PSG lose another game in Ligue 1 but get away with it

PSG lost their 3rd game of the season, something which usually doesn’t happen until around April and yet they are still 7 points in the lead in Ligue 1, in a season which is looking quite bland as far as who will win the league title goes.

This latest defeat was perhaps the most surprising as the club were playing Dijon who are struggling badly in the league and look set for a relegation dog fight. Whilst it is true that Dijon’s form has picked up no one expected them to get anything against the champions even if they were at home last Friday night.

What made matters worse was that PSG opened the scoring and it looked like only a matter of time before the league leaders would add to that, but it didn’t happen. Dijon actually fought back and won 2-1, that winning goal coming after a great solo run from Jhonder Cadiz.

Dijon coach Stephane Jobard said: “I’m happy for my players because they were rewarded for their efforts. We caused PSG problems and were also able to hold them off. It’s a great chapter in the club’s history, and proves to me that we belong in Ligue 1″ He continued: “I’m certain of my players mental strength, and we showed character in equalising before the break. We scored at key times: at the end of the first half and the start of the second. That ruined things a bit for PSG, because after that they became a little too individualist.”

With PSG losing it meant that 2nd placed Nantes could take full advantage and close the points gap to 5, but the Canaries lost to Bordeaux 2-0 to make it 3 defeats in a row. This has let in Angers who have gone back up to 2nd place after they beat Strasbourg 1-0. At the end of the weekend PSG can be content in knowing that they only lost 1 point

Next PSG will play in the Champions League and their next domestic match will be against Brest. On paper this should be 3 points but Brest are at home and unbeaten their all season and have proved to be very solid. It should be an interesting game and we have seen already that if teams are willing to give PSG a game this one can struggle.

Is Thomas Tuchel’s job under threat? For now that answer is no, but if the club struggle some more in the league and do not win the Champions League, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is his last season.

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PSG’s rout of Marseille confirms Ligue 1 as a one team league

The beginning of the season in France’s Ligue 1 just felt different. It may have been because the champions every year except in 2017 since 2012, PSG had suffered through transfer speculation all summer about Neymar. It looked as if the Brazilian was certain to leave, he wanted to, and yet a proposed deal to Barcelona or Real Madrid fell through and Neymar and PSG were stuck with one another, not that PSG ever wanted Neymar to leave in the first place.

Then there was the beginning of the season, PSG had a poor pre-season and then lost a couple of early games. Losing at this stage of the season just didn’t feel normal at all. When the club then lost 2-0 at home against Reims that was simply seen as a shock, this PSG weren’t supposed to lose in Paris, and if they did then it would happen in April with the season long over not in September.

On top of PSG’s league problems was their attacking front three, when on form look like the deadliest in Europe. Edinson Cavani a veteran now also looked like he would be leaving in the summer but he couldn’t find a good deal. But he has spent most of the opening campaign injured. Neymar also started the season injured, then came back and duly earned 9 points for the club in four games, his goals in single goal games won games and won over the fans, even the ultras who had warned Neymar that it would take a long time to win their trust back. Think of Neymar what you will, he is a world class player and a summer of discontent has not changed that fact.

However on recent international duty Neymar was injured and the forward is not expected back until after the November international break. So attentions turned to Kylian Mbappe the outstanding French forward but he has also missed key games through injury. He is back now and has simply continued scoring goals, it is amazing to think that Mbappe is just 20 years old. Mbappe has scored 8 goals in all competitions this season totalling 9 games. And for PSG overall he has scored 68 goals in 96 appearances that is simply fantastic.

So with PSG having a stop/start beginning to their season one could think that even if they win the league it would be much more competitive than it has been in recent years, not so. PSG might have lost 2 games already seen this but just thank the big man upstairs that they have because they are winning their other games and destroying others. This includes smashing Marseille 4-0 at the weekend with two goals each for Mbappe and Mauro Icardi. Make no mistake that PSG coach Thomas Tuchel was on the money bringing in quality like Icardi to PSG when their strikers were getting injured.

So after 11 games PSG have 27 points from a maximum of 33 and in fact that’s very impressive so impressive that the other clubs simply cannot keep up with them. Nantes are the surprise team in 2nd place but they have lost their last two games and are 8 points behind PSG. Last December it was clear that only PSG would win the league and that looks like easily being the case again.

One of the main problems is that Lille who finished as runners up last season sold a couple of their best players and Lyon started the season with Sylvinho in charge only to sack him after a few months. Lyon will improve after a shocking start to the season but they are already 14 points behind PSG as a consequence.

The French league has a lot to like about it, and sometimes fans of other leagues don’t see this. But there is one glaring problem, we already know who will be the league champions with 27 more games left to play and that can’t be good for anyone.

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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.

 

 

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 Defenders in 2018/19: Thiago Silva

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Thiago Silva feels like part of the furniture at multi champions PSG and the Brazilian has certainly been loyal to the club from Paris. He joined the club in 2012 from AC Milan and has played almost 200 league games and counting cups that rises to almost 300 games.

It was another solid year for Silva in the back four even if it meant just the league title this season as PSG imploded in the domestic cups and also the Champions League. Still at 34 Silva is rightly regarded as one of the best defenders in the game today.

Silva started the season with a value of 9.5m in the fantasy rankings and finished 5th in the defenders rankings for Ligue 1. He earned 60 points and was just four shy of fellow Brazilian Dante Costa. Silva has never been one for his goals, which is justifiable given his position and he did not score any this past season although he did assist in one goal. He was able to be part of a four man wall that kept 14 clean sheets and he was booked on four occasions, but not sent off.

Whilst Silva did earn 5 points for keeping a clean sheet in PSG’s opening 4-0 victory over Caen it was in the following games where he struggled. Even though PSG won their next 3 matches, they conceded in each of them including 2 against Nimes and that meant that Silva was punished and earned -1 point for those games.

Because Silva wasn’t able to earn any extra points through scoring goals his best points tally in single match was just 5, which he earned 14 times. He had two moments of good consistency in the season. The first was just before Christmas in a period which saw the champions thrash Guingamp 9-0 and he earned points in 4 games in a row. The other was towards the end of the season in February and onto March where he went another four games earning points which ended up totalling 19 points.

His worst points total coincided with PSG’s dismal poor form at the end of the season when they had virtually wrapped up the league title. He went the last four games of the season earning in just one game and letting slip -6 points in the other three games. His worst tally in one game ended up being against Lille when the team in 2nd place upset PSG at home and won 5-1, earning Silva -4 points.

Silva looks set to stay at PSG as it was announced before the end of the season that he and his family had been confirmed as French citizens- and that can only be a benefit for French football and PSG. He also earned one more point this past season than the season before.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers in 2018/19: Neymar

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Several books could be written on Neymar’s season with PSG, and this was supposed to be the season that Neymar helped the French champions to the Champions League trophy, the one the club are really after. What happened was that Neymar replicated last season and missed key games as the league ran down. It was a frustrating season for Neymar even if PSG did end up winning the Ligue 1 title again.

Most of this frustration was off the pitch. The Brazilian’s niggling injuries didn’t help- he played just 17 league games this season. Then he was outspoken about UEFA when Manchester United arguably did get the run of the luck when they dumped out PSG in Paris, he swore on social media and was handed with a 3 game ban. This means that whoever he is playing for next season he won’t play in 50% of the group games.

Then Neymar was involved with a Rennes fan after Rennes had upset PSG and won the Coupe de France. He appeared to hit the fan and after returning from injury he was suspended for another 3 games meaning that he didn’t even finish the season off properly with the club.

This was the nightmare season for Neymar in many ways, and yet he was still good enough to basically play half a season and finish as the 4th best striker in Ligue 1. He finished the season with 72 points and was able to score an incredible 15 goals from his 17 games and assisted in a further 7 goals. When he played PSG kept 6 clean sheets and no matter his temperament off the field on it he was almost impeccable receiving only 2 yellow cards.

What is remarkable about Neymar’s season is that the first 13 games that he played he always earned points. His best personal game was against Guingamp at the beginning of 2019 when PSG ran riot and won 9-0. Neymar helped himself to 2 goals and assisted in another in a very easy win.

On two occasions he earned zero points but he never finished a game this past season on minus points. His last contribution was against Angers on May 11th when PSG won 2-1 and he scored a goal and assisted in the other.

The question is, was that Neymar’s last game for PSG? It is no secret that the Brazilian wants away and wants to re-join Barcelona again for next season. Could PSG complain after spending over 200m euros on him, because they would make a profit on the player if they did sell him.

Despite some negative aspects surrounding Neymar, his showmanship and hard work rate have still been held high in France and it is difficult to judge a striker that scores goals. He has played 37 games in the league over two seasons and scored 34 goals. Injuries aside he has been one of the best players to grace the game in Ligue 1 in recent history.

What does the future hold? This summer will turn into a Neymar saga it appears.

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Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Marquinhos

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Marquinhos is going to go down as a legend with PSG no matter how his career ends with the current Ligue 1 champions. It feels like he has been at the club forever commanding the back four. The truth is he is still only 25 and has seen players come and go including one of the very first stars for PSG- Zlatan Ibrahimovic and yet here he is having enjoyed his 6th season with the club.

In the European Fantasy League rankings for Ligue 1 defenders Marquinhos finished in joint 2nd place with Malang Sarr of Lille and got 70 points from his value of 7.5m. He played 30 games and so is still seen as an integral part of the team and he was able to help with 13 clean sheets as PSG conceded 24 goals for the whole season in Ligue 1.

Marquinhos in true Brazilian style for a defender even contributed to some goals. He scored 3 this season and assisted in another two. He received 2 yellow cards and 1 sending off for the season.

His final ranking was such that he finished in 20th place for defenders in all the major European leagues.

The Brazilian started the season off in solid fashion earning 5 points as PSG kept a clean sheet in their 3-0 win against Caen. However in the next five games Marquinhos went through a rough period, where PSG were winning but conceding goals which was hitting him as a defender and in those five games he earned no points. Indeed because two goals were conceded against Nimes, even though PSG won that game 4-2 he ended up with -1 point for that period of time.

However after those games Marquinhos picked up a huge 21 points in his next 3 matches including scoring 9 points when PSG beat Amiens 5-0. He kept a clean sheet and also scored a goal, this is the most points that he would earn in a single game all season.

Towards the end of the season there was another bout of non consistency as PSG ran away with the league and when it was confirmed the club struggled to stay focused especially when they exited the Champions League to Manchester United. It meant that in Marquinhos’ last five games he ended up with a total score of -4 points, as PSG kept conceding silly goals and were losing almost on a weekly basis.

For Marquinhos the job was done though and yet another Ligue 1 title came his way. It was also an improvement on the previous seasons score when he managed 52 points, and surely he would have earned more points had PSG remained on their game until the end of the season.

Marquinhos remains an important player for PSG and even more than that since he gets on with his job and isn’t looking for a move away he is very respected at the club.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers of 2018/19: Kylian Mbappe

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Kylian Mbappe had another fantastic season as he scored 33 goals and topped the lead goal scorers list in France as a result. His goals were the primary cause for PSG winning another Ligue 1 title as Mbappe underlined his reputation as one of the best strikers in Europe.

This season in particular was a massive step up for Mbappe when we consider his previous seasons. Before the start of 2018/19 season the most league goals Mbappe had scored in one season was 15, for Monaco, in season 2016/17. This season he managed 18 more goals and the plaudits need to be lauded on the player for the following reason; he was able to step up after PSG lost the services of both Edinson Cavani and Neymar and Mbappe then became the main player and forward for the club.

Let’s analyse his season. Mbappe started off with a bang when he scored a brace against Guingamp in a fairly routine win and all of this happened despite him only playing 50 minutes of the game. Within the first 2 games of the season he had acquired 14 points and never really looked back.

His best game of the season happened in matchday 5 when PSG destroyed league rivals Lyon 5-0 in Paris. Mbappe was heavily involved and scored an incredible 4 goals, he also picked up bonus points for getting a hat-trick and ended the game with 18 points. Other highlights of the season included scoring a hat-trick and making an assist in PSG’s 9-0 victory over Guingamp, that earned him 16 points and he earned another 14 with another hat-trick against Monaco later in the season.

There were only 4 games when Mbappe failed to record any points and he remained consistent throughout the season. One such instance of this was at the beginning of the season where Mbappe scored points in the first 8 weeks of the season.

Mbappe finished on a huge 144 points in Ligue 1 Fantasy Football rankings and finished 35 points ahead of Nicolas Pepe. His value going into last season was 10.5m and perhaps after having such a great season his value may go up next season. Overall Mbappe would rank 2nd in the strikers list with only Lionel Messi at Barcelona having gained more points.

It is still incredible to think that he is only 20 years old and he has already won 6 major trophies including a World Cup and 3 Ligue 1 titles with PSG and Monaco.

As for his future it looks destined to be away from Ligue 1, but he looks like he will stay with PSG for the foreseeable future and will remain the main focus point of Ligue 1 football. He is arguably the most special talent in classic centre forward style since the Brazilian Ronaldo.

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Kylian Mbappe makes demands to PSG in front of stunned crowd at awards show

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The French have a saying for when you put your foot in it, it’s called faux pas and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe did just that at the French football awards at the weekend. Mbappe received the highest award with winning the player of the season in France and then hinted in front of a packed audience that included PSG’s owners and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel that his future may lie elsewhere, it was a stunning moment.

Mbappe took his award and then told everyone listening: “It’s a very important moment for me, I come to a turning point in my career. I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility.I hope that can perhaps be at Paris St Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”

Mbappe’s statement is one of intent and he is clearly not happy at PSG. This in part may be to do with the fact that the club keep blowing up at the knockout rounds of the Champions League but at the same time there is a strong feeling that Real Madrid have approached PSG and offered upwards of 250 million euros for the player.

The 20 year old joined the club in 2017 after guiding Monaco to a Ligue 1 title, initially this was on a loan deal before he joined for a transfer fee in the region of £160m becoming the 2nd most expensive player in history behind Neymar his PSG teammate.

While Mbappe has had a fantastic season scoring 32 goals in just 28 games and 38 overall this season his speech will strike some as shocking. At just 20 he wants to rule the roost and have his say, and while he undoubtedly has the talent to be remembered as one of the greats one could wonder if he isn’t getting too ahead of himself. Or could it be that Real Madrid have already made contact and Mbappe was asked to stoke the fires somewhat- to do that in this company, well he has got a reaction that is for sure.

So what can PSG do to keep the player happy? First will be a wage rise, next could be that Mbappe wants more say, what exactly that extends to is anyone’s guess, but he has now laid down a marker and it feels that it is only a question of when and not if Mbappe leaves the club. The destination looks set for Madrid, rare has any player in the past turned the club down, why should that stop at Mbappe?

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Is Jose Mourinho nearing the PSG job?

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Love him or dislike him football doesn’t quite feel the same without the special one Jose Mourinho involved in it, and no Russian punditry doesn’t count. It is obviously only a matter of time before Mourinho is back in management, but with what club will it be for?

With the Premier League and La Liga seemingly ruled out for the time being it seems that Mourinho’s next move could either be to go Italy, he is loved at Inter Milan or perhaps a new fresh challenge in France’s Ligue 1.

A few weeks ago Mourinho was being linked to French giants Lyon, this made sense given that the PSG job looked like a total no- no given how strong the club had been under coach Thomas Tuchel in his debut season.

The problem with Lyon is that they have regularly been a good 20 points off of PSG’s pace. Could the presence of Mourinho and a fresh cheque book really make a difference and end PSG’s dominance in France? It would make for a great challenge for Mourinho, who has never really taken a risk in football since joining Inter Milan a decade ago.

But time is short and quick in football and now Tuchel at PSG is under pressure. Since news broke of Mourinho possibly going to Ligue 1 PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United, a team in transition and a team PSG had beat in England in the 1st leg 2-0. PSG had bottled it once again ran the headlines and to be frank it felt like they did.

Then the club missed out on a domestic double by losing the Coupe de France final to unfancied Rennes, all of a sudden PSG won just one trophy this season and have lost countless times as the season comes to an end. It has been a bittersweet one for Tuchel even if PSG did win the league.

The cracks are there that weren’t a few months ago, indeed coming into the new year Tuchel and PSG seemed like the perfect fit. No body is talking about it but surely the threat of Mourinho lurks around the corner for Tuchel.

At the same time Mourinho has had two complete meltdowns in his last 2 jobs and PSG must be weary of that. Has Mourinho learned from those experiences and more importantly is he willing to learn. Just for the circus of it all having Mourinho in Paris seems great for football, but Tuchel may well still be the right man for the club if they give him time.