PSG in the relegation zone as they search for first win of the season against Metz

Look at the Ligue 1 table, you may have to take a double look or even a triple look before you believe your eyes and see that PSG are in 17th place.

The champions have lost their first two games of the season for the first time in 42 years. Defeats against Lens 1-0 on the opening weekend of the season and then a 1-0 loss to Marseille in Paris last weekend means that they come into this game on zero points with zero goals.

Metz who are expected to struggle this season are on the same page as PSG, how rare is that? The club have also lost their opening two games, but that was expected, PSG’s wasn’t.

Of course the champions begun the season depleted with up to 7 players affected with the Coronavirus after the club allowed the team to go on holiday to Ibiza a week after they lost the Champions League final to Bayern Munich. There was still some quality in the PSG team that faced Lens though, but they were still defeated.

Against Marseille, some came back including Neymar and PSG played some good football but it was their rivals that scored the only goal of the game and then the melee at the end saw 5 players sent off, including Neymar which rules him out of this game.

PSG will be the huge odds on favourites to get it right against Metz though and the game is in Paris, this should be the match to break the duck for the club, if it isn’t there will be serious questions launched at them even if they have had some problems in preparing for the new league season.

Thomas Tuchel the PSG coach will be under pressure when the game takes place tonight and he had this to say, “Everyone thinks there is a results crisis, and in fact that’s the case. We have lost three in a row [counting the Champions League final, against Bayern Munich] and we’re not used to that. But we’ve had some good matches and I was surprised to see how we played against OM. We controlled the match. There were one or two classes of difference between the two teams. Complete domination, but you can lose a match like that.”

As for Metz they will try and go for the win playing the counter attack and will hope to score a goal at least and give PSG a game. Players such as Marquinhos and Mauro Icardi will be back for the champions, but Kylian Mbappe is still missing.

 

Who is Real Madrid target Dani Olmo?

One of the best youngsters in European football Dani Olmo is a new target for Real Madrid.

The 21-year old attacking midfielder had a promising season in Leipzig scoring three goals in 12 matches, numbers that do not sound very impressive, but his talent didn’t go unnoticed by the scouts of many European clubs.

Real Madrid has shown serious interest in the youngster who is one of the leaders of the U-21 Spanish national team and has already played twice for the senior squad scoring one goal. His confidence and maturity in his game in the Bundesliga are something that Zinedine Zidane would like to see in his squad.

According to Transfermarkt Olmo’s price tag  is €31.5 million, but Real are reportedly ready to pay up to €40 million for the young Spaniard. Leipzig has already lost Timo Werner and Patrik Schick in this transfer window and are not likely to be keen to lose another of their star players from the starting squad but it is hard to refuse an offer as large as this.

The interest from Real is confirmed by the player’s agent Andy Bara who says that his player is happy in Leipzig but that anything can happen in the next 10 days.

Olmo is seen as one of the most talented players in Spain’s latest generation of midfield maestros. What makes him outstanding are his technical skills with the ball at his feet. His close control is impressive to watch. Also he has the ability to score from outside the box.

The young Spaniard started his career at La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy which has produced players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Leo Messi.

At the age of 16 he went professional and signed his first contract with Dinamo Zagreb. He won the award for the best player in the Croatian championship at only 19 years of age. The same season he made his Champions League debut in a 4-0 win against Atalanta and only a few weeks later he scored his first goal on the big stage against Shakhtar Donetsk.

After five seasons with Dinamo, in January 2020 Olmo signed a four year deal with Leipzig. Spending only half a season with his new club and establishing himself as one of the main players in Julian Nagelsmann’s squad it seems like staying with the Bundesliga team is also an option, but if Real Madrid put €40 million on the table it is an offer that likely cannot be refused.

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Neymar faces 7-match ban for red card

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar faces a suspension of up to seven games following his dismissal during Sunday’s defeat to Olympique Marseille in Le Classique.

The 28-year-old was one of five players sent off in stoppage time as a scuffle broke out between the two rivals.

Dario Benedetto shoved Leandro Paredes to the ground in stoppage time to start the brawl. The game had been boiling over for several minutes prior.

Both Benedetto and Parades were shown their marching orders, as were full-backs Layvin Kurzawa and Jordan Amavi for exchanging kicks.

Referee Jerome Brisard then consulted the VAR to be shown replays of Neymar slapping Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez in the back of his head. The Brazilian superstar was subsequently shown a red card.

The LFP Disciplinary Committee rules, an act of aggression off-the-ball could warrant a suspension of up to seven games. Should the red card is deemed an attempted assault, Neymar can be suspended for up to six games.

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Neymar cites racism for red card in defeat

Paris Saint-Germain were handed their second defeat to start the 2020-21 French Ligue 1 season as they went down 0-1 against rivals Olympique Marseille in La Classique at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night.

Florian Thauvin scored the game’s only goal on half hour by volleying Dimitri Payet’s delivery from a free kick, but all the talking points came deep in stoppage time as five players were shown their marching orders.

The match had been at boiling point before Marseille’s Dario Benedetto shoved Leandro Paredes off the ball. The Argentinian retaliated and a brawl ensued.

Layvin Kurzawa and Jordan Amavi exchanged kicks and both were shown red cards. Benedetto and Paredes were next to be dismissed for their involvement before referee Jerome Brisard consulted the VAR screen.

Replays showed Neymar slapping the back of the head of Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez and was duly asked to leave the field of play in the ninth minute of stoppage time.

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Who will Koeman bring in to establish new Barcelona side?

After Leo Messi decided, begrudgingly, to stay with the club, the new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman can now focus on bringing in new players who will help him take the club back to winning titles.

Main targets for the 57 year-old manager are his fellow Dutchmen Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum. Both players have been part of the Netherlands national team when Koeman was in charge and sees them as great assets for the upcoming season.

In the past three decades, around 20 Dutch players have played significant roles in Barcelona’s success, and after the first trophy-less season since 2008, Koeman goes with with a proven recipe for winning in Spain as a player, that he will need to replicate from the bench.

Barcelona is ready to spend around €55 million on the two players, 30 for Wijnaldum and 25 for Depay.

The club management wanted to bring Thiago Alcantara back in their squad, but the new manager prefers Liverpool’s Wijnaldum who will may well be replaced in the Premier League champions’ side by Alcantara. Wijnaldum is reportedly unhappy with the Reds’ extension offer and has already agreed personal terms with the Catalan giant.

Wijnaldum was one of the key players in Jurgen Klopp’s championship winning team, and Barcelona’s fans remember him for the two goals he scored against them in a fantastic 4-0 victory in the return match of the 2019 Champions League semi-finals. The winning mentality, coachability and work ethic are the reasons why Koeman insists on Wijnaldum. The 29-year-old is known as a player who covers a lot of ground on the pitch and helps the team defensively and in attack, something that Koeman especially needs in setting up his system in the Barcelona’s playing style.

In a similar situation in his current team is Memphis Depay who, like Wijnaldum, is entering his last year of his contract with Lyon. The French team is aware that they won’t be able to keep him and are determined to sell in this transfer window. Depay was on Barcelona’s wish list even prior to Koeman’s arrival, and now especially with the departure of Suarez, it is almost certain that Depay will take his place in the Barca’s attack. Depay is known as a good scorer, but also a great technician who would fit in well with the midfield.

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Man City near Koulibaly signing to shore up defence

Following Leo Messi‘s decision to stay in Barcelona, the management of Manchester City is fully committed to bringing in a defender in the form of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli. The two clubs are expected to reach a final agreement on the transfer of the defender for €75 million, which will be the highest transfer in the history of Man City, even more than the transfer of Kevin de Bruyne from Wolfsburg.

Although Napoli has so far rejected two offers from City, worth €65 million and €68 million, it seems that the offer of €75 million will be accepted by Aurelio De Laurentiis, who initially demanded for as much as €100 million for the Senegalese.

With this transfer, Koulibaly will become the fifth most expensive defender in history. Harry Maguire is undisputed as the most expensive defender, with his transfer from Leicester City to Manchester United for €87 million. Juventus paid €85.5 million for Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax, Liverpool paid Southampton €84.6 million for Virgil van Dijk and €80 million was paid by Bayern Munich for Lucas Hernandez to Atletico Madrid.

As for the salary of the Senegalese, it is speculated that €9 million has been agreed with possible bonuses of €3 million depending on the results of the team.

After the departure of Vincent Kompany, the central defensive position became one of the most vulnerable spots in Guardiola’s squad. Without the experienced captain, there was a lack of stability in City’s defense, which was visible throughout last season. Given that City’s owners are only interested in winning, it was clear that the Citizens would again be very active in the transfer market.

Besides Koulibaly, City also targeted Dayot Upamecano from Leipzig, but the Senegalese’s leadership skills are what they really need. While it cannot be expected that only one player can close the gap between City and Liverpool who dominated the Premier League last season, bringing in the 29 year-old would be a huge step forward in that direction.

Koulibaly was one of the key players behind the rise of Napoli in the last few seasons, who have established themselves as regular participants in the Champions League and one of Juventus’ main competitors in Serie A.

Almost all of the top European clubs were interested in signing the central defender and it seems that Napoli have finally made the decision to part ways with their best player. With the funds from the transfer, Gennaro Gattuso will be able to improve other positions in his team, and the fact that Koulibaly will go to England, and not to one of the competitors in the domestic championship goes in their favour.

Koulibaly started his career in Metz’s second team, but very soon made his debut in the first team as a 19-year-old after manager Dominique Bijotat recognized his great potential. After three seasons in the French championship, he moved to Genk where he spent two seasons, and in 2014 he moved to Napoli for a transfer of €6.5 million. Under the leadership of the manager Maurizio Sarri, Koulibaly has grown from a solid footballer to one of Seire A’s top players.

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Under Niko Kovac can Monaco bounce back and become challengers once more?

It’s incredible to think that it was only in 2017 when Monaco won Ligue 1 and wrestled the title from PSG’s hands. Since 2012 only PSG have been champions of France apart from Monaco’s saving grace three years ago. But it is a fact that it remains incredible given how Monaco fell to pieces soon after.

Twice since then the club have almost been relegated and had to fight for everything. Much of this was not down to Leonardo Jardim their long time and suffering coach who actually had two spells at the club in a quite chaotic time. Jardim made miracles happen, but the owners were intent on buying cheap and selling for profit and Monaco soon became the stock exchange of European football.

There has been so much brilliant talent come out of the side in the past 3 years with the creme de la creme being the emergence of Kylian Mbappe who predictably was snapped up by PSG. Monaco have done amazing financial business but it has hit them. One suspects that the club are looking in a different direction as they try to become challengers once again.

They have employed Niko Kovac, ex Bayern Munich coach who won the German Bundesliga with them. He comes with some experience, and there was certainly hope last season as Monaco finished in the top half of the table after a decent run.

The signing of Wissam Ben Yedder from Sevilla has been some of the best business seen in Europe- Ben Yedder scores goals and wins games. He scored 19 goals in all competitions for Monaco last season from just 30 games, and is a natural striker.

This feels like the first summer where you look at who Monaco have sold and there are no gasps- they have actually kept their best players. Much of their transfers in have remained officially undisclosed but they have still brought in some interesting players for the new season ahead. These include Kevin Volland from Bayer Leverkusen and Caio Henrique from Atletico Madrid both quality players.

But what really catches the eye if you follow French football is that they have also bought Axel Disasi from Reims, Disasi was probably Reims best player last season and this is a really great capture.

As for this season Monaco have started with 4 points from 2 games. They drew 2-2 with Reims at home which felt like a poor result but given that they were trailing by 2 goals it was actually a good point. They then beat Metz 1-0 the week after. Monaco will be looking to challenge strong in the league this season. Whilst winning the league seems too much of a stretch this season there is every chance they can claim a Champions League place and be back on the football scene once more.

Neymar, Mbappe and 5 other PSG players have Coronavirus as league campaign due to start in chaos

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. PSG have confirmed at least 6 of their players have the Coronavirus ahead of the new season, and largely it is the clubs fault.

Most of the players involved were authorised to go on a special holiday to Ibiza, even during a pandemic after the disappointment of losing the Champions League final against Bayern Munich. Because of course when you lose, you go and on holiday and have a great time. But the risks have been very clear in the past few months, and photos of the players relaxing showed them arm in arm.

Indeed let’s go back to the medal presentation at the final itself where UEFA staff including the president Aleksander Ceferin freely shook all of the players hands, and of course no masks were involved. Time and again it seems mistakes have been made and now PSG are paying for this.

The club have not confirmed all the players that have tested positive, but L’equipe, France’s main sports paper, says that Marquinhos and Neymar are amongst the players affected. Both have been omitted from PSG’s first game of the season against Lens tomorrow. Kylian Mbappe was exposed as another who tested positive much to the anger of the club, with that news getting out. However what difference does it make?

This is a bad moment for PSG who will be weakened by this news for at least the first 2 games of the new season. They have already started 2 games behind the other clubs, although they will be heavy favourites to win the league once again.

The story exposes just how bad certain things have been planned between players and safety and of course it would be wrong to point the finger solely at PSG, Montpellier and Rennes have been hit too and in France the cases are increasing especially around the Paris area.

But maybe to have star players who have fallen ill to the virus will be a slight embarrassment to the club just as role models, and it is evident that they haven’t been following strict protocol. The news now of course is to wish every player the best with their health and see them on the pitch once again. And it goes to show just how easy it is to get the virus.

Lens who have been newly promoted this season will be boosted not by the virus of course but by some key players being left out of the game tomorrow, and they will feel they have a real chance to get some points in that game.

 

 

Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and Harry Maguire have embarrassed England and Gareth Southgate has a huge job on his hands

Nothing has changed from the England mental attitude of the 1970s, 80s, or 90s, and this is something that current manager Gareth Southgate learned in the most direct way in the past few weeks.

Players that are supposed to be upstanding professionals have let themselves down and let football down, and let Southgate down. So much so that even some sections of the press are wondering if Southgate is up to the job. Here is the man that led a very average England side to the semi-finals of the World Cup and the Nations League in its first edition. There is a lot of potential in this England side but Southgate ultimately might never get the chance to realise it, but he is not the major problem. The players are.

Not every player of course, but once one player makes off the pitch mistakes it just seeps into the squad. A laugh here, a jibe there. Harry Maguire the captain of the national side getting involved in a reported punch up in Greece with police, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood arranging for two women to join them in a hotel, it all just harks back to tabloid heaven from the 1990s.

You don’t see continental and international players keep getting themselves in the headlines for the wrong reasons, scandal after scandal seems to follow England and football, if it isn’t the fans it’s the players- and they are supposed to be the role models.

Southgate has tried to play down what Foden and Greenwood did, and true they are young, 38 years between them, they will hopefully learn. But still. The problem that Southgate has is that they are two very good players and are important to the England set up. They will miss perhaps one game, like they did yesterday, the Denmark one.But Southgate should write them off for the next 3 games at least- punish them properly make them really think about what they have done.

Young players will make mistakes but it also showed a lack of respect for preparation for the Denmark game. Do they not care about the UEFA Nations League or representing their country? Would they have tried the same on had this been a knock out World Cup game?

Scandals followed the England team even when Southgate was a player, as a manager he is trying to advance the team and put them in a more professional light. But Maguire, Foden and Greenwood have sent his plans hurtling back to the drawing board faster than a janitor hitting the ground after being punched by the Rock. His plans are in tatters, and one suspects after next summers Euro’s Southgate could be departing early, sadly little has changed within the England set up, even on the surface that doesn’t look like the case, it seems as if the problems are very deep rooted.

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2 defenders who could join PSG this summer

Paris Saint-Germain allowed four first team players to leave on free transfers at the end of the 2019-20 campaign as they look to rebuild in their bid for European success.

The French Ligue 1 champions reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history last month only to be beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich.

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar disappointed in the final third, whilst Thilo Kehrer was exposed at right-back, which saw Kingsley Coman getting the better of the right-back to score the game’s only goal.

Kehrer himself may not have started the final but for Thomas Meunier’s departure to Borussia Dortmund at the end of his contract on 1 July 2020. Edinson Cavani also missed the final after his contract expired at the same time.

However, club captain Thiago Silva remained with the French champions until after the final before joining English Premier League giants Chelsea on a free transfer.

PSG’s only signing so far this summer has been Mauro Icardi from Internazionale, with the Argentine having already spent last season on loan from the Serie A side. Icardi will be the long-term replacement for Cavani after the Uruguayan’s seven seasons at the Parc des Princes.

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