Posts Tagged ‘Paris Saint-Germain’
I put on my posh podcast voice to speak to Sportsnet’s Soccer Central podcast about Laurent Blanc’s winning formula at Paris Saint-Germain, Olivier Giroud and Arsenal, Frank Lampard and Chelsea, and David Moyes’s tactical conundrums at Manchester United. You can listen here.
“Sporting the captain’s armband for Paris Saint-Germain, Sakho conceded a penalty with a rash sliding challenge on an opposition forward in the 71st minute of a French Cup tie at Lorient’s Stade du Moustoir. Worse, PSG were playing Saint-Colomban Locminé, an amateur team from the French fifth tier, who promptly equalised from the resulting penalty. Worse still, Sakho was making his first appearance under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, who had succeeded Antoine Kombouaré just 10 days earlier.”
I’ve written a piece for AFP on why things fell apart for Mamadou Sakho at Paris Saint-Germain, and you can read it – should you wish – here.
Having waited 19 years and 13 days to reacquaint themselves with the rarefied air at the summit of French football, Paris Saint-Germain were rather dismayed to see their Ligue 1 title celebrations unravel into a sorry mess in the space of barely a week.
Twenty-four hours after a 1-0 win at Lyon on May 12 gave PSG their first title since 1994, supporters clashed with riot police at Paris’ Place du Trocadéro (scene of Zlatan Ibrahimović’s glitzy unveiling the previous summer) and plans for a triumphant trophy presentation at the Hôtel de Ville were shelved. PSG were quick to condemn the “few hundred troublemakers” responsible for the violence, but the title euphoria dissipated further as Carlo Ancelotti abruptly announced his desire to leave the club for Real Madrid.
Sporting director Leonardo then had his suspension for shoving referee Alexandre Castro increased from nine to 13 months, while an initial lack of transfer activity was compounded by a glut of headline-grabbing arrivals at newly promoted Monaco, as well as media reports linking Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva with moves away from Parc des Princes.
The sense of flux was heightened by the unexpected string of rejections that PSG had to wade through before finally appointing a successor to Ancelotti. No fewer than six coaches – José Mourinho, Arsène Wenger, Fabio Capello, Guus Hiddink, André Villas-Boas and Frank Rijkaard – were reported to have rebuffed the French champions’ advances, before former France coach Laurent Blanc eventually took the plunge following a year out of the game.
“As in all the great rivalries, much of Marseille’s sense of identity is derived from their fierce opposition to everything PSG, and the events of the last year or so have only served to make the distinction between the clubs clearer. If PSG are the nouveau riche aristocrats, OM have become the sooty-faced street urchins, scrapping and scheming for everything they can get. In André-Pierre Gignac, the striker no-one wanted, who matched [Zlatan] Ibrahimović’s brace at Stade Vélodrome, they have a fittingly unglamorous figurehead for their resistance to the billionaires from Paris.”
My latest Pitchside Europe column for Eurosport, on how Marseille exposed the shortcomings in Paris Saint-Germain’s star-studded squad, can be read here.
“PARIS — André-Pierre Gignac matched Zlatan Ibrahimović goal for goal to earn Marseille a 2-2 draw at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday and keep OM three points clear of their arch rivals at the top of Ligue 1.”
My AFP match report on how André-Pierre Gignac and Zlatan Ibrahimović upstaged Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (OK, nearly upstaged) in Sunday’s night Classique at Stade Vélodrome can be read here.
“PARIS — Last season’s Ligue 1 top two, Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain, are still awaiting their first wins this term after adverse results on Sunday left both teams in the bottom half of the table.”
My AFP report on the third weekend of the Ligue 1 season, which ended with Marseille on top of the pile after yet more early-season woe for Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain, can be read here.
“PARIS — A dramatic injury-time goal from Karim Aït-Fana gave Montpellier a 1-0 win over Lille on Sunday that took the Ligue 1 leaders to within a point of their first ever French league title.”
My AFP report on Sunday’s penultimate round of Ligue 1 matches, which saw Auxerre relegated and Montpellier take a giant stride closer to the title, can be read here.
“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain reinvigorated their Ligue 1 title challenge by winning 2-0 at home to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, cutting Montpellier’s lead at the top of the table to three points with three games to play.”
My AFP report on Wednesday’s Ligue 1 matches, which saw PSG breathe new life into the title race, can be found here.
“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain closed to within two points of Ligue 1 leaders Montpellier by overwhelming second-bottom Sochaux 6-1 at a sun-splashed Parc des Princes on Sunday.”
My AFP round-up of the weekend’s Ligue 1 action, including a stirring comeback by Lyon that kept their faint hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive, can be read here.
“Olivier Giroud and his team-mates have only recently begun to discuss the title as a realistic objective but they are starting to enjoy their role as the unwelcome thorn in PSG’s side. At a recent conference about the future of French football, PSG sporting director Leonardo sparked controversy by accusing his club’s domestic rivals of devoting all their training sessions to “toros [piggy in the middle] and shots at goal”. When asked how his side had prepared for the game against Sochaux, Montpellier coach René Girard smiled and replied: “By doing toros all week.” PSG may loom large in Montpellier’s rear-view mirror, but they are clearly not the intimidating sight that Leonardo would like to think.”
My latest Pitchside Europe article for Eurosport, on how Montpellier are continuing to set the pace in the Ligue 1 title race, can be read here.
“PARIS — An injury-time winner from substitute Kévin Gameiro earned Paris Saint-Germain a narrow 2-1 victory at third-bottom Dijon on Sunday that preserved their place at the top of the Ligue 1 table.”
My AFP report on how PSG (just) kept their noses in front of Montpellier in the Ligue 1 title race, including a round-up of all the weekend’s main headlines, can be read here.
“PARIS — Ligue 1 title favourites Paris Saint-Germain returned to the top of the table after overwhelming third-bottom Ajaccio 4-1 at a rain-soaked Parc des Princes on Sunday.”
My AFP report on PSG’s return to the Ligue 1 summit, including a summary of all the weekend’s major stories in the French top flight, can be read here.
“PARIS — Montpellier proved their Ligue 1 title credentials by holding league leaders Paris Saint-Germain to a 2-2 draw in the top-of-the-table clash at Parc des Princes on Sunday.”
My AFP match report on Montpellier’s impressive draw at PSG, which contains a round-up of all the Ligue 1 headlines from the weekend, can be read here.
“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain inched a point clear in Ligue 1 on Sunday following a 0-0 draw at Nice, after Ludovic Obraniak had netted a 93rd-minute winner for Bordeaux in an extraordinary 5-4 win at his former club Lille.”
My AFP round-up of the weekend’s matches in Ligue 1, including an astonishing nine-goal game at Lille and another match-changing performance by Olivier Giroud, can be read here.
The clue was in the number. “A press conference will take place on Wednesday 1 February at 15:30 at Parc des Princes to present Thiago Motta, who will wear the number 28,” read the brief statement released by Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. Motta is a European champion and an Italy international, who cost the not insignificant sum of €10 million, but he was not the star signing that PSG had been hoping to announce on the final day of the transfer window. To paraphrase Garry Cook’s famous remark about Richard Dunne, he doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in Beijing.
There are vacant numbers in the current PSG squad list that could have adorned replica shirts liable to be torn off the rails in the club shop. Alexandre Pato might have chosen the number 11 shirt that he wore at Internacional and has sported at times for Brazil. The number eight that Kaká wears for Real Madrid is also unattributed. With Jérémy Ménez in possession of the number seven shirt and Mohamed Sissoko the number 23, David Beckham had been lined up for the number 32 jersey. After the Englishman’s abrupt volte-face, that shirt was earmarked for Carlos Tevez. But neither he, nor Beckham, nor Kaká, nor Pato will be seen in PSG’s iconic strip this season.
PSG made four signings in January – with Motta following Maxwell, Alex and new fourth-choice goalkeeper Ronan Le Crom through the door – but none of them were the marquee names that had held the local media in a state of permanent breathless excitement since the transfer window loomed onto the horizon in mid-December. Although Motta was relinquished reluctantly by Internazionale, Chelsea were quite happy to cede Alex and Maxwell left Barcelona with little fanfare.
There are few more glamorous locations than Paris and few clubs in the world capable of matching PSG’s huge spending power, but Ligue 1′s low international profile – coupled with the absence of European football at Parc des Princes in the second half of the season – has frustrated the club’s efforts to attract the kind of players who generate global interest.