PARIS (Reuters) - Paris St Germain started the year with a bang in the League Cup and the form of their fabulous four suggests they will again run unopposed to the Ligue 1 title.
After first suggesting he could not field Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi at the same time, coach Thomas Tuchel has been using them together with devastating effect.
Mbappe and Icardi were the brightest duo with four goals and three assists between them as PSG demolished 10-man St Etienne 6-1 in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday, sending a warning to Monaco, whom they will host at the Parc des Princes on Sunday as Ligue 1 action resumes after a three-week break.
PSG have 45 points from 18 games and lead second-placed Olympique de Marseille, who have played one more match, by seven points.
Monaco, the 2017 champions when Mbappe was still in their ranks, are seventh on 28 points as new coach Robert Moreno looks to make an early impact to secure Champions League action next season.
If they are to stand a chance against PSG, the principality side will need to stabilize their defence, having conceded 26 goals in 18 games this season, for they will face one of Europe’s most intimidating firepowers.
Between them, Icardi, Mbappe and Neymar have scored 28 goals in Ligue 1 this season from a combined 33 games while Di Maria added six goals and eight assists.
But most importantly, they have started to chip in with some defensive work to relieve the impressive duo of holding midfielders Marco Verratti and Idrissa Gueye.
“There was a realisation. We might not be the best defenders in the world but we’ve improved and it shows on the pitch,” said Mbappe.
“Behind us they have to run less because we’ve been doing our job. You can see Neymar tackling.”
Tuchel added that in addition to the fab four doing some defensive work, the players behind were also going forward.
“I’m convinced that the four players in front love to play together. But maybe we talk too much about them. They are 11 players on the pitch and they all bring something offensively,” the German said.
While PSG are on track to match their French record of 96 points in a season, they know they will be judged on their Champions League performance after some spectacular failures in recent years.
Olympique Lyonnais, who need to recruit during the transfer window to make up for the loss of injured Memphis Depay, will look to salvage a mediocre season.
They currently lie 12th on 26 points ahead of their trip to Girondins de Bordeaux on Saturday.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar