Neymar needed a mere 10 minutes to open his Ligue 1 account for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday. The world's most expensive player put Les Parisiens in front in a 3-0 win over Caen at the Parce des Princes.
Adrien Rabiot doubled the lead before halftime after being teed up by Angel Di Maria.
Later, substitute Timothy Weah, who replaced Neymar on 81 minutes, capitalised on a mistake from Caen goalkeeper Brice Samba to score his first Ligue 1 goal and ensure manager Thomas Tuchel and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made winning starts in a league PSG won at a canter a season ago.
Neymar Lost in Central Role
Neymar didn't waste time getting his goal but still looked lost when forced into a central role. Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani were rested by new manager Thomas Tuchel, leaving Neymar to plough a tough furrow through the middle.
It wasn't an easy fit despite his smart finish after being played in by Christopher Nkunku. The goal maintained the Brazil international's remarkable consistency in Ligue 1:
Neymar has now scored 20 goals in 21 Ligue 1 games for PSG.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 12, 2018
Up and running after 10 minutes of his second season. 💨 pic.twitter.com/B8QNsBrAAm
Neymar's prolific run in the French top flight has been built on thriving in front of home fans:
Goals have never been a problem for Neymar, but the former Barcelona ace looked ill at ease as a false 9. He didn't see much of the ball and was unable to exert any creative influence.
It was a far cry from how often Neymar featured in possession last season on the watch of Unai Emery. The new Arsenal head coach put Neymar on the left flank and gave him license to drop deep and collect the ball, positioning him to thread passes through the lines.
It's a role he will surely return to once Mbappe and Cavani are integrated back into the fold. Neymar will surely be more involved in every phase of the game in the final third.
PSG Must Give Young Talents More Chances
World Cup exertions meant Tuchel left key stars out, including Cavani and Mbappe, while Julian Draxler was on the bench. Their absences gave PSG's deep crop of impressive youngsters chances to shine.
Two 19-year-olds were in the starting XI (defender Stanley N'Soki and midfielder Antoine Bernede) along with forward Christopher Nkunku, 20. The latter showcased his vision and technique by playing in Neymar for the opener with a pinpoint, slide-rule pass.
Nkunku caught the eye thanks to flair and confidence in possession belying his tender years:
Christopher Nkunku, 20, was very impressive when he played for PSG last season and genuinely looks like a top class player in the making.— Jerome Pugmire (@jeromepugmire) August 12, 2018
Fortunately for Tuchel, Nkunku and Co. aren't the only precocious talents at his disposal. Centre-back Presnel Kimpembe is just 22 but still merited a place in France's World Cup-winning squad this summer after making a great impression under Emery last season.
Further forward, 18-year-old attacker Weah is another dynamic and intriguing prospect Tuchel would be wise to get involved more often after the teenager got off the mark a minute before the end.
Timothy Weah is the sixth-youngest player to score for PSG in Ligue 1 at the Parc de Princes:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 12, 2018
🇫🇷 Nicolas Anelka (1996)
🇫🇷 Dominique Barberat (1976)
🇳🇬 Bartholomew Ogbeche (2002)
🇫🇷 Adrien Rabiot (2013)
🇫🇷 Jean-Kévin Augustin (2015)
🇺🇸 Timothy Weah (2018) pic.twitter.com/R9Qrf5axMD
PSG have the riches to buy any ready-made star on the planet, while any of the big names still working toward fitness would fit into most of Europe's other top squads.
Yet the enviable resources available to Tuchel must not deter him from giving more chances to the up-and-coming prospects in his squad.
Gianluigi Buffon Will Fix PSG's Champions League Achilles Heel
Mixing experience with the right amount of youth can be a winning formula for Tuchel, particularly in the UEFA Champions League, the one trophy still eluding Les Parisiens.
Tuchel will want to rely on Buffon, who should fix the goalkeeper position after his lengthy and decorated spell with Juventus. The 40-year-old stopper made a solid start to his Ligue 1 adventure with some useful saves against Caen:
Decent first Ligue 1 save from Buffon to keep Tchokounte out. #PSGSMC— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) August 12, 2018
Thiago Silva nearly scores a spectacular diving header... into his own goal. Lucky #Buffon is awake to make a very, very good diving stop.— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) August 12, 2018
Buffon hasn't been signed to make a difference domestically, though. PSG are already dominant enough on home soil to get by with a less accomplished keeper.
Instead, Buffon needs to change the club's fortunes in the continent's premier club tournament. He helped the Bianconeri reach three finals, and while he lost them all, Les Parisiens can only dream of progressing so far.
Heavy defeats, like those incurred against Barcelona and Real Madrid in recent years, won't happen with a better player between the posts.
Neymar and PSG will be at Guingamp on Saturday, August 18, while Caen will host Patrick Vieira's Nice on the same day.