Ronaldinho told Paris Saint-Germain fans they should be careful what they wish for as he mounted a defence of the club's under-fire superstars.

Neymar and Lionel Messi have faced a backlash from supporters in recent months, with Kylian Mbappe the only member of the much-vaunted forward trio seemingly immune to their criticism.

It helps that Mbappe has enjoyed another spectacular season for PSG, scoring 35 goals and adding 19 assists, while Neymar and Messi have struggled to live up to their lofty reputations.

Many supporters have been unimpressed by the team's performances this season, despite a costly recruitment drive that brought a raft of big names to the Parc des Princes.

Messi, an all-time great, arrived from Barcelona, while the likes of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum also joined, along with Inter's flying full-back Achraf Hakimi.

Despite PSG assembling a star-studded squad, there has been such a backlash against the side's performances that last month's Ligue 1 title success was barely celebrated by supporters.

Squandering a 2-0 aggregate lead to lose to Real Madrid in the Champions League's last-16 was a shattering blow, and many supporters want change to come not only on the pitch, but in the boardroom, with President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Sporting Director Leonardo facing heavy criticism.

Ronaldinho, however, does not understand those questioning the side, telling RMC Sports: "I don't understand because there are all these great players.

"And you want to change everything? What do you want to have? The worst players in the world?

"We have to wait for them to understand this new way of living and playing football. And the rest will come slowly. This adaptation is normal, to do things well."

Neymar signed a big-money contract extension last May so appears unlikely to leave any time soon, but patience is in short supply among some fans when it comes to the Brazilian.

His compatriot Ronaldinho, who spent two years at PSG before joining Barcelona in 2003, defended the winger by declaring: "He's one of the best players in the world.

"He has had several injuries this year. When he's at 100 per cent he's a really special player for this team. Neymar, [Angel] Di Maria, Messi... the greatest players are together. If you're not happy with that, who are you going to play with?"

Mbappe, meanwhile, will reach the end of his contract next month with Madrid remaining eager to take him to the Santiago Bernabeu, although reports have suggested he could yet decide to remain in the French capital.

Ronaldinho refused to offer an opinion as to where the 2018 World Cup winner should play next term, saying the most important thing is Mbappe's happiness and predicting he will become the world's best player.

"I have no advice. I love him so much," he added. "The most important thing is that he is happy, the rest will come normally. He will become the best player in the world. The rest is up to him to decide where he will play and what he wants to do."

Palmeiras midfielder Danilo has been granted his first call-up to the Brazil squad, while Tite selected Fabinho for the upcoming friendlies in June despite injury concerns over the Liverpool star.

Brazil announced a 27-man squad on Wednesday for friendlies against Korea Republic, Japan and South American rivals Argentina next month.

Fabinho is one of 13 Premier League players called up, despite the midfielder limping off in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday after suffering a muscle injury.

Reports suggest Fabinho will miss the upcoming FA Cup final against Chelsea, along with league games against Wolves and Southampton, as he faces a race against the clock to feature in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28 as Liverpool hunt an unprecedented quadruple.

Fellow midfielder Danilo was the other notable inclusion by Tite, with the Palmeiras man earning his maiden call-up after impressing at the Club World Cup, where his side were defeated in the final by Chelsea.

On Danilo's inclusion, Tite told reporters: "Danilo is one of those players that we have been following, we are always attentive to players that are emerging. 

"Danilo played well at the Club World Cup in games that we followed live and made visits to the club. We were looking at a series of things on how he performs so we could justify his selection."

Fabinho's Liverpool team-mate Alisson also made the list, along with fellow goalkeeper Ederson, while Manchester United duo Alex Telles and Fred were named alongside Arsenal's Gabriel Magalhaes.

Newcastle United's Bruno Guimaraes was again selected by Tite and will look to add to his six caps, but there was no room for Magpies team-mate Joelinton, who has impressed since dropping into midfield under Eddie Howe.

Casemiro could partner Guimaraes in the middle alongside Lyon's Lucas Paqueta, while Weverton and Guilherme Arana were the only other two players to feature from Brazil's domestic league.

Tite will have vast experience in the backline to call upon as well, with the likes of Alex Sandro, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos to select from.

Up top, Gabriel Jesus will look to carry over his scoring form from his exploits with Manchester City, with Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Real Madrid's Champions League hero Rodrygo part of a star-studded attacking line-up.

The upcoming friendlies are part of Brazil's penultimate preparations for the 2022 World Cup, where Tite's side are placed in Group G alongside Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Manchester United), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Danilo (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico-MG), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain) and Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Danilo (Palmeiras), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon) and Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphinha (Leeds), Richarlison (Everton), Rodrygo (Real Madrid) and Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Mauricio Pochettino was left to lament costly defensive errors after Paris Saint-Germain squandered a 2-0 lead in their frustrating 2-2 Ligue 1 draw with Troyes on Sunday.

Ligue 1 champions PSG found themselves 2-0 up inside 25 minutes at the Parc des Princes after Marquinhos and Neymar found the net, but Nuno Mendes' dire pass allowed Ike Ugbo to halve the arrears before Florian Tardieu scored a second-half penalty to ensure the points were shared.

The disappointing draw marked the first time PSG had led by two goals in a home Ligue 1 match and failed to win since February 2015 in a 2-2 draw against Caen, after Presnel Kimpembe's clumsy foul allowed Tardieu to beat Keylor Navas with an audacious Panenka. 

The Parisian giants were again booed by their own supporters at the full-time whistle, and have now thrown away a two-goal lead in consecutive games after being pegged back from 3-1 down in a 3-3 draw at Strasbourg last time out.

However, Pochettino, who is facing mounting pressure in the French capital despite PSG's title win, claimed his side were unfortunate not to win and should have been awarded a penalty when Achraf Hakimi appeared to be pushed shortly after the break.

"We started the match well, then we made two errors which cost us two goals," he said after the entertaining draw. "I think we still created more than Troyes.

"We deserved a little more luck tonight. We may have missed this tension of the competition. The objective was to win the championship, it's done. Now you have to respect the competition, and I think we did.

"I think [the lack of a penalty] was not justified. There was a penalty on Hakimi on the other side of the field. Our opponents must surely think the opposite, but that's my opinion."

PSG are now on a three-match winless streak in Ligue 1 – each of those finishing in draws – which is their longest such sequence since April 2019 (also three).

They have also failed to win back-to-back home games for the first time since suffering three consecutive home defeats between February and April last year.

Pochettino's team had numerous chances to win the game, with Lionel Messi hitting the post and the crossbar and Neymar having two goals ruled out by VAR.

Messi has now hit the woodwork 10 times in Ligue 1 this season. Since Opta began collecting such data (2006-07), no player has done so more often in a top-flight season (Bakary Sako also did so 10 times for Saint-Etienne in 2011-12), leading the forward's boss to rue his "incredible" misfortune.

"It's an incredible lack of luck," he said. "We could have won the match on his last action [when he hit the bar in the last minute]. For a player of his quality, this is the only explanation."

With PSG having wrapped up their 10th Ligue title last month, Pochettino has faced criticism from some quarters for not giving more game time to the club's young players.

But the Argentine insisted PSG's academy prospects must earn their right to play, and noted the fierce competition in his star-studded squad.

"It is important to clarify that we built a squad of more than thirty players at the start of the season. We had departures in January, but it is a team where there is not much room for young people," he added.

"They have to earn their playing time. Several have been training with us since day one. It's a first step. What is important is the composition of the squad going forward and that there is room for them to gain minutes. Little by little, young people will find their place."

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain threw away a two-goal lead for a second successive league game as Troyes battled back to earn a 2-2 draw at the Parc des Princes.

The hosts looked to be in control when Marquinhos and Neymar gave them a comfortable first-half lead, but a series of defensive errors allowed the visitors to fight back in an entertaining affair.

Having surrendered a 3-1 advantage in last week's 3-3 draw with Strasbourg, PSG were on the wrong end of another turnaround when Ike Ugbo and Florian Tardieu scored either side of the break.

Neymar also had two goals disallowed as PSG laboured to another underwhelming result, as the pressure on head coach Mauricio Pochettino continues to mount.

The hosts looked on course for a routine win when Marquinhos turned in Angel Di Maria's excellent cross to open the scoring after five minutes, with Neymar doubling the lead from the spot 20 minutes later after Erik Palmer-Brown clumsily felled Kylian Mbappe.

But Troyes were soon gifted a route back into the game when Ugbo intercepted Nuno Mendes' terrible pass to fire into the bottom-left corner after half an hour.

PSG went close to re-establishing their two-goal advantage when Lionel Messi side-footed against the post, only for Neymar to be ruled offside when smashing home the rebound.

The visitors punished another PSG error when Presnel Kimpembe hauled down Renaud Ripart after the interval, allowing Tardieu to execute an audacious panenka to level the scores, before Neymar saw another goal chalked off after Mbappe's foul in the build-up.

Marquinhos sent a firm header wide and Messi crashed a long-range shot against the bar as the hosts chased a late winner, only for the disciplined visitors to claim a point at a frustrated Parc des Princes.

What does it mean? PSG drop rare home points

While PSG remain unbeaten in 21 Ligue 1 home games (18 wins, three draws), they have now gone two home matches without a win for the first time since doing so between February and April 2021 (three consecutive defeats).

The result will do little to disquiet the discontent around Pochettino's team, with the Argentine under severe pressure despite wrapping up PSG's 10th Ligue 1 title last month.

Neymar continues fine form

Despite PSG flattering to deceive in the second half of the season, Neymar's strong individual performances have proven crucial to their title win.

After converting his first-half penalty, the Brazilian has contributed to goals in each of his last six league games (seven goals and three assists in total).

Tardieu on the spot

In a contest which revolved around two spot-kicks, Tardieu kept his nerve to beat Keylor Navas with a sumptuous lob as the visitors earned a creditable draw.

The 30-year-old has scored four Ligue 1 goals this season, each of them from the spot.

What's next?

PSG travel to Montpellier for the penultimate outing of the Ligue 1 season next Saturday, while Troyes host Lens on the same day.

Anthony Caci scored a last-gasp equaliser as Strasbourg came from behind to hold Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-3 draw at Stade de la Meinau. 

Former PSG striker Kevin Gameiro gave Champions League-chasing Strasbourg a second-minute lead, but Kylian Mbappe put the visitors in control with a double and an assist for Achraf Hakimi. 

Strasbourg refused to give up and Marco Verratti's own goal with 15 minutes remaining gave them hope of salvaging a point to boost their top-four aspirations. 

They got it when Caci volleyed home a deep cross from Dimitri Lienard in the 92nd minute, keeping the pressure on PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino despite clinching the title last weekend. 

Mauricio Pochettino claims he and Kylian Mbappe will "100 per cent" be at Paris Saint-Germain next season.

The head coach added a caveat, however, by adding: "This is football, and we never know what might happen."

The PSG boss and star striker Mbappe have both been rumoured to be on their way out of the French capital at the end of the campaign, with Mbappe consistently linked to a move to Real Madrid with his contract about to expire.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of PSG's first game against Strasbourg, their first since winning the Ligue 1 title, Pochettino appeared to indicate both his and the France international's futures remain at the club.

Mbappe has been PSG's leading man this season, with 33 goals and 18 assists in 42 games in all competitions.

When asked what percentage he would give that himself and Mbappe would still be at PSG next year, Pochettino said: "One hundred per cent, in both cases."

In answer to a follow-up question about whether he had held talks with the club's hierarchy, the Argentine coach clarified: "There haven't been any concrete talks, beyond what is normal in terms of our plans with what we have been doing so far.

"We have a natural relationship, we communicate regarding different topics. Of course, they change depending on the circumstances at the time, but the relationship and communication are good.

"We keep working hard, not just bearing in mind the present, but also with the responsibility to think about the future, so that is what we are doing."

 

When asked to further explain his surety about Mbappe, Pochettino said: "That is how I feel today. That is what I can say to you today. I can't say anything else. That is how I feel right now.

"This is football, and we never know what might happen."

Despite clinching the title last week, recent games have seen other star players, notably Neymar and Lionel Messi, booed by the PSG fans, with neither really capturing their best form this season.

Brazilian Neymar has played just 25 games in all competitions having suffered with injury, scoring 11 goals and assisting seven more, while Messi has managed nine goals and 13 assists in 30 appearances in his first season since his sensational move from Barcelona.

Pochettino explained why it has been a tough season for Neymar, and detailed a conversation he had with Messi about fine margins dictating opinion.

"Neymar's talent is indisputable," Pochettino said. "He arrived here in a big transfer, because he is one of the best players in the world. This season he had a big injury, and it was a season preceded by the Copa America. It was therefore difficult to have the necessary regularity. He had ups and downs, like the whole team.

"I spoke about this with Lionel Messi. There was a period of progression, then there was the [Champions League] elimination against Real Madrid. The season would have been very different if we had gone through. The line between failure and success is sometimes very small.

"It can also give strength to write a different story in the future."

Riyad Mahrez could reportedly be sold by Manchester City in the upcoming transfer window, and some of the world's biggest clubs are said to be targeting the Algerian.

Mahrez, 31, has won the Premier League on three occasions, including once with Leicester City, and will make it four this season if Pep Guardiola's team can hold on.

After 38 Premier League goals for Mahrez over four campaigns with City, he could be facing a new challenge next season.


TOP STORY – MAHREZ MOVE TO MAKE WAY FOR HAALAND

Fichajes.net is reporting that Mahrez is one of the players City could part ways with to help fund the purchase of Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

The report names Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as the three most likely landing spots.

Mahrez has scored 23 goals and dished out eight assists in 42 appearances across all club competitions this season.


ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are said to be closing in on a deal to sign Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer. The Guardian is reporting his contract will be worth at least £200,000 per week.

– The Telegraph is reporting Manchester City are interested in making a move for West Ham's Declan Rice.

– According to Marca, Real Madrid remain favourites to land Kylian Mbappe when he is expected to leave Paris Saint-Germain in the next transfer window, but he will not make an official announcement until after the last game of his Ligue 1 season on May 21.

– Sky Sports News is reporting that Lionel Messi will remain at Paris Saint-Germain for at least one more season but that the French giants could consider letting Neymar move on.

– Barcelona would be willing to sell Frenkie de Jong for £58million, with Manchester United reportedly interested in bringing in the Dutch midfielder, according to El Chiringuito.

Neymar has told the Paris Saint-Germain supporters booing him that they "will need more air" if they continue as he intends to stay at the club for the next three years.

The Brazil international and his team-mates have been targeted by their own fans since crashing out of the Champions League to Real Madrid at the last-16 stage on March 9.

That continued during Saturday's 1-1 draw with Lens, despite that result confirming a 10th Ligue 1 title for PSG – only Saint-Etienne have won the competition as many times.

While frustrated by the continued jeering, Neymar – under contract until July 2025 – confirmed he is not looking to leave the Parc des Princes at the end of the campaign.

"I still have a contract with Paris Saint-Germain," he told ESPN Argentina. "I'm here for three more years, so stop [booing] or you'll need more air."

Neymar has 11 goals and seven assists for PSG across 25 appearances in all competitions this season, averaging 0.78 goal involvements every 90 minutes.

That puts him behind only Kylian Mbappe (1.3) and Lionel Messi (0.79) among PSG's regulars this campaign.

 

Marco Verratti is another who has played an important role in the Parisians' eighth Ligue 1 triumph in 10 seasons, the midfielder having been part of the squad for each of those.

The Italy international has now won the French top flight more times than any other player.

Speaking after the title-clinching result, however, Verratti admitted he was surprised by the reaction of PSG's supporters inside the Parc des Princes.

"Not celebrating is something I don't understand," he told Canal+.

"It's football; sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We are normal people, we can have failures. But the 10th title is important." 

Lionel Messi will be absent when Paris Saint-Germain attempt to wrap up the Ligue 1 title during Wednesday's trip to Angers, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.

Messi, who has recorded eight goals and 13 assists in 29 games since moving to the French capital last summer, is receiving treatment for inflammation in his left achilles tendon, and will sit out PSG's potentially decisive match.

Pochettino's men will seal the 10th Ligue 1 title in the club's history by bettering Marseille's result against Nantes, equalling St Etienne as the competition's most successful club.

However, having already lost Neymar to suspension, Pochettino confirmed Messi is among several players who will miss the match, potentially handing an opportunity to some of PSG's younger players.

"Some players like Leo Messi, Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe will be missing tomorrow because they are still undergoing treatment," Pochettino said. "Neymar will be suspended. 

"It will be an opportunity for the players who don't play much to get some game time and it will allow the youngsters to gain experience.

"Players such as Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut, they have been gaining experience. They are the ones who could really play a key role in the club's future."

PSG beat Marseille 2-1 last time out to inch closer to regaining the French crown, and are seeking to confirm top spot by recording a 12th consecutive league win over Angers.

 

Despite boasting a 15-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit with just six games remaining, Pochettino refuted suggestions that PSG's dominance of the competition would mean they struggled to motivate themselves on Wednesday, saying their aim was to seal the title "as soon as possible".

"This match will be important because it could allow us to win a 10th title if we win," he added. "The goal is to continue the momentum from our last few games. We've had a string of successes and we want to continue that momentum.

"For the moment, the title is not secured yet, we are focused on the trip to Angers and on winning. The sooner the better. Personally, it would be an immense joy to win this 10th French championship title for Paris Saint-Germain. 

"Motivation is always there because it is necessary to win. We have to respect football and our opponents until the last day because that is the best way to perform well. We hope to win the title as soon as possible!"

Despite the attacking trio of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Messi scoring each of PSG's last 13 league goals, the latter two have been jeered by their own supporters in recent weeks after the team fell to a humiliating Champions League last-16 collapse against Real Madrid.

While Pochettino respected the right of PSG's fans to have an opinion on the state of the team, he emphasised his hope that supporters would come together to celebrate their title when it is confirmed.

"Everyone has the right to have their say," Pochettino added. "[But] I hope that we can celebrate a 10th title in the club's history together, it's important. For the future, I hope there will be a good relationship, it is crucial for any club that aspires to win all the trophies."

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino and centre back Marquinhos have criticised the home fans at Parc des Princes for their lack of support in Sunday's 2-1 Classique victory against Marseille.

All three goals came in an action-packed first half, with Neymar breaking the deadlock in the 12th minute, before Duje Caleta-Car equalised when he forced home a corner from Dimitri Payet nearly 20 minutes later.

On the stroke of half-time, PSG were awarded a questionable penalty after a hopeful Neymar ball was deflected into the elbow of a Marseille defender, with VAR awarding Kylian Mbappe the penalty to head into the sheds leading 2-1.

The second half was largely controlled by Marseille, with over 60 per cent possession, and they thought they had equalised in the 85th minute when William Saliba got on the end of a Payet free kick, but VAR ruled it out for offside.

With the win, PSG are now 15 points clear of second-placed Marseille with six games remaining, but Pochettino said the support from the crowd did not feel like they were a team cruising to a league title.

"We are still waiting for the supporters to be able to expend the energy to support us," he said.

"They show their disappointment – and as I always say, there is freedom of expression, it is their way of expressing themselves, and we have to respect it. But we would like to always have the support of the supporters.

"Winning a 10th title in the history of the club is not trivial, and we would like to [enjoy the] experience with them."

It is reported that the club's main supporter group, Virage Auteuil, are continuing to protest the lack of changes at a boardroom and management level after a disappointing Champions League exit against Real Madrid, but Marquinhos said it still caught him by surprise.

"I wasn’t expecting it. It wasn’t the right time to do that," he said.

"I understand if they haven’t gotten a response, [but] they should have put their pride to one side. As a player, I don’t agree with it."

A Classique by name but certainly not by nature, Paris Saint-Germain took a step closer to the inevitable eighth Ligue 1 title of the QSI era thanks to goals from Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Predictably, Lionel Messi's name did not feature on the scoresheet. Predictably, Neymar's name found its way into the referee's book after a foul followed by a tantrum.

These games are not always predictable of course. Few saw the five stoppage-time red cards coming when these teams last met at the Parc des Princes in Ligue 1, back in September 2020.

All hell broke loose on that occasion when the game's simmering tension reached boiling point. Accusations were flung this way and that, with the red-carded Neymar at the centre of many of them. Marseille won that game 1-0, doling out another painful blow to a PSG side who had lost the Champions League final to Bayern Munich just three weeks earlier.

PSG ridiculously failed to win Ligue 1 last season, an embarrassment considering the riches of their talent pool, but the trophy – L'Hexagoal – is heading back to the capital, and Sunday's 2-1 win over Marseille put the Parisian club 15 points clear with six rounds of games to play.

They could wrap up the title in midweek, but what would it really mean? Will it save Mauricio Pochettino's job? Probably not. Will it be the determining factor in whether Mbappe signs a new deal or heads to Madrid? Probably not. Will the PSG fans celebrate it with any great gusto? No, probably not, given many are apparently pig-sick of the club's leadership.

The Ligue 1 title has been reduced to a matter of interest only when PSG do not win it, given it should be a formality each season. And so on they plod, this gaggle of megastars and their various chums.

 

It is not quite the 'Zidanes and Pavons' policy of Real Madrid's Galacticos late period, but PSG are similarly top-heavy. While that Madrid side struggled at times in the league, they could put it together in the Champions League, the competition that remains out of reach for this PSG incarnation.

Was this Pochettino's final Classique? There are no assurances forthcoming over his future. If it is, he has nudged PSG ahead of Marseille on the all-time record between the teams in Ligue 1. This was a 33rd victory in the series, with Marseille having won 32 times and 20 of the league games having been drawn.

So one-sided has this rivalry become, however, that PSG have only lost one of the last 20 such league tussles between the sides (W15 D4).

That's a rivalry, only in the sense that Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova was a rivalry on the tennis court. Williams lost two of their first three matches, then won the next 19 before Sharapova retired, barring one walk-over.

Sunday's encounter was certainly not a walk-over for PSG, as Marseille made a match of this Classique at times, recovering from Neymar's early strike to draw level through Duje Caleta-Car, with Gianluigi Donnarumma adding to his bloopers file as he failed to gather Dimitri Payet's corner. 

Neymar had a free-kick well saved by Pau Lopez, Messi had a couple of goals ruled out for offside calls, Mbappe smashed home a penalty after Neymar's shot was handled. William Saliba was denied a late Marseille equaliser after a VAR review showed he was narrowly offside. PSG actually finished this game having seen just 42 per cent of the ball, their lowest total in a Ligue 1 game since February 2013, also against Marseille.

And of course Neymar flapped indignantly after being booked for fouling Matteo Guendouzi. Just for a moment the combustible Brazilian looked to be risking a second yellow with his protests.

PSG can be fun to watch when they lose the plot, or when they attempt defending, but the joy that should be gleaned from seeing Neymar, Messi and Mbappe together is tempered by the sense of formality about all of this.

 

Almost 30 years have passed since it was Marseille's ownership that had critics up in arms, during the scandal-hit Bernard Tapie era, when it was OM who had the biggest stars.

In 1993, the year Marseille won the Champions League, Alen Boksic, Rudi Voller and Abedi Pele complemented a rich French contingent that included Basile Boli, Fabien Barthez, Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps.

The PSG of that era had stars too – David Ginola, George Weah and Valdo among them – and the great rivalry was ostensibly born, but the modern-day Marseille are no competition on a man-for-man basis with the current Parisian legion of luminaries.

Tycoon Tapie's substantial wealth and Marseille's financial clout had nothing on the Qatar Sports Investments money muscle behind PSG, though.

French football has been dealt the derogatory tag of a "farmer's league", a title bestowed due to a perceived lack of competition. And when the joie de vivre has been sucked out of even Le Classique, where does the game go from here?

Paris Saint-Germain came out on top 2-1 in a tight tussle with Marseille in Sunday's Classique, with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe securing the bragging rights.

All three goals were scored before half-time in a match that was far from classic between Ligue 1's top two teams.

Duje Caleta-Car had cancelled out Neymar's opener, before Mbappe struck from the penalty spot to restore parity, with Marseille having what they thought was an equaliser disallowed by VAR late on.

The win maintains PSG's strong form after Mauricio Pochettino’s side won their previous two fixtures 5-1 and 6-1, and moves them closer to putting the finishing touches on regaining the Ligue 1 title.

Neymar hailed fellow hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe and PSG assists king Lionel Messi as "geniuses" after the 6-1 win over Clermont.

The Brazilian also echoed Mbappe's verdict that it was a "shame" the superstar trio had not been able to link up more often this season.

Messi claimed three assists in the Ligue 1 leaders' rampant away victory on Saturday night, becoming the first player to claim three assists on two separate occasions in the French top flight since Opta data for the competition began in 2006-07, having previously assisted three goals against Saint-Etienne in November.

The former Barcelona captain has averaged an impressive 0.73 assists per 90 minutes on the pitch during his first season in Ligue 1, a team-high.

Meanwhile, the trebles scored by Mbappe and Neymar meant they became the first Ligue 1 team-mates to net hat-tricks in the same game since Mbappe and Edinson Cavani did so against Guingamp in January 2019. Prior to that, the last team to achieve the feat were Bordeaux against Valenciennes in August 1979.

Speaking after reaching double figures for Ligue 1 goals this season, Neymar was delighted with PSG's performance and said the relationship between the front three is improving with every match.

"I am very pleased to have scored my first hat-trick of the season," Neymar said.

"And [I'm] even happier with the win and our attitude. It's important that the chemistry between us get stronger in every match."

The win represented just the 14th occasion across all competitions when all three attackers have started together this season, leading Mbappe to say it was a "shame" PSG fans had been forced to wait until now to see them perform regularly together.

Neymar delivered a similar sentiment, while labelling his attacking partners "extraordinary".

"Unfortunately, everyone has gotten to pretty much 100 per cent only at the end of the season," Neymar said, quoted on the official Ligue 1 website.

"It's a shame, but I am very happy with everything that we are showing on the pitch. It's a lot easier to play with players who are very intelligent.

"Leo and Kylian are extraordinary, they are two geniuses."

PSG's last 11 Ligue 1 goals have been scored by Mbappe (five), Neymar (five) or Messi (one), and Mauricio Pochettino's men are closing in on the French title.

Neymar, meanwhile, has now scored against 24 of the 25 opponents he has faced in Ligue 1, the exception being Brest, and the treble was his first since January 2018, when he scored four goals against Dijon.

Kylian Mbappe regretted only getting a chance to click with Neymar and Lionel Messi late in Paris Saint-Germain's season and was guarded on how it would affect his future.

Mbappe and Neymar scored hat-tricks as PSG claimed a 6-1 victory over Clermont on Saturday, sending Mauricio Pochettino's men 15 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit.

It was the first time two team-mates have scored trebles in the same top-flight game since Mbappe and Edinson Cavani did so for PSG against Guingamp in January 2019. The most recent occasion prior to that was Albert Gemmrich and Gerard Soler for Bordeaux against Valenciennes in August 1979.

Neymar and Mbappe set one another up once each, while Messi had a trio of assists to become the first player to achieve that on three occasions in a single Ligue 1 season since Opta began collecting the data in 2006-07.

However, it was only the 14th match the trio have started together in all competitions this season. Last weekend's 5-1 success at Lorient was the first time they had all found the back of the net in the same game.

It remains to be seen whether Mbappe will continue to play with Messi and Neymar next season, as his contract is due to expire at the end of the campaign and he has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid.

Mbappe admitted it was frustrating the trio were only getting a chance to meet expectations with the Ligue 1 title the only trophy available to them. 

"It's a shame it's only happening now. There were a lot of circumstances and events that caused us to be delayed a little," Mbappe told Canal+. 

"We feel that we are three quality players and try to help the team as much as possible. 

"We are happy. We had a lot of fun and I think we gave the fans some too. We remain on the road to the 10th title, which is not very far away." 

However, Mbappe refused to be drawn on whether his relationship with Messi and Neymar would encourage him to stay at the Parc des Princes. 

"I've already answered," he said. "Neymar and Messi have been here since July. I've seen them many times. I've already answered." 

PSG were eliminated from the Coupe de France on penalties by Nice in January and failed to get past Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League. 

Mbappe added: "Life is like this. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You always have to look ahead. 

"It's gone now. We had pain, it is still present but we must be positive, show we are a great club, a great team and we are here to win trophies." 

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar scored hat-tricks as Paris Saint-Germain brought an emphatic end to their poor away form with a resounding 6-1 victory at Clermont in Ligue 1. 

Neymar and Mbappe struck in the opening 19 minutes as PSG ended a run of four straight losses on the road in all competitions and moved 15 points clear at the summit.

Jodel Dossou pulled one back for Clermont but Neymar scored from the spot and then set up Mbappe three minutes later as Mauricio Pochettino's men showed their teeth in the closing stages.

Mbappe completed his hat-trick with 10 minutes remaining and then returned the favour for Neymar, teeing him up for his third as PSG stayed on track for the title.

The visitors took the lead in controversial circumstances, Neymar's goal being allowed to stand despite Alidu Seidu being prone in the box after having his foot stepped on by Mbappe. 

Lionel Messi controlled Neymar's pass on his chest and volleyed a throughball in behind for Mbappe to poke past Arthur Desmas, but Clermont grew into the game and halved the deficit through Dossou before half-time.

Messi had a goal disallowed for offside before Mbappe was felled by Akim Zedadka in the box and Neymar slotted home the resulting spot-kick with the utmost composure in the 71st minute 

A magnificent outside-of-the-boot throughball over the top from Neymar set Mbappe on his way to his second and the France star made it three with a powerful finish from the edge of the box.

Mbappe then raced onto a pass from Georginio Wijnaldum and squared across the face of goal for Neymar to round off the scoring with 83 minutes played.

What does it mean? PSG close in on title 

With Rennes moving level on points with Marseille in second earlier on Saturday, PSG could find themselves a point away from reclaiming their Ligue 1 crown by the end of next weekend. 

Victory over Marseille at the Parc des Princes combined with Rennes losing to Monaco would leave them 18 points clear with just six games to play. 

Magical Messi-Mbappe link-up 

His first season at PSG has not quite lived up to expectations, but Messi was at his creative best against Clermont. The Argentina captain has now combined with Mbappe for eight goals in Ligue 1 this season.

Full-backs switch off 

Achraf Hakimi was caught in possession ahead of Clermont's goal and Dossou's run to the back post was not tracked by Nuno Mendes. Neither will be pleased with their role in PSG failing to keep an away clean sheet in Ligue 1 for the first time since October. 

What's next? 

PSG have Le Classique against Marseille to look forward to next Sunday, when Clermont will hope to boost their survival hopes at 19th-placed Metz. 

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