Neymar must prove himself versus Atalanta

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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Neymar v Mbappe who is the best player at PSG?

PSG have in theory the deadliest strike force in the world. Neymar is the Brazilian superstar who scores goals, is a proven winner and has some of the most silkiest skills known to any football player. He is a star, he glitters and remains Brazil’s hope for any international trophies.

Then the champions have Kylian Mbappe, a player who won the World Cup at 19, is a goal scoring machine, looks awesome and fearsome and awesome coming forward, did we say awesome? Well because he is, and the fun part is that he is so young and we still have so many years to praise him. The Frenchman certainly is the real deal.

It’s good that the two superstars get along too- the same can’t be said of Neymar and Edinson Cavani who have had plenty of run ins in the past. But for the most part Neymar and Mbappe have been able to put their egos aside and work together.

It is mind boggling when you think that they are the two biggest world transfers in history- and play for the same team. They have cost PSG nearly 400m euros and let’s not even get started on their wages.

So with the tail of the tape over, do the players come out equal? Is one better than the other? Who has had the best season for example? Who scores more goals and creates the most assists? If PSG had to lose one player which do you think they would prefer to lose and sell?

Since joining PSG in 2017 Neymar has played 82 games in all competitions and has scored 70 goals, that is an incredible return. In the league he has played 52 times and scored 47 goals. Neymar’s consistency has been fantastic. True this past season he was dogged with injuries and a controversial want away move to Barcelona which upset the fans. But each time he came back into the team he ended up being the difference and getting the winning goals and has ultimately helped PSG to an historic treble this season.

Mbappe joined Neymar in the same season although his first one was through a loan. In his debut season he scored 13 goals but it was in his 2nd season where he broke through netting an incredible 33 in the league. In league games he has scored 64 goals from 76 games and overall he has netted 90 goals in just 121 appearances. Mbappe is just 21 and has already won 10 major trophies.

This season Mbappe did play more games than Neymar and scored 18 goals and assisted in 5 goals. Neymar assisted in 6. The stats go to prove that PSG have spent their money wisely, these two are genuinely brilliant players. There really is very little separating them.

A draw is probably the best outcome as to who is the best right now, we have had 3 seasons to figure them out and still there s nothing in it, let’s hope Neymar stays and we get a 4th season. Or perhaps one of them will come to the fore in the Champions League and make all the difference for PSG to pick up their first European Cup later this month. For now PSG should be glad that they have both of these incredible talents in their team at the same time. Fans sure are.

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What now for PSG star Neymar after the fall out of Covid-19 has hit football?

Neymar has returned to Paris for training and played on a football pitch for the first time in 3 months. And seeing images of him brings up the story of what exactly will happen to Neymar post Covid-19?

Had the pandemic never happened many people believe that this was going to be Neymar’s last season with PSG. It was inevitable that after he would rejoin Barcelona. There have been many rumours that the Brazilian is craving to go back to his former job and hook up with the likes of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.

Whilst Neymar has been a success at PSG he has also missed some key games due to injury and there is a feeling of unfinished business in Paris. After all PSG didn’t make Neymar the world’s most expensive player at over 200 million euros just to win a series of Ligue 1 titles? they were doing that well before he joined.

For PSG recruiting Neymar, much like what Juventus have done with Cristiano Ronaldo was supposed to be the key, the final puzzle and the missing link in winning the Champions League. In that PSG have been unlucky given Neymar’s usual injury flare ups have come at a time when they have been playing in the quarter finals of the competition only to be missing him and getting dumped out of it.

This year seems very different. Many expected Borussia Dortmund to get the better of PSG, not so and PSG were able to knock the German team out and reach the last 8 of the competition. Now all eyes are on PSG, and yet that is when the Covid-19 really struck.

The good news is that football is back and the Champions League will resume in Lisbon, with all games played there in August. And what about PSG and Neymar, they have had lots of time off, can Neymar provide PSG with what they really want and need? What a send off it would be, if Neymar is to leave the club. But no win and he might find himself playing another season in Paris. Win and it is possible to think that PSG and Barcelona could come to an arrangement.

Forget about Barcelona breaking the bank to get him, that won’t happen. And football will be financially affected for years. True big money purchases are still going to be made between the big clubs, but we can and should expect transfers to drop significantly.

Right now Neymar seems a happy person and in a happy frame of mind, that couldn’t be said at the beginning of the season. What we do know is that the next two months will be dedicated to PSG. He has two cup finals to play and then the return of the Champions League- will the fire still be in his eyes?

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Could Icardi’s permanent PSG move mean Neymar is leaving for Barcelona?

It was to no one’s surprise that French league champions PSG decided to sign Mauro Icardi on a permanent deal in the last few days. Icardi will now join PSG as a full time member after the transfer went through for €50m. That looks like a bargain for PSG who before the Covid-19 pandemic were looking at €70m to get the players services.

Icardi has signed up to play in Paris until 2024 and the deal was a no-brainer given how the Italian had fared over the course of this season when brought in on loan. Icardi slipped right into the team and with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe missing chunks of games through injury Icardi stepped up and never looked out of the place in the team. In the league alone Icardi scored 12 goals from just 20 games and overall in all competitions he was able to find the back of the net 20 times from just 31 games. At only 27 Icardi has the best years of his football career ahead of him, and whilst this will be a loss to Inter it is a huge gain for PSG.

Though with the pandemic and football clubs losing millions over the last few months financially the deal to let Icardi leave the San Siro does make sense, and it is probably one that the Inter fans will be able to accept and understand.

As for PSG they now have 3 full time golden strikers in Icardi, Neymar and Mbappe but with them agreeing to take on Icardi full time the old story of Neymar leaving will surely rise once again. It does feel that Neymar’s return to Barcelona has been on the cards the very minute he signed a surprise deal at the time to join PSG which of course broke the transfer record and is still the highest at a reported €220m. That record looks like it will remain intact for some time after the pandemic has affected everyone from a financial standpoint.

Money is certainly a problem right now in football and huge transfers just don’t seem feasible. So if Neymar is to rejoin Barcelona one could suspect a few players swaps, a small ‘down payment’ fee and perhaps an initial loan deal back. At the end of the day PSG has the squad to win the next few French league titles and certainly next season will be the big odds on favourites, so in all honesty do they really need Neymar, who could well be dragging his feet next season?

Neymar has been brilliant for the club so far though has come up a little short in helping them in Europe and keeps getting niggling injuries. His departure would feel a little hollow looking at his achievements, but he has scored many goals and inspired so many extra points for the club, despite some of the circus that has surrounded him little can doubt his natural ability.

Whilst Ligue 1 ended early the Champions League has not and that is set to resume in August with PSG still in the competition- could Neymar take the club all the way and end his career at PSG on a high? That will be the question on everyone’s minds in Paris as it looks more and more inevitable that he will leave the club sooner rather than later.

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French Ligue 1 season is cancelled- what happens next?

The French Ligue 1 season has been ended by French Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe.

The announcement means an immediate end to the season due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however the story doesn’t end there. The problem now for the French Football Federation is what to do next? There seems to be three choices which would be to declare the season null and void, to end the league as how it stands now or to count wins only and revise the table.

As far as winning the league there was only going to be one winner this season in PSG. The club are 12 points clear and with a game in hand over 2nd place with 11 games to play. It’s obvious that they were never going to get caught and the club will feel harshly done by if they are not awarded the league title.

Marseille could be left frustrated if the season is null and void. The club have had their best season in  years at last showing good consistency and are in 2nd place with 56 points and 6 points clear of 3rd. Indeed they are 7 points clear of not playing in the Champions League next season and they did look almost assured of being part of Europe’s elite club for the season after, now that is in the balance.

Rennes had won 15 games this season to put them in 3rd place and as it stands they would be entered into the qualifying stages for the Champions League. Though in 4th place is Lille who are just 1 point behind Rennes and they would feel very hard done by considering they had 10 games to make up 1 point.

Historical club Reims were in search of a long over due return to Europe too as they looked on course for a Europa League finish.

As for relegation Toulouse would certainly benefit with a null and void decision given that they have amassed only 13 points this season and are 10 points behind 19th placed Amiens- they were certainties to go down. Amiens were struggling too on 23 points and had fallen 7 points behind from safety.

The tricky part of the league if is declared by current standings is that Nimes are in 18th place with 27 points. Finishing here isn’t relegation but usually means a play-off with the team finishing in 3rd place in Ligue 2. So when would that play-off game take place?

Over the next few days there are many things to discuss, and what would be the fairest option should be put on the table. Also it is worth noting that Ligue 2 has also been stopped, simply put there will be no professional football in France until September.

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Why Neymar returning to Barcelona is a no-go

Not long now until the transfer merry-go-round spins in earnest.

In fact, the rumours are already in full swing and there’s still the best part of three months until the window opens again!

As clubs across Europe go looking for bargains, there are one or two that need to make a statement signing to send shivers down their opponent’s spines. Continue reading

PSG win 7 goal thriller as Rennes move closer to Marseille

If there is one thing that seems to be certain with PSG it is entertainment and following their 4-4 draw at Amiens last weekend the club scored another 4 goals, except they won this time beating Bordeaux 4-3.

No one really expected such a fight from Bordeaux who showed a lot of character in not just coming to Paris in order to defend. PSG had gone a goal down but veteran striker Edinson Cavani soon equalised. The star of the team this past weekend though was Marquinhos who can sometimes be seen as the forgotten man, but he scored two goals and Kylian Mbappe got the winner in a fantastic energised game.

But there would still be a negative to take from the match as Neymar received two yellow cards and was sent off in the very final moments of the game and now he will miss the trip to Dijon. However PSG have pulled clear at the top by 13 points, and that was helped as Marseille lost 3-1 at home to Nantes. It was the clubs first defeat in over 15 games and it wasn’t a good performance which was capped off by Alvaro scoring an own goal.

Marseille losing meant that Rennes took full advantage and their 2-1 home win over Nimes took them to within 8 points of 2nd place. M’Baye Niang scored both of Rennes’ goals as his good form continues. Rennes needed to win because Lille also picked up 3 points in 4th place with their victory over Toulouse. Toulouse who are rock bottom were never given a chance and this was a match where Lille ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. Loic Remy scored a brace and the club have won 4 from their last five games, as they chase down 3rd position.

Monaco’s winning run came to an end but at least they didn’t lose and instead they drew 1-1 away to Dijon. Lyon won their first game in almost a month by beating Metz away 2-0 and that was seen as a very good result for the club as Metz had picked up in form lately even in the bottom half of the table. But the club are still behind Strasbourg who were involved a dour 0-0 draw against Amiens- the same Amiens who had put four goals past PSG, but that is football.

Reims have lost just one match in their past five and they got a decent 1-1 draw away to Saint Etienne and are in 8th place. They were losing 1-0 and heading for defeat until they were rewarded a penalty in the final minute which Boulaye Dia scored for the away side.

Reims European hopes are still alive even though they are drawing too many games and the reason for that is how close the league still is with only 12 games left to play. The club are in 8th and yet are only seven points behind 3rd place, so there really is all to play for.

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Do Mestre’s Neymar revelations spell the end for Dembele?

The last thing that Barcelona needed was confirmation that Ousmane Dembele was ruled out of action for the next six months.

On the cusp of a return after being out since before Christmas, the Frenchman broke down once again, and this time the injury has turned out to be worse than first feared.

Not only will he miss the rest of this season, but also the European Championship and 2020/21′s pre-season. Continue reading

Rennes make a bid for the Champions League as Neymar and Mbappe overshadow PSG win

Rennes made big strides to try and qualify for the Champions League as they beat Nantes in a five goal thriller winning 3-2 at home. Raphinha was the hero for the home side grabbing two goals. Rennes would be a major surprise to make the Champions League but that is what finishing 2nd gives teams and they edged up each week to Marseille. The gap is just three points.

And the gap is three points because Marseille have imploded, or rather look like they are. The club have not lost for 10 matches but that makes no odds when you are drawing games and not winning them and they drew yet again on Sunday night, this time in disappointing fashion away to Bordeaux with the game ending 0-0.

That draw effectively ended Marseille’s already slim hopes of winning the league. Only a few weeks ago they had shortened the gap to league leaders PSG by 5 points but now that stands at 12 and it looks very difficult to think that PSG will drop so many points and Marseille will go on such a consistent run.

As for PSG, not many people would think that they had a fantastic result at the weekend when they overpowered Montpellier to win 5-0. Pablo Sarabia who has been in good form for the club opened the scoring.  It was interesting to see that from the five goals scored only one was scored by either Kylian Mbappe or Neymar. And it was Mbappe who got it, with Neymar assisting. All should have been well then with such an emphatic victory but it wasn’t.

The referee booked Neymar after an exchange of words that saw the Brazilian at half time question the officials, to which they replied, ”speak French”. Then there was Mbappe who realised that he needed one more goal to be joint top goalscorer in Ligue 1 with Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder. But PSG coach Thomas Tuchel instead took the player off for Mauro Icardi and Mbappe was furious with his coach. A heated exchange of words could be clearly seen and Mbappe sat in the dug out looking very gloom. Now the inevitable has happened and the media have linked Mbappe with a move away from Paris. One has to feel for Tuchel, he doesn’t always get it right but at the same time he has quite a few egos in the dressing room.

Lille got an important victory away to Strasbourg by winning 2-1. It was only Lille’s 2nd away victory of the season and came courtesy of a Victor Omishen penalty, the player has been in great form lately and that win took the club into 4th place and six points behind 3rd placed Rennes.

Lyon just can’t find enough consistency and after going their last 3 games unbeaten they came unstuck away to Nice, who have not lost a game in Ligue 1 for two months. To make matters worse for Lyon Fernando Marcal was sent off early on. Though the hosts also lost a player they just shaded the game. To be fair to Lyon with 7 strikes on goal they were hardly poor, but they will have to pick themselves up once more. The objective this season has to be a European finish and despite this fresh set back they are just two points from their target.

Reims propped up the table again and into 7th place after they surprised Angers and won 4-1 at Stade Raymond Kopa. Reims had been behind and the surprise was not just the comeback but the fact that they scored so many goals. Prior to the game the club had scored just 17 all season. What was also interesting is that Reims had just 4 shots on target and everyone of them ended in a goal.

With Nice beating Lyon as mentioned above they have moved into 8th and that has cost Nantes who lost to Rennes a top 8 place.

There are midweek games in Ligue 1 this weekend and Champions League and Europa League spots will be up once again for grabs.

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Kylian Mbappe’s row with PSG coach Thomas Tuchel could highlight a move away

Even though PSG beat Montpellier 5-0 in front of their home fans controversy was never that far away. Both Neymar and Mbappe were involved in skirmishes. Neymar’s story has been covered on here but involved getting booked. But Mbappe’s was much closer to home.

The star striker had scored in the game meaning that he now has 14 goals and is in 2nd place in the goalscorers chart one behind Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder, and perhaps that is why he flared up when PSG coach Thomas Tuchel ordered him to come off.

He was substituted for Mauro Icardi and Mbappe did not go quietly. Clearly it could be seen on the touchline his confrontation with Tuchel. Mbappe was furious as Tuchel tried to cradle his hands on his head and calm the player down.

In that moment it was evident that despite his brilliance as a team player and natural goalscorer and already of course a World Cup winner with France to see the little boy in him. He will probably look back on incidents like this and laugh them off, or at least he should do. Tuchel obviously took off Mbappe as PSG were 4-0 up at the time with just over 20 minutes remaining, why not bring on Icardi?

After the game Tuchel said: ”I’m the coach someone has to decide who goes off and who comes on it’s me. He is very intelligent, he knows what he is doing. He doesn’t like going off, nobody likes going off These are not good images, but we are not the only club that has to deal with this sort of thing. It’s not good, because it opens up subjects that go against the team’s state of mind. Too bad.  I explained to him why we did this, and it will stay that way. I will always decide the technical aspects. We don’t play tennis, we play soccer and we have to respect everyone.”

Tuchel added that the argument is not over. “I will make a decision, We have training at 11am, we will talk about the match with the group. I’ll see if I talk about this or if I do it individually. It will depend on my night’s sleep too.”

Speculation has now grown that Mbappe could want out of the club. He has always been linked to Real Madrid but the club would have to find at least 250m euros to make this happen, or perhaps a few player swaps could help.

Tuchel though seems blameless in the whole debate, he acted as a coach and did nothing wrong. Mbappe is an amazing player but sadly he has shown to throw his toys out of his pram on a few occasions in the past when he hasn’t got his own way. PSG and Tuchel will hope that this story can blow over.

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