Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel suggested the absence of their superstars helped them beat Real Madrid 3-0 in their Champions League opener.
Neymar, heavily linked with a summer move to Los Blancos, was ruled out through suspension and watched from the stands along with the injured Kylian Mbappe.
Edinson Cavani was also unable to feature due to a knock – but the French side got their European campaign off to a dream start regardless.
Tuchel felt their absences lowered expectations and enabled his side to perform better with the pressure off.
New signing Mauro Icardi led the line whilst Angel Di Maria came back to haunt his former club with two goals.
“Maybe the absence of Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe helped the team,” Tuchel said at his post-match press conference.
“Maybe the pressure was less because everybody was wondering how we could win without those three players.
“It can help because we weren’t favourites without Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani.
“It could have taken some of the pressure off the players.”
The Brazilian scored a sensational last-minute winner on his return in Ligue 1 at the weekend despite being booed by his own fans throughout the game for his summer conduct.
He missed the game with Real Madrid due to his Champions League suspension for an outburst at officials after their Manchester United defeat last season, although his ban has been reduced to two games upon appeal.
The German boss told DAZN: “You could feel that, and I can understand if the fans are angry, even permanently.
“Nevertheless, there is also a side between me as a coach and him as a player. There was never a break or a discrepancy. That’s why it was very easy for me to let him play. He has always trained professionally.
“I feel that the decision was a relief to him, even though it was against his wishes.
“Then, one is automatically focused on the task. As an athlete, there is not much else you can think about. You have to give your all. He is hungry and a competitive guy who always wants to win.
“He has to withstand it [the boos and whistles from the fans] now, that’s the reality. He has to go through it, and we all have to go through it in the home games. The best thing is to come to terms with it.”