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.

 

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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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.

 

 

If Messi does leave Barcelona it could take 10 years for them to recover

The ownership power struggle at Barcelona has been in decline for the past 3 years. It is why since 2017 Lionel Messi has had it in his contract that in principle at the end of each season he could leave for free.

That was a threat from Messi- a player considered by many as one of the greatest players to have graced the game. It was supposed to be a warning sign to the Barcelona board to step up and manage the team properly. Since then despite being dominant in Spain,

Barcelona have failed at the highest level- the Champions League. Each of the last 3 years they have been in good positions to win it. Think of the collapse against Roma and Liverpool. Messi has not won the Champions League since 2015 when he was 28. His prime years are disappearing and he may not win it again.

This week it was still a shock to find out that Messi had handed in a transfer request to a club where he was supposed to spend the rest of his career with. But in all honesty it wasn’t a surprise.

Barcelona have been run into the ground over the past few seasons. Some of the board have quit and Josep Maria Bartomeu has made some uneasy decisions. He has been criticised for the way Neymar joined PSG, something that Messi seemingly has never forgiven him for. Then there is the way that the Neymar money was ‘wasted’. Players such as Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho cost £250m between them, and both have been poor.

Messi expected Barca to replace the departing Neymar with other star players yet instead the club got stuck with one player who is injury prone and another who was moved on loan to Bayern Munich. Messi probably assumed that at least from the massive fee earned from selling Neymar, Barca would be able to sign at least two quality players and perhaps two decent players as a bonus. If you are a fan of casinos, then do not forget to check exclusive Casino bonuses in Canada.

On the other side under Bartomeu the club have won 13 trophies in just 5 seasons, that includes 4 La Liga titles and a Champions League. But the problems have really been growing for the past 3 seasons especially. The hiring of Quique Setien, a good man but out of his depth at Barca was met with disdain, the 8-2 bashing that Barca took against Bayern Munich with no plan a let alone a plan b summarised Setien’s season, one where Barcelona ended trophy less.

He was eventually sacked and Ronald Koeman was named the new coach. The same Koeman whose career has been steadily declining in club football. True he was doing well with the Netherlands and got them to the UEFA Nations League final, and they were set to participate in next summers Euro’s. Ironically it looked like Koeman had found his stage with the national team. Club football is different, and if you fail with Everton you may be out of your depth with the egos at Barcelona. It feels as if Koeman was given the job to soothe the Barca fans, after all he is fondly remembered here for his time at the club in the early to mid 1990s.

Luis Suarez has been reportedly told that he won’t play for Barcelona again, this has further angered Messi, although that could be a good decision for the club, Suarez clearly has lost some of his devastating pace.

Things are changing at the club and it feels like a new era is around the corner. Even for Bartomeu that could be true given that the new elections are next March, and there will be a new president at the club.

So is Messi playing a bluff? Did he hand in the request for Bartomeu to walk now? After all which president of the club wants to be known as the guy who sunk the ship so low that Messi begged to leave.  As it stands Bartomeu is going nowhere and neither is Messi. The problem is that Messi believed he could leave for free but that expired at the end of May. However Messi’s argument and it is a good one is that his get out of the club free expires at the end of each season. Because of the pandemic the curtain on the season last only came down 4 days ago. Maybe just maybe he has a point.

This is going to be high drama either way you look at it and most transfer windows in Europe will be open until the beginning of October, so this could run and run. Barca want 700m euros for a 33 year old, it doesn’t matter if Messi was 10x better than he is and aged 18 that wouldn’t be happening.

There are many consequences here and even though the club has handled affairs over the past few seasons poorly it also does not seem fair on them with La Liga starting soon that Messi would deliver this bombshell and want to leave for free. There are remember rumours circulating that Messi has a say on who will join the club and who will play with him. Did he have too much power himself? Is he really full of anger because the club could not prize back Neymar from PSG? One wonders if both parties and not just the club are at fault on this one.

If Messi leaves and with so much change revolving around the club it would surely be an end of an era for the Catalan giants. One could rule out trophies for next season especially against a well-oiled machine like Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will want to bounce back from an indifferent season also.

One is reminded of the early 2000s when Barcelona were genuinely suffering after Rivaldo left the club and they were struggling in La Liga. It took the club 5 years to bounce back then.But this is Messi who can guide a club, just look at this season, they won nothing and yet there he was again, aged 33 and still top goalscorer in Spain with ease.

Messi’s influence should not be underestimated and yet like so many other world class players before him it looks increasingly like he is going to leave the club by the back door. He will be remembered as one of the greats and Barcelona simply won’t be the same without him on that field. It really could take the club some time to recover perhaps 10 years before they get a great team together once again who can also gel.

What you have to remember with Barcelona is that finishing 2nd to them is like finishing 10th, what does it matter if you don’t win trophies and if a club like them go 3 seasons without winning the league it really is a crisis. If Messi leaves and the structure of the club falls apart because of it the recovery time could be a long way off.

As for Messi the favourites to sign him are Manchester City. That would make sense, with Pep Guardiola there and the way the club play such an attacking style and of course Messi could fit right into the vacant David Silva role. They look the favourites to get him or perhaps PSG who at least put their marker down this year by reaching the Champions League final.

Let the drama unfold.

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How good is Neymar when it matters most?

We all know Neymar is an amazing football player, but is he one of the greats?

Is he really good enough to be mentioned as one of the best next to Messi and Ronaldo?

Another season is on the books and the highest paid player in history once again failed to deliver the decisive blow when it mattered the most for his squad – PSG lost to Bayern in the Champions League final last Sunday and their star player had one of his worst performances of the season.

The Brazilian striker failed to register a key pass and completed only four dribbles, all in areas that didn’t concern Bayern. After his great performances against Atalanta and Leipzig it was expected that the 28-year old would finally show his tremendous talent on the biggest stage but he was stopped in his tracks by Joshua Kimmich and co. leaving his PSG squad without the trophy they spent a small fortune chasing.

And this wasn’t the first time Neymar didn’t meet the expectations.

After four seasons with Barcelona and winning his only Champions league trophy, Neymar wanted to get out of a team built around Lionel Messi, and show everyone that he is ready to lead a squad to the glory on his own.

He moved to PSG for a record €222 million and showed his magic in the French Ligue 1. He scored 47 goals in 52 matches which seem impressive but the fans from the French capital have seen top performances domestically before, notably from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. The only way Neymar could meet the expectations and make the investment of the Qatari owners worthwhile was by bringing the Champions League trophy, something he hasn’t managed to do in the past three seasons.

In his first season with the PSG, they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Real Madrid. He didn’t score on Santiago Bernabeu and he didn’t play in the return match due to an injury. He was solid in the group stage the following year, but missed the clash against Manchester United in the first elimination round due to leg pain.

The argument that he was not made for big games carries even more weight when his performance for Brazilian national team is taken into consideration. As is the case for his club when he is the main-man against Granada or Bilbao, Bordeaux or Montpellier, so it is the case in the national team against Ecuador or Bolivia, but when his whole nation expects the glory, he has not been able to perform. At the 2014 World Cup, he played well only in the group, after which he got injured. Two years ago, he was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Belgium.

At the Copa America in 2011, Neymar and Brazil were stopped in the quarterfinals against Paraguay and the same happened four years later. To make the paradox bigger, Brazil became the champion of South America last summer, but Neymar didn’t even participate in the competition due to a ligament damage injury.

Unlike his fellow countrymen Pele or Ronaldo, who brought joy to Brazil with goals in the World Cup finals or the greatest players in his time, Messi and Ronaldo who always deliver, Neymar still hasn’t got even close to them and the only way to do so is to score when it really matters.

PSG’s front three fail to influence final

Kingsley Coman haunted his former side as the Bayern Munich forward scored the only goal of the game to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League final on Sunday.

The 24-year-old was a product of the Parisians’ youth system, making three league appearances before joining Juventus on a free transfer in 2014.

Coman headed home Joshua Kimmich’s cross from close range on the hour following a nice move by the German champions. The French international had terrorised Thilo Kehrer all evening. The German right-back was arguably started because of the disruption, allowing Thomas Meunier to leave to Borussia Dortmund on 1 July.

There wasn’t much between the two teams at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon and but for Manuel Neuer putting in another superb performance between the posts, on another day, PSG may have lifted the trophy.

However, Thomas Tuchel’s side came up short. Particularly the front three. Kylian Mbappe had a couple of shots blocked and Neymar had a good effort well saved by the German number one in the first half.

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Bayern Munich win 6th Champions League title after they beat PSG

Bayern Munich have joined Liverpool to win their 6th Champions League title after they beat PSG 1-0 in Lisbon.

The final was the opposite of what many thought it would be; full of goals and excitement. After all there were arguably 3 of the deadliest strikers in Europe on the pitch in the form of PSG’s Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski. All three threatened to score, but none of them did.

In truth the final was a turgid affair which was riddled with mistakes, unforgivable for the quality that was on the pitch. Time and again both sets of teams made the wrong choices of pass and easily lost possession, that can happen but when it is under no pressure from the opposing team it feels like fatal viewing.

Bayern played much like they did against Lyon in the semi-finals, tactically aware as the game went on but not forcing themselves on the game. They are a team who are the best in Europe but under Hansi Flick also a team that do not feel comfortable in the game until they get that first goal. That is why it was unfortunate that PSG was not able to open the scoring and through Neymar they really should have. Manuel Neuer made a superb double save instead, in a rare golden chance for the French champions.

For much of the game Lewandowski traded goal mouth chances with falling over- some fouls looked genuine, others did not and he was not the only one feigning injury, or at least going over too easy. Neymar regrettably did the same towards the end of the game in which all of those ingredients that have made a passing fan loathe his style of play at times were highlighted. This was unfortunate given that every football fan was watching him on his stage as opposed to Ligue 1 football.

It was still an awesome sight at times to see both Neymar and Mbappe running at the Bayern defence. That’s £400m worth of talent there- a tornado about to engulf the Bayern defence, but we only ended up seeing this genuine attacking play on three occasions. Mostly in the first half.

On the hour mark Bayern got their goal and the one that would end up winning it. No Lewandowski heroics, though he had hit the post earlier in the game after a trademark spin, no Thomas Muller searing away with that smile either. Instead it was Kingsley Coman a PSG fan since a boy and the youngster prized away from Juventus a few seasons ago. Bayern coach Hansi Flick had mostly used Coman as a super sub, this time he gave him the nod to start the final. It paid dividends. A good forceful header was enough to beat Kaylor Navas and the game dearly needed a goal.

At that and with 30 minutes to go one would have thought PSG would have been relentless, instead it was Bayern on the attack looking to kill the game with a 2nd goal. Indeed Bayern for the large majority of the remaining time contained the threat of PSG. By this time Neymar, the golden boy looked tired. Mbappe the only golden boy did make some daring runs into the Bayern area with his quick feet and looked like he had been fouled for a penalty late on. The problem was that the referee waved it on given that Mbappe had made a meal of earlier fouls.

Angel Di Maria had moments of brilliance one involved a beautiful unseen pass, that reminded older football fans of Fernando Redondo’s exquisite move for Real Madrid to open up Manchester United 20 years ago. That move ended in a goal unlike Di Maria’s.

It was hard to take for PSG, Mbappe’s first half miss in front of goal when he appeared to pass back to Neuer rather than shoot isn’t easy to swallow for anyone considering the money he cost the club. But that shot summed up PSG’s evening, they were turgid and hollow.

Bayern in the end did enough and some of their defensive work as the game went on was superb. It was hardly a vintage display by the all conquering champions and yet it was something to be afraid of. Here we have a Bayern Munich side who can turn it on with goals and devastating attacking play, just ask Barcelona. But we also have a team that appear to have a plan b, one that can change the pace of the game to suit themselves and retreat with confidence when they have too.

It was inevitable at the final whistle that Neymar burst into tears as his dream of winning the competition with PSG was left in tatters. But Neymar will shine once more on his stage. There was perhaps more sympathy awarded to Thomas Tuchel the PSG coach who looked in genuine pain on his crutches following his foot injury a few weeks before, pain and disappointment is always going to be a toxic mix.

Attentions will turn to who will pick up the world player of the year in a season that has been strange to say the least. One could do little wrong in surely handing that trophy over to Manuel Neuer.

 

PSG’s new maturity fires them to their first ever Champions League final

It’s finally happened after 8 years of trying PSG have reached their first ever Champions League final after they beat RB Leipzig 3-0.

PSG were beginning to be known as the team who kept bottling it when it really mattered. Over the years the French champions had been dumped out of the competition by the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, two teams that they want to aspire to be like. There was the infamous Barcelona defeat where they were 4-1 up from the 1st leg and still got knocked out.

But the dream has been set in stone now. The team have had to beat Borussia Dortmund, Atalanta and RB Leipzig to reach the final and some cynical eyes will look at that and say that they haven’t really been tested. And yet with the changing shift of European football they have.

Dortmund remained a threat in the German Bunsdesliga to Bayern Munich for much of the season, it was only Bayern’s superb form since the restart that gave Dortmund little chance in the end.

Atalanta have had their best season in a generation, even at one time making a challenge for Serie A. They didn’t quite have enough in the tanks but the club have been very good now for the past 2 seasons and their attacking force at times this season has been superb. The Italians also took the lead over PSG before a stunning last minute comeback by the Ligue 1 side.

Finally RB Leipzig have really grown into a quality side and their future looks bright. Never to be taken lightly although their semi final game with PSG just looked like it came too early for them, they were caught out and then add to that the quality within the PSG team and it was lights out. Sadly for Leipzig it was a game to forget and it ended up passing them by.

But there is a new found maturity for this PSG side who have often been called out for being too individualistic. Yes the quality of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe is there to be seen- but at the end of the day these players have not exactly dominated the knockout games of their Champions League encounters. Instead others have risen up like Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria who is arguably the most consistent signing that PSG have ever made.

Win or lose in the final this has to be seen as a building block for the club for bigger things. It is interesting that it took Chelsea about 8 years to win the competition after they were taken over and injected with money. For Manchester City they seem to be behind schedule in that respect.

Have PSG arrived at their destination? We will know soon enough when the Champions League final takes place on August 23rd.

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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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