Neymar Marco Verratti spark PSG in Real Madrid tuneup against Toulouse
Paris Saint-Germain opened up a 13-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 with a narrow 1-0 win away at Toulouse on Saturday.
Neymar scored the only goal of the game at Municipal Stadium as the French capital outfit warmed up for Real Madrid away in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie next Wednesday.
Overall, the result was the most important thing. After Marseille were held by Saint-Etienne, three points and an added two-point lead at the top of Le Championnat was too good an opportunity to miss for Unai Emery’s men — they took it.
Although it was not the best match and Neymar was not at his absolute best, he was still immersed enough to put his teammates on his back and carry them to victory in the second half.
Alphonse Areola also kept another clean sheet, maintaining his status as one of Europe’s hardest goalkeepers to beat this season.
Although the display was not as intense as it could have been and PSG were far from at their best, there are a few days to go until Real away and Les Parisiens won yet another tricky match away from home — all that mattered was the result.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Emery’s starting XI and the introduction of Marco Verratti was enough to secure all three points.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Alphonse Areola, 6 — The youth academy graduate was solid when called upon and made one particularly good save to keep Toulouse out.
DF Dani Alves, 4 — The Brazil international perhaps felt a bit rusty after his recent suspension but his performance here was hardly encouraging ahead of Real.
DF Marquinhos (c), 6 — The Brazilian was calm, collected and authoritative in his role as captain with Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta unused.
DF Presnel Kimpembe, 6 — The Frenchman paired well with Marquinhos and together, they ensured that Areola was given minimal work.
DF Yuri Berchiche, 6 — The Spaniard was consistent and has given Emery plenty to consider in Madrid next week after Layvin Kurzawa picked up a knock.
MF Lassana Diarra, 5 — The new signing got 60 more minutes under his belt as he continues to get back to full fitness, but he was booked before Verratti replaced him.
MF Giovani Lo Celso, 6 — The Argentine put in another solid showing, albeit in a more natural central midfield role, and is a genuine candidate to start against Real.
MF Adrien Rabiot, 6 — The France international was shown a yellow card on his return to action after his recent injury layoff and enjoyed 70 minutes of action.
FW Angel Di Maria, 6 — The Argentine should have done better with a second-half chance to score but will ultimately be satisfied with his 70-minute outing ahead of next week.
FW Kylian Mbappe, 5 — The Frenchman continues to look short of his best and took a heavy knock, which could hamper his performances further.
FW Neymar, 7 — Was not at his best but squeezed in the winning goal — even if it might ultimately go down as an own goal — and was the only PSG player who truly looked like scoring, with a couple of other efforts hitting the woodwork.
MF Marco Verratti, 6 — The Italian got some rest and came on for the last 30 minutes, which should set him up nicely for Real.
MF Javier Pastore, NR — The Argentina international gave PSG a late creative boost but Neymar had already done the damage before El Flaco came on in place of Rabiot.
FW Julian Draxler, NR — The German was restored to his usual wide attacking role for the final 20 minutes when he replaced Di Maria but he was unable to find Les Parisiens a second goal.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.