Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier admitted that Kylian Mbappé was like an “orphan” without the missing Neymar Jr and Lionel Messi in the starting line-up in Saturday’s goalless draw at Stade de Reims.
Galtier opted to leave Neymar on the bench at kick-off at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, while Messi did not even make the trip to Champagne country for a fixture that fell in between a UEFA Champions League double-header against Benfica. The absence of those two was felt as PSG dropped points for just the second time in Ligue 1 this season, even if Neymar missed a great chance after coming on in the second half.
“When Messi or ‘Ney’ don’t start obviously that changes the way we play and can lead to us maybe losing balls that lead to a few jitters and hand confidence to the opposition,” said Galtier, who gave a first start to summer signing Carlos Soler.
“Kylian Mbappé was a bit like an orphan without Leo and Ney, as I suspected. I thought that might change as the game went on. Ney didn’t start the match because he has played a lot recently. Obviously when he came on we saw how good a relationship they have and that is why our second-half performance was better despite us being down to 10 men.”
PSG played more than half the match a man short after Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 41st minute. The Spaniard was booked for a foul on Dion Lopy and then shown a red card for dissent moments later.
“The red card penalised us but that was not the cause of our poor first half,” said Galtier. “We needed more variety in our game. I thought we were better with 10 men. We had more movement and more fluidity.”
Reims were well worth the point despite being without coach Óscar García, absent for family reasons. It was also a first clean sheet of the season for a side who began the day in the relegation zone.
“Every point you get against Paris merits respect. Yes they were down to 10 men in the whole second half but they are a side with so much individual quality,” said Reims assistant coach Will Still.