PSG fans must back up Neymar now after 2 goals in 2 games as PSG beat Lyon

Neymar the magician who is Brazilian did it again, didn’t he? After a summer where he has spoken negatively about his club PSG and wanting a move away to Barcelona, he has come straight back into the team and earned the club 6 points straight off the bat.

He is turning into an enigma someone that is hard to figure out. It is easy to throw negative criticism at him too. His lack of passion and loyalty seemed fairly evident, like a baby throwing out his toys he wanted out of one of the most successful teams in world football to play for another. His feelings were clear. One could think of the endless run of kids in and around Paris dreaming to play for the club and the youths who have been rejected at the final hurdle- the commitment, the passion and the loyalty. And then look over at Neymar who was playing with his career at the club and seemingly didn’t care.

But what Neymar has, which the other hopefuls don’t is sheer and utter quality. It is why he can want a move away with his career feeling like it is coming to an end in France and then come back and produce wonder goals, each time saving his club and winning the game.

A few weeks ago he scored an outrageous bicycle kick in injury time against Strasbourg with the tie at 0-0. And then this past weekend PSG travelled to a direct league rival in Lyon. Again the score tied at 0-0 before Neymar went on a mazy solo run and scored with the winner with just two minutes remaining.

Neymar is an unbelievable player and in a generation where Brazilian football has stalled on produced attacking greats, he is one of them and perhaps the only genuine one. The heir apparent to the likes of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho before him.

The hardcore PSG fans known as the ultras put out a statement upon Neymar’s return that they won’t easily forgive the player, and to be fair it did seem understandable. But after these 2 games, that’s 2 return goals and more than that it is clear without the player that they would have drawn those games and had 4 less points as a result. That would mean PSG would have 11 points now and Angers would in fact be top, with PSG resigned down to 4th place and that is the reality of the situation.

It might be hard for the ultra fans or even regular PSG fans to admit this, but the team can’t afford to be without Neymar, he is simply that good a player.

 

 

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.

 

 

Ligue 1: Week 37: Player Picks for the Weekend

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Most of the major European leagues have finished but in France Ligue 1 doesn’t end until the end of the month. PSG are champions of course and Lille and Lyon look like they will get Champions League places. Relegation is still up for grabs though, could Caen really survive and take down the 2017 champions Monaco, it looks more likely as the season draws to a close.

Below we pick in a 4-4-2 formation the players that could be most likely to shine and earn you points this weekend.

Goalkeeper: Stephane Ruffier- Saint Etienne

Stephane Ruffier has been superb in goal for Saint Etienne and the club have conceded just 3 in the last 6 games. They will be at home to Nice and this is the clubs last roll of the dice. Ruffier can be added to your team for 7.5m.

Defender: Marcelo- Lyon

Marcelo has played 31 times and is ranked as the best Lyon defender this season. Lyon are at home and really need the win. They will have a tough game against Caen who are fighting to stay up, but Lyon possess more quality and Marcelo is just 8m.

Defender: Dani Alves

Dani Alves for PSG could have a good game, this is PSG’s last home match of the season and it may well be Alves last game for PSG given his age. He will want to put in a good performance and they are playing Dijon who are really struggling, Alves could well earn some valuable points here.

Defender: Hilton- Montpellier

Hilton has played almost the whole season and Montpellier kept a clean sheet in their last game as they try and finish the season on a high. They are playing Nantes at the weekend but they are at home and every chance to get a good result, he is 6m.

Defender: Lamine Kone- Strasbourg

Kone has a had a decent season and has become a staple figure in the side. It is true that Strasbourg have just 1 clean sheet in their past five games however the club will feel confident that they can do so when they entertain Rennes at the weekend and Kone should be looked into.

Midfielder: Remi Oudin- Reims

Oudin is valued at 10m but he has had a great season for Reims even if the club are going through a difficult spell. He has assisted in 3 goals and scored a further 10 and with the season almost near the end he might be worth sticking in your team.

Midfielder: Arber Zeneli- Reims

Sticking with Reims, is Zeneli another player that can switch it on and create chances. Reims have not been in good form but have the quality to finish the season well and they will be playing Bordeaux who have been very poor this season so their luck could change. Zeneli can be yours for just 6.5m.

Midfielder: Ismaila Sarr-Rennes

Sarr has been in good form for Rennes as they take on Strasbourg away at the weekend it what could end up being quite a close game. Sarr has scored 7 goals and also assisted 6 times and he is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Wylan Cyprien- Nice

Cyprien has so much quality but what tends to happen is that he goes through periods of the season quiet. The question is can he finish it on form and with a bang? He can be brought into your team for a bargain 5m and Nice will be playing Saint Etienne at the weekend.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe- Lille

Nicolas Pepe has been one of the best players in Ligue 1. This is Lille’s last game at home to secure 2nd place and it all looks set for Pepe to add to his goals this season. He should be taken on.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- PSG

This could be Cavani’s final game in Paris as he is set to leave the club. He has scored so many goals for the club. Kylian Mbappe is struggling with fitness and Neymar is banned from this game, so this should be Cavani’s time to step up and score a few goals. He is 13m which is expensive but at the same time the players will be creating many chances for him, that’s for sure.

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Daniel Bravo, BeIN Sports & the forgiveness of Strasbourg’s Nuno da Costa

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It was a quiet week in France’s Ligue 1 as PSG retained the league title, but it is important not to forget the controversies involving racist chanting and racist ignorance which has engulfed Ligue 1 and indeed the rest of European football this season.

Of course racism has never gone away, neither in society as a whole or in the confines of a football stadium, it has simply turned the cheek and then waited for its moment to strike. We had Prince Gouano last week having to stop the Amiens-Dijon game because of racist slurs from a fan. One story that hardly got told was not of a fan or a football player being racist but of a TV commentator.

That commentator, Daniel Bravo was working for BeIN Sports one of the top Satellite pay per view TV stations in Europe if not the world and the game he was commentating on was Strasbourg’s 4-0 win over Reims. This is a story that should be brought to light given that it wasn’t the first time around.

The player attacked was Nuno da Costa who scored for Strasbourg, the player born in Cape Verde had scored his 8th goal of the season, but that fact didn’t matter to commentator Bravo. When da Costa scored he said, “not bad for a black guy.” Those six words should have ended his television career but it was da Costa himself who came to the pundits rescue.

Da Costa simply defended the former French international defender and put his comments down to a slip of the tongue and that perhaps he works too much given that this match was a midweek one. The Strasbourg player in one sense should be praised because he has tackled an obvious racist comment head on, but at the same time he has tried to diffuse the matter. Without saying it, da Costa is asking for him not to make a second slip of the tongue.

From an outside point of view though, it feels as if Bravo has got away with it- just imagine an English commentator doing the same thing with Sky Sports for example- could you imagine in your wildest dreams that person in a job 24 hours later?

There has to be a zero tolerance attitude to racism full stop- and it doesn’t feel that the issue was tackled correctly. If a fan can get a lifetime ban for being racist in the stands, how is it that pundits in France have immunity?

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Choupo-Moting’s stunning miss denies PSG the league title

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PSG lost their 100% record at home when they could only draw 2-2 with Strasbourg at the weekend. But that is just one story- the other is Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s extraordinary miss when the match was poised at 1-1, which almost certainly would have sealed the game in their favour and given them the league title. Now PSG will have to wait.

Strasbourg have frustrated PSG in the past- a few seasons ago Strasbourg ended PSG’s unbeaten run in the league and now the new Coupe de la Ligue winners have ended PSG’s dominance at home by becoming the first team this season to take points from them in Paris. Before the game PSG had played 15 and won 15, a stunning record.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel was still without Brazilian Neymar which was expected what wasn’t expected was that he did not start star player Kylian Mbappe, instead choosing to rest the player from the bench. That meant a rare start for once Stoke City striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Everything was going so well for the player who opened the scoring in the 13 minute with a neat finish. At that point PSG were simply expected to stroll to victory, but Strasbourg who have been in superb form after winning the Coupe de la Ligue and then beating Reims 4-0 had not read the script.

Da Costa equalised on 26 minutes and then shock of shocks Goncalves put Strasbourg ahead just before half time. But before Goncalves got the goal to put the visitors ahead, PSG somehow were not ahead themselves.

Choupo-Moting found himself virtually on the opposition goal line, the ball crossed in perfectly and with good weight and pass he simply had to notch the ball in with the deftest of touches. Instead he somehow kicked the ball in a way that ended up looking like a nonchalant brilliant piece of defending- and fans in the stadium sat their stunned. Mbappe on the bench could not believe what he was seeing, and the opportunity was gone. In England commentators reporting on the game suggested it was the greatest miss of all time- that’s for another day and another list but it was certainly up there with the biggest controversial moments stemming from such a clear cut chance in front of goal- a real head scratcher.

Choupo-Moting has played 18 times for PSG and scored 3 goals and it is unfortunate for him that the night turned sour given that he had opened the scoring. It was of course not a reflection on the player and was just a shocking miss, a freak and it happens.

The problem for the 30 year old is such misses for the biggest clubs can be the downfall moment and it would be a surprise if Choupo-Moting is a PSG player next season given his age and the fact that he joined the club this season on a free transfer anyway. Football has shown us on countless occasions how ruthless the big clubs can be when needed.

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Strasbourg and Guingamp the two unlikely giant killers to play in Coupe de la Ligue final

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Strasbourg and Guingamp will contest the final of the Coupe de la Ligue on Saturday and nobody could have seen this as a final match up for France’s secondary cup competition.

Strasbourg will start as slight favourites and they did punch above their weight earlier in the Ligue 1 season, but have faltered of late and slipped down to 10th place. Indeed any chances of finishing in a European spot seem distant so winning the Coupe de la Ligue looks to be the only realistic chance for the club of qualifying for the Europa League. They last won a major trophy in 2005 and the famed club will be looking to secure their 4th title overall.

One man that will be looking on will be former Arsenal manager and great Arsene Wenger, who not only was born in Strasbourg but also played for the club and there is no doubt who Wenger will be supporting come the weekend. Wenger will be in official attendance for the game to be played in Lille.

Strasbourg have done brilliantly well to get to the final where they have had to knock out the likes of Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux, that is no mean feat and whilst the club have had an average season to say the least they have really shone in this competition.

But if you think Strasbourg have got to this final against all odds, think again when we look at their opponents Guingamp. The club have been extremely poor this season in Ligue 1 where they have been rock bottom for the majority of the season. Resigned to relegation months back they are currently in the best form of their season and have decided to fight. They have climbed back up to 18th place but are still 7 points from safety and the next few weeks will be crucial for their chances of playing In Ligue 1 next season.

Guingamp have had to climb their own personal Mount Everest and incredibly went to Paris in the quarter finals and knocked out PSG in one of the biggest shocks of the season. Whilst sceptics could feel that PSG were not taking the competition seriously this is completely far from the truth as the Parc des Princes crowd were left in stunned silence.

Guingamp followed that up with a penalty shoot out win against a rejuvenated Monaco under Leonardo Jardim’s return and the rest as they say is history. In truth both clubs come into the final as winners and this should be celebrated. It is refreshing not to see the likes of PSG, Marseille or Lyon here.

Because of this the final remains wide open and we should see a very entertaining game of football where one clubs season could go from being average to great.

Ligue 1 Player of the Week – Matthieu Debuchy (St-Etienne)

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St-Etienne’s recent improved form faced a test on Saturday when they travelled to struggling Strasbourg. The visitors had won two of the previous three and haven’t been beaten in a while – their hosts, meanwhile, were on a run of games without a win and only six points above the relegation zone.

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Exploits of Yaya Sanogo earn him Ligue 1 Player of the Week

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This week’s Ligue 1 player of the week accolade goes to Toulouse centre forward Yaya Sanogo, whose brace of the weekend indicated that he could be on the brink of getting past his turbulent spell on the books at Arsenal.

The award is well-deserved, with the striker playing a critical role in his side’s break-neck 2-2 draw at Stadium Municipal, his exploits taking the home side to within a hair’s breadth of what would have been a vital three points.

With Toulouse looking appearing to have succumbed to defeat, Sanogo arrived in the box at the opportune moment to bring the match square in the 89th minute as he latched onto a Sylla cross – his headed corner nestling in the back off the net off the inside of Continue reading