking the late penalty that could have been Cavani's 157th strike for the capital club -- it was also earned by the No. 9.
FW Neymar, 10 -- Unstoppable. In terms of his play, the Brazil international was pretty much flawless and impossible for Dijon to handle. The man from Mogi das Cruzes hit four goals and added two assists in his first PSG hat trick. However, the 25-year-old lacked maturity with the late penalty because he had the chance to make a gesture that would have strengthened the team's position and instead chose individual glory.
MF Christopher Nkunku, 6 -- The youth academy graduate was energetic after he replaced Verratti on the hour mark and almost beat a beleaguered Baptiste Reynet with a late headed effort.
FW Kylian Mbappe, 7 -- The France international came on for Di Maria with 22 minutes to go and grabbed himself a late goal off the bench. The rest will have done him good ahead of Lyon away on Sunday.
MF Adrien Rabiot, NR -- The Frenchman was introduced after 77 minutes in place of Lo Celso and kept PSG pushing for more goals in the final 10 minutes from his position in the midfield.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.