Messi, Mbappe, Neymar Score As PSG Fight Back To Beat Haifa

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Israel’s Maccabi Haifa and France’s Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Sammy Ofer stadium in the city of Haifa on September 14, 2022. (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)

 

Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all scored as Paris Saint-Germain came from a goal down to win 3-1 at Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday and make it two wins from two in the Champions League group stage.

Tjaronn Chery gave Haifa a surprise lead but Messi equalised before the break by scoring for an 18th consecutive season in the Champions League.

PSG finished off their impressive hosts with an improved performance in the last half-hour as Mbappe and Neymar found the net.

“We have to improve. We have to work,” Mbappe told uefa.com.

“We are working, but we need the results to show in our play, because things are going to come around quickly with the (international) break and the World Cup.”

The Qatari-backed club are now top of Group H on goals scored above Benfica, who won 2-1 at Juventus.

Haifa threatened a shaky PSG defence throughout the game, but the Ligue 1 giants passed the test thanks to their front three.

“The fact that the three of us can make the difference in a game is an advantage for us,” Mbappe added.

“I hope that all three of us keep scoring as it means that we’ll win matches.”

Paris, still searching for a maiden Champions League title, go into home and away matches against Benfica knowing that two wins would secure a place in the knock-out stage.

PSG could have taken the lead inside 70 seconds as Mbappe burst into the box, only to see his effort denied by a sprawling save from home goalkeeper Josh Cohen.

Mbappe spurned another excellent chance as he got in behind the Haifa defence again but took a heavy touch.

Haifa Take Shock Lead

The Israelis grew into the game and took a shock 24th-minute lead as Dolev Haziza was given time and space to whip in a cross that was volleyed home by Suriname international Chery.

Haifa briefly thought they had scored again when Frantzdy Pierrot put the ball in the net, but the flag was raised for offside.

PSG dragged themselves level eight minutes before the break, as Mbappe’s low cross was deflected perfectly to Messi who slotted the ball past Cohen from close range.

Haifa kept pushing for a deserved half-time advantage, but Omer Atzili dragged a shot wide and visiting ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made a flying save to tip away Chery’s long-range strike.

PSG continued to struggle at the start of the second period, but gradually improved and Messi forced Cohen into an excellent low stop in the 65th minute.

The French champions forged ahead for the first time four minutes later, as Messi slipped a pass-through for Mbappe to slide a shot into the far corner.

Haifa kept pushing for an equaliser, but just seconds after Chery blazed a free-kick over, PSG countered and Neymar fired the ball into the bottom corner to complete the scoring.

Mbappe Gets PSG Off To Flying Start In Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring the 1-0 goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Juventus at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, on September 6, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

 

Kylian Mbappe produced two lethal first-half finishes as Paris Saint-Germain got their latest bid for Champions League success off to a winning start by beating Juventus 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

Mbappe’s two goals were stunning, the first coming after an outrageous scooped assist by Neymar inside five minutes and the second at the end of a superb move midway through the first half.

PSG were cruising at half-time before being given a wake-up call early in the second half as substitute Weston McKennie headed Juventus back into the game.

Yet Juve are a faded force compared to just a few years ago and came to the French capital without several key players, including former PSG star Angel di Maria.

They could not find an equaliser and the Parisians claimed their first three points in Group H.

“I was very pleased with the team,” said PSG coach Christophe Galtier. “Winning in difficult circumstances can only make us stronger.”

Mbappe, along with Galtier, had come in for stiff criticism in France in the 24 hours leading up to this game for laughing when a question was put to him in the pre-match press conference about his club’s decision to travel for last weekend’s league visit to Nantes by private jet rather than take a more environmentally friendly train.

The World Cup winner’s performance here suggested none of the negative headlines had remotely bothered him, as Mbappe confirmed exactly why PSG were so desperate to keep him at the end of last season when he seemed set to depart for Real Madrid.

“We knew before this game that we had weaknesses but we are working to improve,” Mbappe told broadcaster Canal Plus.

He signed a new deal in Paris to 2025 with the aim of leading his hometown team to a first Champions League title after a decade of disappointing defeats and occasional humiliations at the business end of the competition.

“I have a new role in the side now. The coach wants me to be someone who can hold the ball up, to get in behind and also that I act as a link between Leo and Ney. I am trying to adapt to that new role while also scoring goals.”

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (top) leaps over Juventus’ Argentine midfielder Leandro Paredes (bottom) as Juventus’ Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci (R) pursues during the UEFA Champions League Group H first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Juventus at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, on September 6, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

– Electrifying –
He needed just five minutes to get the breakthrough on a balmy evening after linking up brilliantly with Neymar, one of his rivals for the limelight in PSG’s squad of superstars.

Mbappe, coming in from the left, supplied Neymar before continuing into the box to meet the Brazilian’s delightful return pass with a volley across goalkeeper Mattia Perin into the far corner.

Juve actually very nearly equalised in the 19th minute when Arkadiusz Milik’s header from Juan Cuadrado’s cross was parried by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

It was 2-0 just three minutes later, as Mbappe played an electrifying exchange with Achraf Hakimi this time before sending another first-time strike past Perin.

With Marco Verratti and summer signing Vitinha robbing balls in midfield, Lionel Messi slipping in between the Juve defence and midfield to play intelligent passes, and Mbappe seeking to deploy his electrifying pace, PSG looked impressive.

But Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri sent on McKennie for the ineffective Fabio Miretti at half-time, and the United States international reduced the deficit in the 53rd minute.

Leandro Paredes played a short corner on the left to Filip Kostic, and his cross was headed home by McKennie with Donnarumma caught in no-man’s land.

Mbappe had squandered a great chance to make it 3-0 moments before that when he chose to shoot into the side-netting rather than pick out Neymar at the back post.

The home side then had Donnarumma to thank for a fine save to keep out a Dusan Vlahovic header, but a bigger margin of victory for PSG would not have been undeserved, with Perin keeping out a late Neymar volley.

“We could have got a positive result. But PSG are an extraordinary team with fantastic players, and they had several chances too,” admitted Allegri.

Mbappe has nine goals in six games for his club this season, and has scored eight in his last seven Champions League appearances.

If he keeps playing like he is just now then this could well be PSG’s year at long last.

Mbappe Dismisses Rift Talk With France Teammate Pogba Over Blackmail Affair

In this file photo, France’s forward Kylian Mbappe (L) celebrates with France’s midfielder Paul Pogba after scoring the opening goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and France at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on March 27, 2018. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe on Monday played down suggestions that his relationship with Paul Pogba could be impacted after his name came up in a blackmail affair engulfing his France teammate.

Pogba says he is the victim of a multi-million euro blackmail plot to discredit him by claiming he asked a witch doctor to cast a spell on Mbappe.

The claims about the witch doctor were revealed publicly by Pogba’s elder brother Mathias.

Paul Pogba, who left Manchester United in the close season to return to former club Juventus, denies the accusation.

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“No because today as things stand I prefer to believe what my teammate says,” Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe said when asked if there might be a problem with Pogba.

Mbappe was speaking at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League game between PSG and Pogba’s Juventus in Paris.

“He called me and gave me his version of events. It is his word against his brother’s word. I am going to trust my teammate,” Mbappe said of his fellow 2018 World Cup winner.

“I think it’s in the interests of the national team as well with a big tournament coming up.

“At the moment he already has certain problems and now is not the time to add to those problems.

“We’ll see what happens but I am quite detached from all that.”

A criminal investigation was launched in France last week into the affair.

Based on the findings of a preliminary investigation last month it will examine allegations — for now against persons unknown — including blackmail by an armed gang, kidnapping and membership of a criminal conspiracy.

Pogba is sidelined for Juve’s clash with PSG on Tuesday and faces a battle to be fit for France’s defence of the World Cup trophy in Qatar starting in November.

He is currently recovering from a knee injury.

AFP

Mauricio Pochettino Leaves Role As PSG Coach


EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain, Mauricio Pochettino, on Tuesday ended his role as coach at the Club.

Pochettino had won the Ligue 1 but failed to secure the Champions League trophy for the club despite boasting of an all-star line-up featuring Neymar, Lionel Messi and Mbappe.

In a statement on its official Twitter handle, the French giants said: ‘Paris Saint-Germain confirm that Mauricio Pochettino has ended his role at the club.

“We would like to thank Mauricio Pochettino and his staff for their work and wish them the best for the future.”

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Former Head coach of Nice, Christophe Galtier is expected to be confirmed as his replacement on a two-year deal.

Pochettino joined the French giants in January 2021 on an 18-month contract to replace outgoing Thomas Tuchel.

The Argentine finished second in the league during his first campaign, crashed out of the Champions League in the semi-finals, but won the Coupe de France Final.

 

Mbappe Wanted To Know If I Would Join PSG, Says Tchouameni

French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni holds a press conference during his official presentation as new player of Real Madrid CF at the Ciudad Real Madrid in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on June 14, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Real Madrid’s new signing Aurelien Tchouameni said Kylian Mbappe asked if he would sign for Paris Saint-Germain, as the 22-year-old was unveiled at Madrid’s training ground on Tuesday.

Madrid won the race to sign Tchouameni, one of the world’s most highly-rated midfielders, from Monaco in a deal worth around 100 million euros.

His arrival comes after Mbappe rejected Real Madrid to sign a three-year contract at PSG. Madrid have also signed Antonio Rudiger this summer, the defender joining from Chelsea on a free transfer.

“Kylian decided to stay at PSG and he already knew I was going to leave Monaco at the end of the season,” Tchouameni said in a press conference, after being introduced by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

“He wanted to know if I would go to PSG but I told him Real Madrid was my first choice and he understood that completely, he was very happy for me.”

Tchouameni has signed a six-year contract at Real Madrid after being linked with several of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Liverpool and Chelsea in the Premier League.

“As soon as Madrid arrived, I didn’t hesitate,” he said.

“I want to leave my mark on football and the best club for this is Real Madrid. It’s the best decision for me.”

He said Real Madrid’s sensational comebacks in the Champions League against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City helped him make up his mind.

Madrid beat Liverpool in the final to win the club’s 14th European Cup.

“It’s true that when I watched those games I wrote to my agent and told him, ‘please do everything possible to get me to Real Madrid’,” Tchouameni said.

After breaking into the first team at Bordeaux, Tchouameni joined Monaco in 2020 and was a key player last season as they finished third in Ligue 1, behind PSG and Marseille. He was also named Young Player of the Season at the end of the 2020/21 season.

With 12 caps for France, Tchouameni will be hoping to secure his place in the starting line-up for the World Cup in Qatar in November and he said former Real Madrid star and coach Zinedine Zidane as one of his idols.

Madrid have long-relied on Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro in midfield but all three are now in their thirties, with Tchouameni viewed as a possible successor to Casemiro.

“Since I was little I have played with two midfielders and in a 4-3-3 my position would be as a number six, but I can play as an eight as well, I can play in both positions,” he said.

Perez said Tchouameni is “one of the best midfielders in the world”. He added: “At 22 years old you were able to choose your club and you have chosen this one.”

Mbappe In Position Of Power At PSG After Agreeing To New Deal

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a third goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on May 21, 2022. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe’s decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain confirms the Qatar-backed club’s position of power within European football but also means the superstar striker is likely to wield huge influence as they rebuild for another assault on the Champions League.

The 23-year-old had for so long seemed certain to sign for Real Madrid before being persuaded to commit to a new three-year deal at PSG, the club he joined in 2017 from Monaco.

His new salary is set to be even more eye-watering than before and accompanied by an astronomical signing-on fee: there were reports that Real’s own offer included a signing-on fee of 150 million euros ($154m).

Yet PSG will also be determined to do everything they can to provide Mbappe with a team good enough to deliver finally the trophy he wants the most, and that the Qataris have chased without success since arriving in Paris in 2011.

This season’s defeat in the last 16 to Real Madrid following a collapse in the second leg was just the latest humiliation for PSG in the Champions League, a series that most notably includes the 6-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2017.

Five years ago they reacted to that stinging loss by signing Neymar from Barcelona as well as a teenage Mbappe.

Now they have exacted revenge on Madrid by denying them Mbappe.

“I always said that Paris was my home. I hope I can carry on doing what I love most -– playing football and winning trophies,” the player said after the announcement of his new deal and before scoring a hat-trick in PSG’s 5-0 win over Metz on Saturday in their last game of the season.

Hours after that came the news that sporting director Leonardo — heavily criticised by supporters — had been fired.

Reports in France on Sunday suggested PSG may now look to replace Leonardo with Luis Campos, the Portuguese recruitment guru who helped build title-winning teams at Lille and Monaco and knows Mbappe well.

– Pochettino set to follow Leonardo –

Coach Mauricio Pochettino is also expected to leave despite delivering the club’s French record-equalling 10th league title.

“I only found out a few minutes before the official announcement,” admitted the Argentine on Saturday when asked about Mbappe’s new deal.

Pochettino has struggled to stamp his mark at PSG, although it is not clear who they might look to as a successor –- the possibility of Zinedine Zidane appears unlikely.

Then there is the team itself.

“It is a big step forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” admitted captain Marquinhos following Mbappe’s decision to sta.:

PSG’s recruitment of Lionel Messi has not worked out as hoped, the former Barcelona man managing just 11 goals in his first season in France.

Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or last year but will be 35 next month, while Neymar continues to struggle with his form and fitness.

Could PSG look to offload both as they make Mbappe the undisputed figurehead of their project? And if so who would be willing and able to take Messi and Neymar off their hands?

– Too much influence? –

A sensible approach for PSG would surely be to focus more of their efforts on bringing through the best players emerging from the vast Paris region, one of the most fertile breeding grounds for footballing talent in the world.

Too many academy graduates have left PSG early in recent years. The latest France squad features Mike Maignan, Adrien Rabiot, Kingsley Coman, Moussa Diaby and Christopher Nkunku, all former PSG players who chose, or were encouraged, to depart.

Nkunku has just won the player of the year award in the Bundesliga after scoring 35 goals for RB Leipzig.

But front and centre is Mbappe, the World Cup winner from the northern Paris suburb of Bondy who finished the season with 39 goals.

There is arguably no more thrilling sight in modern football than Mbappe running at full speed at an opposition defence. His pace is astonishing. He is a voracious goal-scorer and the player expected to dominate the sport for years to come.

And as Pochettino remarked: “Kylian really identifies with this city.”

The prospect of winning a first Champions League with his hometown team will be an enticing one for Mbappe, but giving one player such power is a risk.

“The danger is that PSG become Mbappe FC,” said France 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu, speaking on television show Telefoot.

“They need to try not to have this rock-star policy. They need to build a collective.”

Mbappe In Position Of Power At PSG After Agreeing To New Deal

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe poses with a jersey after the announcement he staying at PSG until 2025 before the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on May 21, 2022.
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe’s decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain confirms the Qatar-backed club’s position of power within European football but also means the superstar striker is likely to wield huge influence as they rebuild for another assault on the Champions League.

The 23-year-old had for so long seemed certain to sign for Real Madrid before being persuaded to commit to a new three-year deal at PSG, the club he joined in 2017 from Monaco.

His new salary is set to be even more eye-watering than before and accompanied by an astronomical signing-on fee: there were reports that Real’s own offer included a signing-on fee of 150 million euros ($154m).

Yet PSG will also be determined to do everything they can to provide Mbappe with a team good enough to deliver finally the trophy he wants the most, and that the Qataris have chased without success since arriving in Paris in 2011.

This season’s defeat in the last 16 to Real Madrid following a collapse in the second leg was just the latest humiliation for PSG in the Champions League, a series that most notably includes the 6-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2017.

Five years ago they reacted to that stinging loss by signing Neymar from Barcelona as well as a teenage Mbappe.

Now they have exacted revenge on Madrid by denying them Mbappe.

“I always said that Paris was my home. I hope I can carry on doing what I love most -– playing football and winning trophies,” the player said after the announcement of his new deal and before scoring a hat-trick in PSG’s 5-0 win over Metz on Saturday in their last game of the season.

Hours after that came the news that sporting director Leonardo — heavily criticised by supporters — had been fired.

Reports in France on Sunday suggested PSG may now look to replace Leonardo with Luis Campos, the Portuguese recruitment guru who helped build title-winning teams at Lille and Monaco and knows Mbappe well.

– Pochettino set to follow Leonardo –
Coach Mauricio Pochettino is also expected to leave despite delivering the club’s French record-equalling 10th league title.

“I only found out a few minutes before the official announcement,” admitted the Argentine on Saturday when asked about Mbappe’s new deal.

Pochettino has struggled to stamp his mark at PSG, and although it is not clear who they might look to as a successor –- the possibility of Zinedine Zidane appears unlikely.

Then there is the team itself.

“It is a big step forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” admitted captain Marquinhos following Mbappe’s decision to sta.:

PSG’s recruitment of Lionel Messi has not worked out as hoped, the former Barcelona man managing just 11 goals in his first season in France.

Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or last year but will be 35 next month, while Neymar continues to struggle with his form and fitness.

Could PSG look to offload both as they make Mbappe the undisputed figurehead of their project? And if so who would be willing and able to take Messi and Neymar off their hands?

– Too much influence? –
A sensible approach for PSG would surely be to focus more of their efforts on bringing through the best players emerging from the vast Paris region, one of the most fertile breeding grounds for footballing talent in the world.

Too many academy graduates have left PSG early in recent years. The latest France squad features Mike Maignan, Adrien Rabiot, Kingsley Coman, Moussa Diaby, and Christopher Nkunku, all former PSG players who chose or were encouraged, to depart.

Nkunku has just won the player of the year award in the Bundesliga after scoring 35 goals for RB Leipzig.

But front and centre is Mbappe, the World Cup winner from the northern Paris suburb of Bondy who finished the season with 39 goals.

There is arguably no more thrilling sight in modern football than Mbappe running at full speed at an opposition defence. His pace is astonishing. He is a voracious goal-scorer and the player expected to dominate the sport for years to come.

And as Pochettino remarked: “Kylian really identifies with this city.”

The prospect of winning a first Champions League with his hometown team will be an enticing one for Mbappe, but giving one player such power is a risk.

“The danger is that PSG become Mbappe FC,” said France 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu, speaking on the television show Telefoot.

“They need to try not to have this rock-star policy. They need to build a collective.”

Mbappe Chooses To Stay At PSG, Snubs Real Madrid – Reports

In this file photograph taken on February 29, 2020, Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Dijon at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
In this file photograph taken on February 29, 2020, Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Dijon at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe has decided to stay at Paris Saint-Germain despite weeks of speculation linking the forward to a move to Real Madrid, according to widespread reports on Saturday.

The French World Cup winner has made up his mind to remain faithful to PSG and is poised to sign a three-year extension to his contract which ends on June 30, L’Equipe in France and Spanish sports paper Marca reported.

The player’s entourage refused to elaborate but reports suggest PSG could make a statement later Saturday when the club are playing Metz in their final match of the season at the Parc des Princes.

The 23-year-old’s ‘will-he-won’t-he’ move to Madrid has kept fans and the two clubs on their toes over the past few months.

READ ALSO: Man City’s De Bruyne Voted Premier League Player Of The Season

Mbappe has made no secret of his desire to play one day for Real, who will play Liverpool in the Champions League final next weekend after securing a 35th Spanish title.

But PSG, who have won the Ligue 1 title for a record-equalling tenth time but angered their hardcore supporters with their limp exit to Real in the last 16 of the Champions League, have battled to hold on to their biggest asset.

It now appears Mbappe is staying put alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi to help them in their protracted quest to land the Champions League.

According to Marca and RMC, Mbappe has informed Real Madrid president Florentino Perez of his decision to remain at the French champions.

 

AFP

PSG Hold Out Hope Over Mbappe Future In Title Run-In

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe gestures during a training session at the Camp des Loges Paris Saint-Germain football club’s training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on April 8, 2022.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

 

Paris Saint-Germain remain hopeful that Kylian Mbappe will sign a new contract to stay at the club with just eight games left this season before his existing deal expires.

Despite all the speculation that he will join Real Madrid as a free agent, the France superstar has insisted that his mind is not yet made up between moving to the Spanish capital and remaining in Paris.

“I haven’t made my choice. I haven’t taken my decision, I’m thinking it over, there are new elements and there are loads of factors,” Mbappe said last weekend after two goals and a hat-trick of assists in a 5-1 demolition of Lorient.

It was the latest world-class display from the 23-year-old who has scored 28 goals this season in all competitions and is Ligue 1’s top assist-provider with 13.

Amid rumours about the astronomical sums that PSG are prepared to offer Mbappe to stay, along with perhaps the captain’s armband and a say in transfer policy, there was good news for the Qatar-owned club from UEFA this week.

European football’s governing body announced new regulations to replace its existing financial fair play rules, but said a cap that limits spending on wages and transfers to 70 percent of total revenues will not come in until 2025.

Meanwhile clubs will be allowed to report losses of 60 million euros ($65.5m) over three years rather than 30 million euros previously, all of which appears to offer PSG more room to break the bank for their star player.

“Kylian will give a better answer than me, but PSG and me as coach all want the best for Kylian and the best for the club,” boss Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday ahead of his team’s trip to relegation-threatened Clermont.

“We think the best thing for the club is that Kylian stays.”

Pochettino added that Mbappe could be given the armband in Clermont with regular skipper Marquinhos rested following the birth of his daughter during the week.

The Brazilian’s absence could also open the door for Sergio Ramos to make a rare start in an injury-plagued season.

All PSG have left to play for in an anti-climactic end to the season is making sure they wrap up the title.

They are 12 points clear of Marseille with eight games left and host their bitter rivals next weekend and so should have an eighth championship in 10 years secured by the end of the month.

Player to watch: Tete
The 22-year-old Brazilian winger joined Lyon until the end of the season after being allowed to leave Shakhtar Donetsk due to the war in Ukraine. Tete, who played in all six Champions League group games for Shakhtar earlier this season, enjoyed a dream debut for his new club, coming off the bench and scoring with just his third touch against Angers last weekend.

He played the role of super-sub again on Thursday, helping set up the equaliser within two minutes of coming off the bench in Lyon’s 1-1 Europa League draw with West Ham United.

“Tete is a special player who I have known for a long time,” said Lyon coach Peter Bosz after signing the ex-Gremio player who will hope to make an impact again at Strasbourg on Sunday.

Key stats
30 – Kylian Mbappe has scored or set up a total of 30 Ligue 1 goals this season. That is 47 percent of PSG’s overall tally of 64.

18 – The number of goals scored by Ligue 1’s leading marksman, Wissam Ben Yedder of Monaco

5 – The number of points separating the bottom five teams in the table. The bottom two, Bordeaux and Metz, play each other this weekend while Lorient in 16th host 18th-placed Saint-Etienne.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Lorient v Saint-Etienne (1900)

Saturday

Reims v Rennes (1500), Clermont v Paris Saint-Germain (1900)

Sunday

Bordeaux v Metz (1100), Angers v Lille, Brest v Nantes, Monaco v Troyes (all 1300), Lens v Nice (1505), Strasbourg v Lyon (1700), Marseille v Montpellier (1900

Barcelona’s ‘Doors Are Open’ To Messi – Xavi

In this file photo, Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi looks on prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said on Saturday “the doors are open” to Lionel Messi.

Xavi was speaking in a press conference ahead of the Clasico on Sunday when Barca face La Liga leaders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Messi has endured a disappointing season at Paris Saint-Germain although Barca’s dire financial situation would make re-signing the Argentinian difficult.

La Liga’s latest spending restrictions published last week set Barcelona’s limit at -144 million euros ($159 million). It means the club will have to make considerable savings to sign anyone in the next transfer window.

Messi was let go last year because Barca could not afford to renew his contract, bringing an emotional end to the striker’s historic career at Camp Nou.

Asked if he would open the door to Messi coming back, Xavi said: “He is the best player in history and the history of the club, he’s earned the right to have the doors open to him.

READ ALSO: Messi Absent As Monaco Thrash PSG

“As long as I am coach the doors are open to him if he wants to come any day. He is the best in history and as a club we owe him a great tribute, he deserves it, but he has a contract with PSG, so there is little more I can tell you.

“If he wants to come any day, to see training, talk to the coach, the doors are open because he is the best player in the history of the club.”

Without Messi, Barcelona struggled for much of the season but Xavi, who was appointed in November, has overseen a significant upturn in form.

 Real Without Injured Benzema 

Barca sit third, on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League, and will be hopeful of landing a statement victory against Real Madrid, who will be without their star striker Karim Benzema.

Benzema is out with a calf injury and will not be risked, allowing the Frenchman the international break to recover for the run-in and Champions League quarter-finals against Chelsea.

“Tomorrow he can’t play because he hasn’t trained,” said Carlo Ancelotti on Saturday. “He still feels a little discomfort, it’s a small injury, but it won’t let him train and obviously he won’t play either.”

“The fact that he doesn’t play tomorrow doesn’t worry me because it means we will have two weeks to get him ready for the end of the season when he will be very important as always,” Ancelotti added.

Xavi said Benzema’s absence would be a “significant blow” for Real Madrid while confirming that Gerard Pique will be available for Barca.

“He’s fine, he has some minor discomfort, but he’s fine,” said Xavi.

Despite winning their last four consecutive league games, Barcelona are 15 points behind Real Madrid in the table, albeit with a game in hand.

They could overhaul stumbling Sevilla to finish second but a late title charge appears almost impossible.

“We cannot rule Barcelona out, they will fight until the last game,” said Ancelotti.

“Winning the league is unlikely,” said Xavi. “I think will be difficult.”

But there is an opportunity for Barcelona to show they are ready to challenge for the title again under Xavi next season.

“We have grown as a team since I arrived but it doesn’t mean anything, it’s a Clasico and we have to show our personality,” Xavi said.

“It is a chance to show we are in a good moment because we have had good results but tomorrow is another litmus test, to prove that against another big team, we can play and impose our game.”

Xavi added: “Otherwise I know the media and they will say the improvement has not been seen in the most important game of the season.”

AFP

Messi Absent As PSG Suffer Worst Defeat Of The Season

Monaco’s French forward Wissam Ben Yedder (unseen) celebrates with teammates after scoring a penalty during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at the Louis II Stadium (Stade Louis II) in the Principality of Monaco on March 20, 2022. CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain were beaten 3-0 at Monaco on Sunday after a Wissam Ben Yedder double strike, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were both booked in a feisty Ligue 1 encounter. It was the club’s worst defeat this season.

PSG remain 15 points clear of second-placed Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 after the fourth league defeat of the season for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who have been shaken since being dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.

Nice can close the gap to 12 points if they beat Marseille in Sunday’s late Ligue 1 game.

Monaco captain Ben Yedder is now Ligue 1’s top scorer with 18 goals after his 25th-minute tap-in from a rebound, and an 84th-minute penalty.

Ben Yedder also helped in the build-up for German striker Kevin Volland’s goal for Monaco, making it 2-0 on 68 minutes in what was the real turning point of the game as PSG began to chase.

Mbappe and Neymar started for PSG and had a string of opportunities as the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.

READ ALSO: Barcelona’s ‘Doors Are Open’ To Messi – Xavi

Monaco’s German forward Kevin Volland (C) celebrates with Monaco’s French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni (C-R) after scoring the second goal during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at the Louis II Stadium (Stade Louis II) in the Principality of Monaco on March 20, 2022. Valery HACHE / AFP

 

Mbappe said the bitterness of the Champions League defeat earlier this month was still felt at the club.

“We could win 8-0 and nobody would care, they’d just be thinking about the Champions League,” he said.

“We need to remain professional, think of our families,” said Mbappe, who was full of praise for his old club.

“They are a great team, playing in European competition,” said the 23-year-old.

PSG captain Marquinhos described the defeat as a wake-up call.

“If we carry on like that the title will be in danger. We have been warned,” he said.

“We came here to win and have fun, but that was a catastrophe.”

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said it was time his players picked themselves up.

“On a sporting level, that was shameful. We have to get over the disappointment of being eliminated from the Champions League,” the Argentine said.

Monaco’s Belgian coach Philippe Clement can also thank his goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel, who made important saves from Mbappe, Neymar, and the marauding Moroccan Achraf Hakimi.

AFP

Messi Left To Pick Up Pieces At PSG After Jeers And Champions League Failure

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi looks on prior to the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

 

A season that started with such feverish excitement is turning out to be nothing short of a fiasco in Paris for Lionel Messi, who suffered the ignominy of being booed by his own supporters last weekend.

Unhappy Paris Saint-Germain fans targeted the Argentine as well as Neymar during the 3-0 win over Bordeaux that followed the club’s spectacular Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid.

“We understand their disappointment, their feeling of hatred,” admitted PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe.

Adored in Barcelona, from where he made a tearful exit last August, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner suddenly found himself in a position he had never previously experienced during his remarkable club career.

The 34-year-old still has 10 games left with PSG this season, including Sunday’s trip to Monaco, but he could be forgiven for wishing the campaign were already over.

In some respects it is, given PSG have again failed to win the Champions League.

When Messi was unveiled at the Parc des Princes at the start of the season he admitted winning another European Cup was his “dream” and said he felt he was in the “ideal place” to do it.

It was not to be, at least this season, and Messi will be 35 by the time the next campaign begins. Instead all he can look forward to for now is winning the Ligue 1 title.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team are currently 15 points clear of Marseille and Nice, and surely PSG cannot throw that advantage away.

In any case, reclaiming the domestic title will be a very hollow victory for a club who enjoy such an enormous financial advantage over their rivals — Messi’s salary alone is reported to be around 30 million euros ($33.4m) net in his first season in Paris.

The player who is arguably the best of all time has failed to come remotely close to the form he produced so regularly in Barcelona.

He has just seven goals in all competitions this season, only two of which have come in Ligue 1 — in contrast he scored at least 31 goals in each of his last 13 seasons at the Camp Nou.

A campaign that started late due to his lack of a pre-season was also interrupted in the middle when he tested positive for Covid-19 during a trip back to Argentina.

Messi has therefore missed significant chunks, and the flashes of his genius have been too fleeting.

There has already been speculation in France that he could seek a move away from Paris, but for now he must try to focus on what is left of the season and the remaining games alongside Kylian Mbappe before the France superstar’s expected departure for Real Madrid.

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi kicks the ball during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Girondins de Bordeaux at The Parc des Princes Stadium, in Paris on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

 

Player to watch: Jose FonteAt 38, the veteran Portuguese defender deserves to be singled out for praise. Despite his advancing years, he is the only outfield player to have featured in every minute of every Ligue 1 game this season, 28 matches into the campaign.

Indeed Fonte — a standout in the Lille team that won the title last season — has played every minute of his club’s 39 matches in all competitions, including on their run to the Champions League last 16.

Key stats50 – Mauricio Pochettino is set for his 50th Ligue 1 game in charge of PSG.

7 – The number of points separating reigning champions Lille from the Champions League qualifying places. They were knocked out of this season’s Champions League in midweek by Chelsea.

6 – Six-time French champions Bordeaux have not won any of their last six games and prop up the table, five points away from outright safety.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Saint-Etienne v Troyes (2000)

Saturday

Lens v Clermont (1600), Nantes v Lille (2000)

Sunday

Monaco v Paris Saint-Germain (1200), Angers v Brest, Bordeaux v Montpellier, Lorient v Strasbourg, Rennes v Metz (all 1400), Reims v Lyon (1605), Marseille v Nice (1945)