Neymar must prove himself versus Atalanta

neymar

Expectations are on Paris Saint-Germain to at least reach the final of this season’s Champions League following the restart.

The French champions are set to take on Atalanta in their single-legged quarter-final on Wednesday, to setup a semi-final with either Atletico Madrid or RB Leipzig.

Diego Simeone’s side have not been their usual selves this season, though they did go unbeaten in La Liga following the restart, albeit only winning three of their 11 games by more than one goa.

As for RB Leipzig, they face an uphill task to get past the Spaniards in the quarter-finals, let alone PSG or Atalanta, solely because of the sale of Timo Werner to Chelsea following the end of the 2019-20 Bundesilga campaign.

The German hotshot had been responsible for 28 of their 81 league goals this past season and four of their 14 in the Champions League.

PSG’s first task though is to overcome an Atalanta side who themselves went their first 12 games unbeaten following the restart, winning nine, and finishing third to qualify for next season’s competition too.

The Italian side also kept four clean sheets during that run, a marked improvement to the first part of the season, also beating both Lazio and Napoli, and drawing 2-2 with champions Juventus, who relied on two penalties for their equalisers.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s are set to be without star midfielder Josip Ilicic due to depression though, but Paris Saint-Germain themselves don’t have a full bill of health.

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Will PSG progress past Atalanta?

The 2019-20 Champions League quarter-finals take place this week, kicking off with Atalanta against Paris Saint-Germain at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on Wednesday.

With the remainder of the competition take place in a single-legged, World Cup-style format, the trophy is anyone’s from this stage. And the much-anticipated match between the French champions and entertaining Italians is between two teams who have never won the competition before.

Six of the remaining eight sides have never won the Champions League in its current format or its previous, the European Cup. The only two remaining teams that have, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, meet each other in the quarter-finals on Friday.

The winner of that tie will meet either Manchester City or Lyon in the semi-finals, whilst PSG could meet either Atletico Madrid or RB Leipzig in the semi-final if they get past Atalanta.

Thomas Tuchel’s side head into the match as the bookmakers’ favourites but many see an update on the cards in this one with the form of the Serie A side after the restart – winning nine of their 13 league games to finish third. They held champions Juventus to a 2-2 draw and recorded victories over Lazio and Napoli.

The Bergamo club reached the knockout stages of the Champions League despite picking up just one point from their first four group stage games, winning 3-0 away to Shakhtar Donetsk in their final game to leapfrog the Ukrainian Premier League side into second spot.

Atalanta then beat Valencia 8-4 in a thrilling Round of 16 tie before the disruption.

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Ronaldo wanted PSG move

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo was unhappy in Italy and wanted a move to Paris Saint-Germain prior to the disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The 35-year-old is only in his second season in Turin following his €100 million move from Real Madrid but reports today have come out saying that the Portuguese superstar wanted a move to PSG this summer.

Ronaldo’s global brand alone would have been a huge attraction for the French champions, and partnering him with the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in attack would have immediately put Thomas Tuchel’s side among the favourites to win the Champions League.

PSG could still accomplish that this season even without the five-time winner, as they are set to face Atalanta in the single-legged quarter-finals next week.

Despite their riches and domestic dominance over the past eight years, the Parisians are still to progress past the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club cup competition this millennium. In fact, the only time they have accomplished this in their history was in 1994-95, when they were beaten 3-0 on aggregate by AC Milan in the semi-finals. Their sole European trophy to date came the following season when they beat Rapid Vienna in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 goals in 33 Serie A appearances this past season, 12 of those coming from the penalty spot, as he helped Juventus win their ninth consecutive Scudetto. Maurizio Sarri’s side too remain in the Champions League, but they are looking to overturn a 0-1 deficit against Lyon in their Round of 16 second leg on Friday. However, Ronaldo has not tasted Coppa Italia success, with Juventus having previously won the domestic cup for each of the four seasons prior to his arrival.

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Ligue 1 to allow 5 substitutes in 2020/21

Clubs in France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 will be allowed to make up to five substitutes per match for the 2020/21 campaign, the French League (LFP) confirmed on Friday.

 

This follows a string of top European leagues to have already made the announcement, after successes in the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga among others following the restarts of their divisions this summer.

The additional substitution allowance was due to fixture congestion, with most teams playing two games each week to get their domestic campaigns finished and in order for the Champions League and Europa League’s to resume later this month.

However, teams will only be allowed to make these changes during three occasions during play, as well as at the half-time interval. Teams from France’s top two divisions will also be allowed to name up to nine substitutes in their matchday squads, compared to seven previously.

France cancelled their 20192/0 season indefinitely and awarded runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain the title on a points per game basis. The new season is set to start on Saturday 22 August, the day before the Champions League final, which PSG themselves could be involved in.

PSG are set to face Atalanta in the quarter-finals of the competition over in Lisbon Portugal on Wednesday 12 August.

 

How does this effect fantasy football?

This news, although no different from the other top European leagues, will likely make a huge difference in the 2020/21 fantasy football season.

Managers across the top divisions were able to rest their star players early in the second half after gaining a big lead, and essentially rest half of their outfield players with 20 or so minutes remaining at times.

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Ligue 1 Round Up: PSG roar on as Lyon’s bus is attacked in Marseille

The 13th week in Ligue 1 saw champions PSG reinstate their 8 point advantage at the top of the standings.

PSG were impressive away to Brest who had not lost at home this season and they came out 2-1 winners at a tough ground. Angel Di Maria opened the scoring and the impressive Mauro Icardi grabbed the winner. Icardi has been one of the most important signings made up PSG coach Thomas Tuchel as the club have repeatedly had injuries to their famed front three. This game was no different as both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were missing, but it was another 3 points for the club in the end.

Marseille have roared into 2nd place mostly because other clubs keep dropping points but they have won 3 of their last four games. At the weekend the club played a grudge match against Lyon, and these two famous rivals served up a treat which Marseille won 2-1. That stopped Lyon’s revival under new coach Rudi Garcia. Although Lyon’s team bus was attacked before the game and the club would have been shaken by that. One is reminded of when the same thing happened to Manchester City’s bus when they took on Liverpool in the Champions League.

Whilst the result leaves Lyon in 14th place with 16 points they are just six points behind 2nd placed Marseille, and there is a lot still to play for in the league.

Angers could have remained 2nd but slipped up to Reims and could only draw 0-0. They also ended the game with 10 men and the club have only won 1 game from their past five. One of the best form teams at the moment is Saint Etienne who have picked up 13 points from their last available 15. The club gained their 6th victory of the season when they beat Nantes 3-2 away from home. As for Nantes who were 2nd just a few weeks ago they are going through their worst form of the season and have now dropped to 9th place after losing 4 games in a row.

The bottom of the league remains tight. Nimes are last with 11 points and yet one win would take them into safety, but those wins will have to start coming soon. The club lost to Strasbourg 4-1. The worst form side of the league Toulouse are in 19th after losing 3-0 at Montpellier and Dijon remain in 18th after a close 1-0 defeat at the hands of Monaco.

Ligue 1 football resumes from the weekend of 22nd November where PSG will be at home against 5th place Lille. Marseille will take on Toulouse and be favourites to win that game. Can PSG’s 8 point lead be caught up? Probably not but that is the question on every French football fans’ mind. Only time will tell.

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Despite a summer of discontent Neymar proves he is one of the best players in world football

Neymar was back at the weekend for PSG after a summer trying to leave the French champions. The Brazilian could not force a move and the teams he wanted to move to in Barcelona and Real Madrid couldn’t afford him anyway. Under intense pressure to do well Neymar showed his class when he really had to and scored the winner against Strasbourg.

This wasn’t just any type of goal, this was a goal sent from the heavens that changed all of the sports headlines the world over because this game looked like it would end 0-0. In the final minute with PSG heading for a disappointing draw at home, Neymar latched onto a cross, and bicycle kick style shot for goal, the ball thundered in the net and the roar from the fans could be heard outside Paris.

At first Neymar did not celebrate then buoyed by his team mates he couldn’t resist but not too, the villain in this piece had suddenly turned to the hero.

What PSG’s ultra fans thought of that will be interesting. They put out a statement a few days ago saying that Neymar had disrespected the club and that it would take a long time to earn Neymar’s trust back. Well in a matter of seconds he went a long way to doing that.

Criticism is thrown at Neymar, the way he acts, the way he goes tumbling down and he has been wrong in trying to force a move out of Paris this summer. But one thing that can’t be taken from the Brazilian is just how supremely talented he is, when you see goals like he scored at the weekend then you know he is amongst the worlds best footballers- that’s what paying 200m euros does to a team and that’s why PSG were so stubborn in not wanting to sell him, no one could blame the club for that, when you see what Neymar can produce.

Something says that following this vital win and vital goal in such a vital game that Neymar’s forgiveness will be accepted much quicker from the die hard fans. Whilst some fans of ultra groups take everything within football too seriously, they did have a point, given that it should be an honour to play for PSG, and Neymar does need some making up to do. At the weekend he did that in the best possible fashion and after a summer of discontent, Neymar could have a very memorable season ahead of him, if that is what he so desires.

 

 

Ruthless PSG keep Neymar and now will go after the Ligue 1 title and Champions League

The transfer saga of Neymar finally ended on September 2nd when the extended European transfer window closed. And Neymar in the end has stayed at PSG, which was surprising news.

The Braziian had been a wantaway star for the past 3 months but a deal could not be secured between his suitors which were his former club Barcelona and Real Madrid. Though it is thought that Neymar’s preferred choice would have been Barca, well he ended up with none of them, the guest at a wedding how ends up single. What now for Neymar?

PSG will expect their player back after the international break where Neymar could play two friendlies, and they need him. The club have injuries to strikers Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe with Mbappe out for 4 weeks. Neymar needs to step in and hit the ground running and that means goals. How will fans react to Neymar still being in the team? True you’d want such a player, but he has talked only about wanting to leave the club. Once he starts scoring goals and winning games he will probably be invited back into the hearts of the fans, but long time loyal ones will be a little suspect of the player and he will have to earn their respect.

As for Neymar’s future, it’s very possible he could still leave in January, although that would mean he wouldn’t be able to play in the latter half of the Champions League. We must remember here is a player that doesn’t want to be in Paris, that reportedly wanted to pay 20m euros to help a deal go through. So his future with the French champions is still uncertain.

What is certain is PSG have been stubborn and ruthless over Neymar’s transfer, it’s something that you can’t blame them for. Why lose out financially on a player that cost you over 200m euros just a couple of seasons ago? At the same time you could argue that Neymar being in the club had become toxic, his friendship at least with Mbappe looks damaged. Again wins and goals could well help repair that.

Despite PSG having to face a less than happy beginning to the season they are still top of the league with 9 points and lead on goal difference from Rennes, Nice and Angers, and they will go after the league again. The step up in the Champions League is also required and out of all of the players coming in this summer one has to be impressed by their last minute loan signing of Mauro Icardi from Inter Milan. Icardi regularly gets 20 goals a season and he should be a success in France.

PSG may have already lost a game, and been in the press for the wrong reasons, but make no mistake every team in France should be worried, because they look stronger than ever.

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Why PSG are to blame for Neymar’s transfer saga

The Neymar transfer saga keeps on raging on and it is threatening to undermine PSG’s season, the champions have already lost one game and further more could happen until the team know exactly what is happnening with the Brazilian.

Tensions were brought to a head when in the curtain raiser of the season PSG beat Rennes in the cup competition, league champions who meet the cup winners and Neymar who didn’t play in the game went to be part of the photo celebrations but was pushed out of the photo by Kylian Mbappe, who now sees himself as PSG’s main player.

So Neymar has been very distant, some claim him to be injured that is the offical story, but let’s be honest, coach Thomas Tuchel is not going to select someone whose mind is clearly elsewhere.

It is clear that Neymar will never play for PSG again, so what is the delay all about? The obvious answer would be that PSG want a decent deal, after all they paid over 200m euros for him. The fact is that PSG should simply be looking for a long term deal and demand those terms. Players can be involved but they should be able to get back the money they invested. If it takes Barcelona or Real Madrid four or five years to finish up payments then so be it, PSG are not clamouring for money, and they don’t need it. So why not be able to wait for some payments, and get rid of the problem which is Neymar.

The saga of Neymar is not then Barcelona or Real Madrid’s fault to find the price tag and or players to swap, its solely down to PSG- Neymar has never wanted to be there, and getting him in the first place was the biggest mistake. PSG would still have won the league and cups they have entered, and so all in all his acquistions save for shirt sales and fan hype seems unfounded.

Now that PSG have made the mistake in getting Neymar, they need to sell him, the whole situation has made little sense. Except that the deal you want you can’t have now, but later it will work out. In being stubborn with a player they should never have bought they are making it toxic for the club and throughtout this summer PSG have been appearing in the press for all the wrong reasons. This one looks like it will drag until the deathly hours when the window finally closes on September 2nd. It couldn’t come quick enough.

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Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Benoit Costil

Benoit Costil’s career will always be remembered by his time at Rennes but since 2017 he has been guarding the goal of Bordeaux and this past season he had a decent campaign with Bordeaux finishing in the top half of the league and for him he finished 7th with 35 points.

During the season he kept 9 clean sheets which was impressive for the 32 year old and he ended up being the only goal keeper from the top 9 in Ligue 1 that was neither sent off or booked for the whole season.

Costil’s went into last season with a value of 8m. While Bordeaux struggled at times, they did find enough form at one point in the season to think they could challenge for a Europa League finish but it quickly became evident that it couldn’t be the case for this year.

Costil started the season with by earning -4 points in his opening two games as the club kept conceding goals. In fact it wouldn’t get easier for him at the beginning of the season as in the next games Bordeaux beat Monaco but conceded with that match finishing 2-1 and the following game ended in a 2-0 loss to Rennes. The next match was a thriller but for Costil it did his points total no favours as Bordeaux drew 3-3 with Nimes. The next match ended in a 3-1 win over Guingamp but again Bordeaux had conceded. It meant that Costil did not earn any positive points until his 7th game of the season. But once he started he couldn’t at least for a while stop.

The great run begun when Bordeaux beat Lille and Costil kept 3 clean sheets in a row to earn 21 points. While he would gain some more consistency it was this run which started at the end of September and ran until the first week of October that ended up being the goal keeper’s best run of the season.

His single worst game points was against Nimes, Saint Etienne and Lyon were in those fixtures he earned -4 points on each occasion.

Costil ended the season much like he had begun it and earned no points in his last 6 games with a total points haul of -10.

This wasn’t a great season for Costil, although in some games he was outstanding, but Bordeaux simply were not strong enough and it showed. Still Costil beat his total from the season before which was 31,and he will be hoping to improve in the points stakes and try to keep a few more clean sheets next season.

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Final nail in PSG’s coffin Neymar fails to return back to France

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The relationship between PSG and Neymar has reached a new low after the Brazilian failed to show up for training on Monday.

PSG’s official statement said: ‘On Monday 8 July Neymar da Silva Santos Junior was due to return to pre-season activities with the Paris Saint-Germain senior squad. Paris Saint-Germain notes that Neymar Jr was not in attendance at the agreed time and place. This was without the club’s prior authorisation. The club regrets this situation and will therefore take appropriate action.’

The obvious problem is that Neymar was never going to be back in France with PSG a day after Brazil won the Copa America in Brazil. True Neymar has been injured for the tournament but it was obvious that he was going to be at the final, Brazil’s first in 12 years and when the team won it is again obvious that he is naturally going to celebrate with the team, to think otherwise means you want to start an excuse for an argument.

Some could argue that why would PSG want Neymar back in training if he is injured. But today in Paris was all about medical check ups, and so in theory Neymar should have been there. But it is clear that there has been a breakdown in communications between club and player. It now looks inevitable that Neymar will be fined for his actions, not that he will care, he will just enjoy to celebrate with Brazil.

At the same time Neymar could have contacted the club and told them in advance of his plans and this is what has clearly irked them. There is an underlying cause of course and that is PSG want to keep their player whilst Neymar wants to leave and return back to Barcelona, could this be part of his chess move to force PSG’s hand so he can move back to La Liga?

This could well be the final nail in the coffin and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Neymar really has played his last game for PSG. The catch in all of this is can Barcelona afford both Griezmann and Neymar, the truth of the matter has to be no, and the deal looks like it will only go through if PSG will take on at least 3 of Barcelona’s players in some kind of player swap deal plus cash.

The summer is hot but in Paris and in Barcelona it just got hotter.