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PSG lose first match of season in Strasbourg as Neymar and Co falter

Published in France Ligue 1
Sunday, 03 December 2017 10:14

Paris Saint-Germain's star-studded side lost for the first time this season as Strasbourg held on for a famous 2-1 victory following Stephane Bahoken's second-half strike.

After 13 wins and two draws to start the league season for Unai Emery's pace-setters, Saturday's result came out of the blue.

Da Costa stunned the visitors with a 13th-minute opener, getting in behind their defence to nod home a free-kick swung across from the left by Dimitri Lienard.

Kylian Mbappe pounced for an equaliser in the 42nd minute, the teenage striker meeting a driven cross from the left by Adrien Rabiot at the near post and giving Strasbourg goalkeeper Bingourou Kamara no chance.
But Strasbourg restored their lead in the 65th minute when Bahoken burst through the middle to beat Alphonse Areola with a thumping strike high into the net.

Home shot-stopper Kamara had to be replaced due to injury with 20 minutes remaining, as Alexandre Oukidja came on in his place, and moments later the league's leading scorer Edinson Cavani stepped off the bench as PSG chased an equaliser.
Pressure was intensely applied to the Strasbourg goal, with nine minutes of stoppage time giving them even greater hope of a leveller.

But Neymar was booked as frustration in the PSG ranks grew, with Strasbourg clinching a stunning win.

Neymar and Cavani strike again as PSG go 10 points clear

Published in France Ligue 1
Thursday, 30 November 2017 10:02

Neymar and Edinson Cavani, Paris St Germain's deadly double act, again delivered a goal apiece in a sluggish 2-0 victory over Troyes that took them 10 points clear of their Ligue 1 challengers.

While their nearest chasers lost, Lyon succumbing 2-1 at home to struggling Lille and Monaco falling 1-0 at Nantes after a last-gasp Lucas Lima thunderbolt, PSG marched on without ever hitting top gear.
They left it late as a brilliant Neymar strike in the 73rd minute, his 15th PSG goal in all competitions, eased nerves at the Parc des Princes before the Brazilian set up Cavani, who had a first-half penalty saved, to score in stoppage time.

The pair had a spirited debate over who should take the penalty, with Cavani winning the argument, but they worked in perfect harmony for the Uruguayan's 23rd goal, stretching his lead as top marksman in Europe's major leagues this season.
The losses for Lyon and Monaco enabled Marseille, with their emphatic 3-0 win at bottom club Metz, to move into second place but they are 10 points adrift of unbeaten PSG, who moved on to 41 points after 15 games.

Third-placed Lyon and Monaco, both on 29 points, were left two points behind Marseille.

PSG had seemed out of sorts against mid-table opponents they had hammered 9-0 in their last meeting when sealing the title in 2016, but looked to be in charge once Cavani earned the penalty with a theatrical fall under Karim Azamoum's shirt tug.

Just as during a game against Lyon in September when the pair argued over who should take the set-piece duties, Cavani won the day but his 40th minute spot kick was saved by Mamadou Samassa, who was way off his line as the ball was struck.

Neymar, who never stopped trying to galvanise the side, took his one chance superbly, marauding to the edge of the box before unleashing a left-foot shot worthy of the world's most expensive player.

Champions Monaco's miserable spell continued after their Champions League exit and weekend loss to PSG when Nantes' Brazilian substitute Lima cracked home a left foot half-volley to give Claudio Ranieri's side a well deserved win.

Lyon's eight-match unbeaten run in the league was ended surprisingly by Lille, whose goals from Thiago Mendes and Ezequiel Ponce were both aided by poor defending.

Mbappe returns to Monaco for 'special match'

Published in France Ligue 1
Monday, 27 November 2017 08:20

Monaco are preparing for the return of their former favourite Kylian Mbappe as Paris St Germain attempt to take another step towards the Ligue 1 title.

The hosts of Sunday evening's top-of-the-table clash are wounded after their Champions League campaign proved such a disappointment.
A European season that promised so much will see Monaco finish bottom of a group in which their rivals were Besiktas, Porto and Leipzig.

That grim performance provides a striking contrast to Paris St Germain who have set a tournament group-stage scoring record already in scorching through to the second round, after netting 24 goals in just five games so far.

The capital side's forward line of Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani could further sting Monaco, whose defence of their league championship might be as good as over should they suffer a Stade Louis II defeat.

Unbeaten PSG already lead the table by six points from second-placed Monaco.

Eighteen-year-old striker Mbappe played a key role for Monaco in last season's success before joining PSG on loan in the summer, ahead of a planned permanent deal.

"It's a great thing for Kylian to return to Monaco," said PSG head coach Unai Emery.

"He is very happy with what he achieved there. It will be a special match for him, but he will give 100 per cent for Paris St Germain."

Wherever Monaco look, they will recognise danger in the opposition. But the Parisian visitors to the principality are taking nothing for granted.

"Monaco didn't have a good run in the Champions League this year but, in the league, they have the same number of points they had at the same stage last season," Emery added, quoted on PSG's website.

"They play out of their skins when they take on Paris, and we have a lot of respect for them."

Monaco won the corresponding fixture 3-1 last season, and a dossier that resembled a list of reasons to be optimistic was published on the club's website ahead of this weekend's game.
It pointed to how Monaco have lost only one of their last 15 league matches against PSG, and how the one slip-up in that sequence, a 3-0 defeat in August 2015, was the last time the Monegasques failed to score at home in the championship.

Emery said it was a "Champions League-level match", but the last thing Monaco want is a repeat of their performances in that competition.

Monaco head coach Leonardo Jardim said: "We missed our target of advancing in the Champions League. Now we have to move on to other things and think about current targets: the league and the two cups.

"We're going to play against a very strong team. They took no risks by signing very big players: two of the best players in the FIFA XI (Dani Alves and Neymar) and the Golden Boy."

Mbappe collected the latter accolade in October, named Europe's best young player by Italian newspaper Tuttosport.

Jardim, quoted on Monaco's website, said his team must "play with ambition" and the right attitude.

Cavani scores twice as PSG hammer Nantes

Published in France Ligue 1
Sunday, 19 November 2017 07:18

PARIS, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Paris St Germain's unstoppable march towards the Ligue 1 title continued when Edinson Cavani's double inspired them to a 4-1 home win against Nantes on Saturday.

Cavani netted either side of half-time as Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria also scored to put the unbeaten capital side on 35 points from 13 games, six ahead of second-placed Monaco after the champions were held to a 1-1 at Amiens on Friday.

Nantes, who are fifth on 23 points, scored through Prejuce Nakoulma as Claudio Ranieri's team faltered under pressure.

The visitors got off to a solid start but cracked before half-time.

Cavani opened the scoring with a clinical finish from inside the box after being perfectly set up by Pastore.
It was the Uruguay striker's 14th goal after 13 games in the league, the best tally in the French championship since Dick van Dijk with Nice in the 1972-73 season.

Di Maria doubled the advantage three minutes later with a curled cross that nobody could connect with and ended up in the back of the net at the far post.

Nakulma reduced the arrears on the hour mark from close range but Nantes' hopes were short lived.

Five minutes later, Pastore restored a two-goal advantage for the hosts with a powerful shot after being set up by Marco Verratti's through ball.

Cavani put the game to bed 11 minutes from time, poking the ball home from a packed goal-mouth.

Neymar and Unai Emery fell out over stretching

Published in France Ligue 1
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 07:39

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar and manager Unai Emery fell out just days before the Brazilian burst into tears at a press conference, sources close to the coach told Eurosport Spain.

Emery reportedly ordered Neymar to stretch with his team-mates after a training session earlier in November, but he refused and did some shooting drills instead.

Neymar broke down in tears during a media briefing while on international duty last week, with Brazil boss Tite moving to defend his player’s character.
Neymar told a press conference after scoring in Brazil's 3-1 friendly win over Japan on Friday:

"I'm very well in Paris, I'm happy. I'm motivated to be a player who gives everything on the pitch. Anyway, there's something that is bothering me a lot – I don't have a problem with [Edinson] Cavani, I don't have a problem with the coach. I want you to stop inventing stories that I have problems with the coach. I came to help, to contribute, I came to help my coach."
But Eurosport Spain now pour fresh light on a tense situation, saying the relationship between Neymar and Emery is on a collision course due to their opposing styles.

"The truth is that the Brazilian maintains a more than tense relationship with the Spaniard [Emery] and the latest chapter of his already habitual samples of indiscipline was only days before [the press conference]," says the story.

Emery is typically methodical, mulling over minor details, while Neymar is free and undisciplined, per the report. The stretching incident upset Emery not only due to the disrespect, but also because he believes it is a vital part of daily training.
After the 4-0 win over Anderlecht in the Champions League in October, Emery prepared a light training session for the players involved. Meanwhile, the reserves were scheduled to play a game.

Neymar wanted to join in with the reserves after his session, but Emery prevented it – resulting in the Brazilian reportedly throwing a ball against a wall and storming off to the dressing room.

He has also clashed with Cavani over penalty duties, while Emery has already been forced to deny that Neymar is tired of his video sessions.
The report concludes: “Everything indicates that the bad relationship will have its consequences – even to the point that Emery will not end the year as PSG coach.”

Tearful Neymar denies problems at PSG

Published in France Ligue 1
Sunday, 12 November 2017 13:03

Brazil forward Neymar denied he had problems with his team mates at his club Paris St Germain and was moved to tears after being given the backing of his national team coach Tite on Friday.

After helping Brazil beat Japan 3-1 in a friendly, Neymar refuted suggestions that he regretted moving to the French club.

"I don't like whispers and stories so it's better that you hear it from the horses mouth," he told reporters after scoring one penalty and missing another during the game in Lille.
"I don't have any problems at PSG, the only thing that bothers me is the pressure from the media. I'm a guy who likes to win, I like winning titles and that's why I came to PSG.

"I'm very happy, I'm motivated. They are inventing stories which aren't true, I don't have any problems with (forward) Edinson Cavani or with my coach (Unai Emery).

"I came to help and to be happy, I didn't come to upset anyone or cause trouble."

Tite backed Neymar and denied suggestions that he also had a troubled relationship with the player.

"I keep hearing that Tite has problems with Neymar and I am tired of hearing that... we are tired of it," he said.
"I know that if he did have problems, then he would have the decency and the good character to talk about them in the dressing room.

"I can talk about Neymar's temperament, his good nature and his big heart."

Neymar was clearly moved by those words and left after being given a pat on the head by his coach.


Published in France Ligue 1
Friday, 27 October 2017 07:25

The Brazil international will miss Friday's match against Nice after picking up a second yellow card for shoving an opposing player

Neymar’s PSG wish list included signing Alexis Sanchez – report

Published in France Ligue 1
Friday, 06 October 2017 08:19

PSG are reportedly attempting to sign Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez on a free transfer next summer, a move that was on Neymar’s wish list when he joined.

Sanchez’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City.

The report from Le Parisien says that City remains a viable option but PSG are pushing hard to sign him.

Sanchez was reportedly one of the players Neymar wanted PSG to sign when he joined, with the two friends from their time at Barcelona.
Sanchez is attractive as he will be able to join on a free in a summer where PSG will sign Kylian Mbappe on a permanent deal from Monaco for a fee believed to be €180 million.

The report adds that any potential deal for Sanchez could spell the end for Edinson Cavani in the French capital.

PSG's Thomas Meunier reveals Neymar and Edinson Cavani to share penalty duties

Published in France Ligue 1
Sunday, 01 October 2017 09:53

Unai Emery has told Neymar and Edinson Cavani to share Paris St Germain's penalty duties, Thomas Meunier has revealed.

Neymar slotted a spot-kick amid no argument from Cavani as PSG hammered Bordeaux 6-2 to cement their lead atop Ligue 1 on Saturday night.

The Brazil forward and Cavani argued on the field over a penalty in the 2-0 win against Lyon on September 17, but full-back Meunier revealed manager Emery has resolved the row.

Meunier told reporters when asked about PSG's penalty-taking plan:

" It was arranged with the coach before today. If there had been another penalty, it would have been for Edi (Cavani)."
"It's been a good week. We were very, very effective today. The system allows us to attack very, very quickly."
The Parisians battered Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes to claim a three-point lead on rivals Monaco, who could only draw 1-1 with Montpellier on Friday night.

Neymar curled a fine free-kick and struck a penalty as PSG mercilessly swiped away Bordeaux's unbeaten start to the league campaign.

Meunier, Cavani, Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe were all on target too, as the Paris powerhouses ensured they became the league's only side to move to eight games unbeaten.

Bordeaux hit back through Younousse Sankhare and Jonathan Cafu's late penalty, but that scant consolation barely wobbled PSG from their lofty perch.

Despite all the heralding of a stunning start to the new campaign amid Neymar's arrival from Barcelona as the world's most expensive footballer, Meunier sounded a note of caution.

Montpellier held PSG to a goalless draw in their last Ligue 1 encounter, and not even the 3-0 midweek Champions League win over Bayern Munich could let Meunier forget that blip.

"When Neymar has the ball we're pretty confident going forward, but we can still raise our level," Meunier told CanalPlus. "We are not unplayable. We saw against Montpellier that they resisted us well.

"There will be teams that block us and it's up to us to get through."

Paris Saint-Germain v Bayern Munich: Preview

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 08:41

Arjen Robben has warned big-spending Paris St Germain their money ``does not score goals'' ahead of their Champions League tie with Bayern Munich.

The new-look Parisians this summer made Neymar the world's most expensive player for a 222 million euro (£200.6million) fee, while on-loan strike partner Kylian Mbappe is expected to command around £166million if PSG take up their option to buy him outright from Monaco next year.

Those deals are a sign of PSG's intent to seriously contend for European football's biggest prize, a trophy Bayern have won on five occasions.

Robben scored in the final of the most recent one of those triumphs in 2013 and the Dutchman has reminded PSG that even with their riches, they still need to produce on the pitch.

``Paris have already spent a few more euros than we have, but money does not score goals,'' he told kicker. ``Quality on the pitch scores goals - good teams score goals.''

PSG crushed Celtic 5-0 in their opening Champions League group-stage encounter and Saturday's draw at Montpellier was the first time they failed to win all season.

Neymar was absent that night, though he is back in the squad for Wednesday night, and Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has pinpointed the danger of PSG's attacking triumvirate of Neymar, Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.

We're respectful of PSG, especially their attack; they have three world-class players up front,'' Rummenigge admitted on Bayern's official website. ``However, we have more experience in the Champions League.''

By prising away one of Barcelona's top players in Neymar and landing another of the world's hottest young properties in Mbappe, PSG began this Champions League campaign among the favourites to go all the way.

Manager Unai Emery believes his team now deserve to be considered among the continent's elite, even if they have made themselves somewhat unpopular in elevating themselves to such a position.

``When I was in Spain, I watched Europe's big clubs like Real, Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus and Manchester (United), with all the best players in the world,'' Emery told a press conference.

``There are five or six teams that can buy the best players in the world. Our team has taken an important step towards competing with the best teams.

``Today, we have more enemies, because they see that we have a serious team and that our transfer activity put us a step closer to being in the mix to win the Champions League.

``It's not a demand, it's a process. That's why people are talking about us a lot more now. Right now people are talking about Paris St Germain because we are among the best teams in the world.''

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