There is no way to talk about Paris Saint-Germain without talking about excess. It is a club of excessive riches, and excessive glamor. It is therefore governed by excessive expectations.
But the excess on display Sunday night in Monaco is the reason PSG is meeting those expectations. And it’s the excess that matters. It’s the one that has PSG cruising through Ligue 1. It’s emblematic of an excessively ambitious plan that, three months into its current stage, is undoubtedly working.
It’s a footballing excess. Never mind all the early season drama and the exorbitant transfer fees. It’s a blend of style and substance. It’s equal parts entertaining and punishing. It’s been responsible for a historic 24 goals in just five Champions League games. And it made the reigning Ligue 1 champs look embarrassingly inferior on Sunday.
PSG only beat Monaco 2-1. “Only,” because it could have and should have been more. A lot more. That’s how dominant the Parisians were.
The real emblems of PSG’s brilliance weren’t the goals. They were Neymar wriggling out of a double-team in his own half, gliding by a third Monaco player, and picking out Kylian Mbappe’s run with a picture-perfect 40-yard through-ball. They were Mbappe rounding Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic, but firing wide. They were Mbappe later latching onto a Dani Alves pass and crossing for Edinson Cavani; Cavani’s back-flick finding Julian Draxler at the far post; Draxler stretching, barely unable to finish.
The list goes on. PSG toyed with an opponent in a game that should’ve been its toughest league fixture of the season. Neymar struck the post, as did a deflected Cavani cross. Cavani wasted a free header from six yards out. Mbappe, twice in on goal in the second half, twice tried to chip Subasic. The quality and quantity of chances were downright silly. They were excessive. They highlighted PSG’s class almost as well as goals would have.
Oh, and the goal that gave PSG a first-half lead was pretty darn impressive, too:
It didn’t even require involvement from Neymar or Mbappe. It involved two parts of a three-pronged midfield, Julian Draxler and Adrien Rabiot. Draxler played on the left side of the midfield three, and interchanged seamlessly with Neymar when the Brazilian winger drifted inside.
Marco Verratti, the third of the three midfielders, helped set up the second. His lofted ball led to PSG’s second – a penalty won and converted by Neymar:
For 20 minutes thereafter, PSG danced around Monaco. The front three ran in behind at will. There was not a single PSG player who underwhelmed, and not a single Monaco player who could keep up. By the 80th minute, the score could have been 3-0, 4-0, even five or six.
Even though it wasn’t, Neymar was performing ballet:
It’s not as if Monaco wasn’t trying, either. The defending Ligue 1 champs tried both legal and extralegal tactics. They nibbled at Neymar’s ankles, at one point momentarily knocking him out of the match. They played a back five designed to snuff out the very chances they ended up allowing.
PSG was simply irrepressible. It had over 75 percent possession in the first half, and for the most part it was purposeful possession. As Monaco’s defensive line crept higher and higher, the more and more it was exposed.
Monaco threatened to make PSG pay for its carelessness in front of goal when Joao Moutinho’s deflected free kick made the score 2-1. The final 10 minutes were slightly nerve-wracking for the visitors.
But the three points, and a nine-point lead atop the table, were never really in doubt. The identity of the eventual 2017-18 Ligue 1 champions isn’t really in doubt either.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.