Cavani, Neymar on same wavelength as PSG target eighth straight win

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Paris Saint-Germain’s German coach Thomas Tuchel reacts at the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League group C football match between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel says he has done nothing special to improve the relationship between star forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani, despite the pair playing a key role in helping the French champions enjoy their best ever start to a season.

Cavani scored twice and won a penalty that was converted by Neymar as PSG came from behind to beat Reims 4-1 on Wednesday, making it seven wins from seven games this season.

Neymar’s first season in Paris following his world record transfer from Barcelona was brought to a premature end by a foot injury. But before that there were concerns the Brazilian had a frosty relationship with Cavani, with the duo notably bickering over penalty-taking duties.

There were no such problems on Wednesday, as the pair led PSG to another victory in the absence of the suspended Kylian Mbappe.

“I haven’t done anything special. It is important that they exchange with one another,” said Tuchel, whose team are already eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1.

“They play in the same team don’t they? I haven’t done anything. They are grown ups and, above all, they are pros.

“I also get the feeling that along with Kylian Mbappe and Angel (Di Maria) they are a quartet who want to win trophies and improve together.”

PSG go to Nice on Saturday looking for an eighth win out of eight in the league — if they do that they will match the best ever start to a season by any French club, set by Olympique Lillois in 1936.

– Mbappe back –
The good news for Tuchel is that Mbappe can return having completed his three-match ban, and the France star will surely feature ahead of next Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Red Star Belgrade.

PSG need a positive result in Europe after losing away to Liverpool in their opening group outing, but first they face Patrick Vieira’s Nice, who have won three of their last four matches, and can welcome back Mario Balotelli after he missed the midweek victory at Nantes.

“I know what I can get out of Mario at the moment and I am going to use him. He can maybe last an hour, or 80 minutes. The important thing is that he is ready to help the team,” said Vieira.

Lyon, Marseille and Lille are all eight points off top spot, and Lyon entertain a Nantes side whose Portuguese coach Miguel Cardoso is reported to be on the verge of the sack after a poor start to the season.

Meanwhile, Marseille go to Lille after beating Strasbourg 3-2 in midweek thanks to Valere Germain’s stoppage-time goal.

Monaco visit Saint-Etienne on Friday looking for a first win since the opening weekend of the season.

Player to watch: Nicolas Pepe
Lille must be delighted that the 23-year-old Ivory Coast international forward turned down the chance to move away from the club in the summer transfer window. The financially troubled northern side may have needed the money, but keeping Pepe gives them a much better chance of remaining up towards the top of the table.

He was unable to prevent Christophe Galtier’s side from losing at Bordeaux in midweek, but he has four goals this season and will be hoping to fire Lille to a fourth win from four home games when they host Marseille.

Fixtures

Friday

Saint-Etienne v Monaco (1845GMT)

Saturday

Nice v Paris Saint-Germain (1515GMT), Angers v Guingamp, Caen v Amiens, Lyon v Nantes, Reims v Bordeaux, Strasbourg v Dijon (all 1800GMT)

Sunday

Rennes v Toulouse (1300GMT), Montpellier v Nimes (1500GMT), Lille v Marseille (1900GMT)