Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc said his team’s display in beating SL Benfica 3-0 in Champions League Group C on Wednesday was their best since he took charge of the club this summer.
The French champions, who reached the last eight in last season’s competition before losing on away goals to Barcelona, are hoping to go at least as far this time and their opening results prove they mean business.
They are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions since the campaign began and followed up a 4-1 win away to Olympiakos Piraeus two weeks ago by blowing the Portuguese giants away in the opening half-hour at the Parc des Princes.
A Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace either side of a second goal in this season’s competition for young Brazilian defender Marquinhos ended the game and PSG were happy to see out the remaining 60 minutes.
“The most interesting thing tonight is that from the first minute to the last Paris completely controlled the game. We don’t always play like that,” Blanc said.
Blanc had words of praise for Marco Verratti, with the 20-year-old Italian producing a midfield masterclass alongside Thiago Motta that included a marvelous pass in the build-up to the second goal.
“Marco was the image of the team,” Blanc said. “He is exceptional with the ball at his feet. All other players in his position are more imposing physically, but when he and Thiago Motta play as they did tonight you get performances like that.”
The negative aspects of the evening for Blanc were the poor performance of club record buy Edinson Cavani, who struggled to make an impact, and also the attitude of Jeremy Menez.
The temperamental French international stormed down the tunnel before the full-time whistle when it became clear that he would not be sent on from the bench.
“There is no problem with Menez. He was disappointed at not coming on, but I didn’t see it, I was focusing on the game,” Blanc said.
The Frenchman preferred to focus on the nature of the performance, which comes just four days before a trip to bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille in Ligue 1.
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus admitted in an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe published on the day of the game that the only difference between his club and Europe’s other leading names was money and his point was proven on the PSG pitch.
Benfica are three points behind leaders PSG in Group C, with Olympiakos in second on goal-difference after a hat-trick by Kostas Mitroglou took the Greek side to a 3-0 victory over last-placed Anderlecht in the group’s other game on Wednesday.
Mitroglou’s precision and a fine performance from goalkeeper Roberto gave Olympiakos their first points, as Anderlecht were left to rue their misfiring front line.