PSG hosted and defeated Angers 2-0 on Wednesday, Jan. 11 for the return of Ligue 1 to the Parc des Princes in 2023. It was an easy game for the Parisian and a match to celebrate the return of Lionel Messi, now not just the legitimate GOAT but a World Cup winner on top of everything.
Here are the grades from our Parisian men after they defeated the worst team in the French top-flight division on a day in which coach Christophe Galtier brought back the five-at-the-back formation, impacting the performances of many of the PSG players.
5 - Donnarumma: Gets a default grade because he had a pleasing evening watching PSG win a game without breaking a sweat. Blocked no shots and completed a bunch of passes, but surely didn't earn his hefty salary on his own merit yesterday.
6 - Danilo: I haven't seen many plaudits going his way but he deserved them and then some. He had to play on the left side of the center-back line instead of his natural holding-midfielder position. Did more than well, was the best man of the three CBs, and proved once more he's the best defender in Paris when fit (until Kimpembe is back, that is).
5 - Sergio Ramos: Had a header miraculously blocked by the Angers goalie (good) but missed a pass while trying to build from the back that could have meant trouble for PSG (bad). That's the grade explainer for you. No wonder why Paris don't want to extend his deal further down the line for now...
Turns out Nordi Mukiele is a magician and Hugo Ekitike is a young goalscoring machine
5 - Marquinhos: Saved PSG from that aforementioned mistake by Sergio Ramos. Other than that, he moved the ball laterally but didn't do much more than that. Good for him to catch a break after all he's gone through of late.
8 - Mukiele: Extend Nordi's contract for 10 more seasons. Buy him a house next to the Parc. Build him a statue outside the stadium. Paint his face on the biggest canvas out there and hang it in the Louvre. Mukiele with the assist brace, another otherworldly performance, and bringing a very serious conundrum to Galtier's plate when it comes to deciding whether to use him or an underperforming (at PSG) Hakimi going forward.
4 - Juan Bernat: Not even sure if he played, because the change of formation left him absolutely isolated on the wing while hugging the touchline waiting for balls that never arrived. When he showed up he screwed an offensive chance by being too humble and kind trying to find Messi instead of firing a shot himself.
3 - Fabian Ruiz: Whatever Galtier told him to do must have gotten lost in translation. Ruiz never found his footing, was entirely lost on the pitch, completed a putrid game, and even though he completed nearly all of his attempted passes (62/64) I don't even know if a single one of them advanced the ball forward.
(Sub) NR - Zaire-Emery: Entered the pitch with the clock reading 79. Should have been the other way around, even more considering Ruiz getting deployed on the AMF strata. Better days ahead.
6 - Vitinha: Did what he could in a vastly open midfield in which a lack of Parisian bodies was glaring. Play Danilo in the pivot, and solve the issue. Play him at the back line, and you have Vitinha running up and down and getting hella tired because it is what happens when you have to cover miles and miles of ground. He was fantastic and moved the team. Don't listen to the haters.
(Sub) 2 - Bitshiabu: Had five minutes of playing time and he nearly committed a penalty (nobody would have been surprised had the ref blown the whistle). Sheesh.
4 - Neymar: Could have scored the most ridiculous goal in the history of Ligue 1, but hey, we live in a world in which there is this little thing called VAR, if you know what I'm saying. He slapped an opponent in the face for the second game in a row (seriously) earning another yellow card. Seems to be still a bit off his peak form with just one month to go before facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Better start warming up, Ney.
8 - Messi: Glorious return. As active as you can expect from him (he still walked 99% of the time, which is not surprising anymore) these days, Messi was his usual self bringing constant danger to Angers' area, creating the first goal with a hockey assist to Nordi Mukiele, and scoring the second of the game. French folks might reasonably hate him after December's developments, but Messi keeps on giving back. Sweetheart.
7 - Ekitike: Gotta eat some crow myself here. Ekitike has been absolutely staggering after returning from the break by scoring goals in bunches. He might still lack a full 90-minute presence but he's getting there and he's just a ripe 20 years of age. Let's give him some breathing room.
(Sub) 3 - Soler: At least it wasn't Pablo Sarabia coming off the bench. Other than that he will be remembered because his name will actually show up in the match reports when looking back at them years from now because objectively and statistically, he did nothing other than getting some healthy cardio.