Posts tagged PSG
The Counter Press EP 33

Josh and Vijay chat about all the Champions League matchups, PSG giving up 5 goals to Lille, and the Premier League.

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The Counter Press - You Hate to See It

The Counter Press Boys are joined by Spurs fan @ryne_jones to talk about all things Premier League including Tottenham's list of transfers. We also dive into Champions League matchups along with some Serie A talk.

Follow Vijay on Twitter: @VJVemu
Follow Josh on Twitter: @highbiscuits

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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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The Counter Press EP 24

Happy FIFA Day! Fire up your PS4 and turn The Counter Press up to ignorant levels! Josh and Vijay are back with friend @MindofDharma to talk about the opening month of the soccer season, from Champions League to domestic cup failures in England and a whole lot more!

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2018-19 Ligue 1 power rankings: PSG vs. everyone else

With the European football leagues getting underway this week, The Barber's Chair is taking a look at each of the major soccer leagues across the pond to see how each club stacks up this season.

Ligue 1 Power Rankings

With Ligue 1 set to begin on August 10, we will have one of Europe’s top leagues back in action. The French league will receive more attention as the national team recently won the FIFA World Cup, and with it came the attention of casual fans to less established French stars. Let’s rank which teams have the best chance to be crowned champions this season.

Class 1: Title Contenders

PSG (Paris Saint-Germain)

Source: AFP

Source: AFP

The champions are in a class of their own, winning the league for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Since 2011, the Paris-based squad has been trying to become one of the biggest teams in Europe, and has been relentless in acquiring the best players by paying large transfer fees. Last season’s purchase of Neymar put them in conversation as a destination for top-tier players, and he didn't disappoint, scoring 19 goals in 20 Ligue 1 appearances before his debut season was cut short due to injury.

The World Cup gave further attention to PSG, and it also brought Kylian Mbappe to superstardom. He's only 19 years-old, and his improvement is what can bring PSG closer to competing with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. PSG were able to acquire his rights from Monaco and were also to get a hold of Gianluigi Buffon after the legendary goalkeeper departed with Juventus.

This could be a breakout season for the squad with several players like Mbappe and Presnel Kimpembe now a year older. However, several defenders are aging, so look for PSG to monitor the minutes of Dani Alves and Thiago Silva as they prepare for what they hope to be a long season.

Falcao Moncao 2018 AFP.jpg

Class 2: European qualification spots

Monaco
Lyon
Marsielle

Monaco, Lyon and Marseille are strong enough to challenge PSG for the Ligue 1 crown, but in the end they'll most likely be playing for second place.

Monaco has been the most consistent of the bunch, and the only team to win Ligue 1 in the last six years of PSG dominance. They've been focused on getting younger, acquiring players like Aleksandr Golovin, the Russian star of the World Cup who will be making his debut in a top European league. Other transfer signings like Willem Geubbels, who has plenty of potential at 16, is too young to have a major impact this season. However, Monaco still has Radamel Falcao, one of league’s top strikers.

Lyon and Marsielle are two teams that also made few changes from the previous season. Both made signings that were influenced by focusing on the future. The signings of Duje Caleta-Car for Marsielle and Tanguy Ndombele for Lyon are great for their team's long-term futures, but ultimately leave both squads a bit behind Monaco and a significant gap from PSG this year. Lyon will need Memphis Depay to have another great season to hold off Marsielle, and his development will have them at equal level with Monaco. Marsielle missed out on qualification for the UEFA Champions Leauge this past season, finishing a point behind Lyon. Look for that to be the major focus for Rudi Garcia's squad.

Class 3: Mid table

Rennes
Bordeaux
Nice
Saint-Etienne
Montepellier
Nantes
Dijon
Amiens
Guingamp
Angers

Nice will receive the most attention of the mid-table tier, as former French star Patrick Vieira makes his Ligue 1 managerial debut after managing New York City in MLS. NYCFC made improvements in Vieira's two and a half seasons in the Bronx. In his time there, they were an aggressive and entertaining club to watch as defenders pressed high, similar to Vieira's own style of play.

Source: Getty

Source: Getty

Nantes is another team that made a managerial change with the Portuguese Miguel Cardoso looking to push the squad to a top-five finish. Theosan-Jordan Siebatcheu is a player to watch for Rennes, as he helped Reims receive promotion to Ligue 1 last season. The American-born Frenchman may push to join the United States national team, as he has not made the debut with the senior French squad.

The rest of the teams in this class will need players who are under the radar to have career seasons to catapult themselves to the top. Dijon is the team who has the best chance to improve as they jumped from 16th to 11th in the past two seasons since returning to Ligue 1. They finalized the purchase of Naim Sliti, and will look for Wesley Said to take the next step.

Class 4: Relegation dangers

Lille
Strasbourg
Caen
Nimes
Reims

Lille was once a top-level team in France, but they've suffered a drop in play in recent years. The focus is now on them to avoid relegatio after a large amount of managerial changes. A top-five finish this upcoming season is unlikely, but they will hope for a top-ten finish for the sanity of their fans.

Times could be changing for PSG
FRANCK FIFE/AFP

FRANCK FIFE/AFP

This was supposed to be the year for Paris Saint Germain. This was supposed to be the season where the French giants firmly asserted themselves into the class of Europe’s elite. Along with desperately trying to erase the memories of their historic collapse against Barcelona in the Nou Camp last season, PSG showed even more financial ambition than they have in years past. The plan, from that end, worked. In what was one of the more shocking moves in the history of soccer, PSG landed Brazilian starlet Neymar, convincing him to move from being Leo Messi’s heir to creating his own legend in the Parc de Princes. It was an ambitious move and shattered the world record for transfer fees.

Along with Neymar came his former Barcelona teammate Dani Alves, having made a pit stop at Juventus after ending his long run with the Catalans two seasons ago. Then came an even bigger shocker, they landed one of the best young players in the world on a loan deal in Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe. The young French striker took the world by storm last season, showing out in the Champions League while displaying a deadly combination of blistering pace and smart runs behind the defense to create chances for himself. Mbappe also showed willingness to play on the wing, completing the trio of him, Neymar, and Edinson Cavani. It was a deadly strike force and along with support of players like Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti, Julian Draxler, Adrien Rabiot, and Javier Pastore PSG looked like they could be on the verge of European glory.

But now, those hopes have been dashed. PSG have been eliminated at the hands of the mighty Real Madrid and now all the dreams of this being the year where they compete for a trophy have been dashed. PSG didn’t even reach a semi-final this season, let alone a final. Ever since they were bought by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment back in 2011, PSG have only gone as far as the quarter-finals in the Champions League. It’s been a major disappointment for a club which has spent so much in the name of lifting the trophy in early summer. Now along with having to swallow another bitter pill of a disappointing UCL run, PSG face much uncertainty this summer.

The main problem with the future of the Paris project is if their star will even be playing for them in a couple of years. No matter where he has gone, there always has been controversy surrounding Neymar. From the time he left Brazil to Barcelona to when he moved to Paris. Controversy and scrutiny following the logistics of his transfers have always been talked about. On top of that, his transition to life in Paris hasn’t helped. He has clashed with Cavani on multiple occasions, fighting with the striker over a penalty early in the season. Neymar was also booed by his own fans when taking a penalty against Dijon. It was a 7-0 game in favor of the Parisians and there was a chance they could go up 8-0 with a penalty. The clear choice in the situation was Cavani, who had just tied the club record for most goals in PSG history. Instead of giving the ball to the Uruguayan, Neymar took the penalty and slotted it into the Djion net. The decision was not treated with a warm reception by the PSG fans, who understood the situation clearly. If there ever was an incident which had captured Neymar’s tenure in Paris so far it was the penalty against Dijon. He got the result and the job done but it came with its own set of problems. There are also rumors swirling around about another move on the way for the Brazilian. Rumors of a possible transfer to Real Madrid have made its way all the way to Spain and is raising eyebrows across the world. While it’s certainly a dream move for Los Blancos and one which could be labeled off as far fetched, nobody is ruling it out completely. Because that is exactly what people did with Neymar’s possible move to PSG when he was in Barcelona and we all know how that ended.

Along with the Neymar saga, PSG have also found themselves on the wrong side of youth. In their ambitions to win now, they have looked away from their academy and youth players. Players such as Kingsley Coman and Jean-Kevin Augustin have left for other clubs in hopes of finding more playing time. Sooner or later, it will be time for PSG’s next crop of players to be faced with a tough reality: stay and fight for playing time or go elsewhere. Yes, PSG have found some success from their youth players and parts of their starting XI are from their academy but it’s been few and far between. It’s gotten better over this past year with the insertion of Presnel Kimpembe and Alphonse Areola but PSG still need more youth in the squad. Cavani, Silva, Alves, and Thiago Motta are all over 30, Di Maria just hit that age mark. There are some really aging players on this squad and it’s risky for PSG to keep relying on them for tougher fixtures in the future. Some of these players showed their age against Real Madrid and they were punished over two legs.

You could feel another shakeup in the cards for France’s top club. Players like Silva, Alves, and Motta will surely be phased out in favor of new players. There are questions about the future of guys like Di Maria, Draxler, and Pastore also hang in the balance. This is all without the cloud of Neymar’s future as well. PSG somehow hung on to much of their squad last summer, only selling Blaise Matuidi to make room for Neymar. But it seems like this year will be the one where more than one player leaves. How they plan to prepare for a scenario like this remains to be scene.

This PSG squad was bought to compete in the Champions League. Well at least this was the mantra which has been repeated again and again every season. There is no doubt the QSI have high ambitions for their club and it’s completely justified. They have spent a ton of money in this project and the only real way they achieve relative success is either by winning or reaching the final. It’s all about growing PSG into a big club. But the fruits of the project have not flourished and the pressure is ramping. Again having spent a fortune, PSG are a semi aging squad with a star player who hasn’t fit in 100% to the club. Now they walk into a summer having more questions than answers at the moment.

Champions League takeaways
Reuters

Reuters

We are officially halfway through the Champions League Round of 16 ties and there are a lot of storylines to take away from the chaos. There were blowouts (Man City, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich) and there were some interesting matches (Juve-Spurs, Barca-Chelsea). With the second legs happening next week, the Champions League is beginning to heat up as soccer heads towards one of the best stretches of the season. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest storylines to take away from the eight matches over the course of two weeks.

 

Juve was too conservative and Tottenham made them pay

Alessandro Di Marco/AP Photo

Alessandro Di Marco/AP Photo

Aside from the masterful Spurs performance in the second half, the main takeaway from this game was Juventus losing the plot after starting off the match brilliantly. After the first 10 minutes it seemed like it this tie was already over thanks to a brace by Gonzalo Higuain. It was two mistakes by Spurs and two goals struck in the back of their net. But then Max Allegri decided to have his team sit back and absorb pressure for the rest of the 80 minutes. While it was something Juventus has done in the past, the tactic massively backfired. Even with the threat of the counterattack, Juventus failed to generate any serious chances for the rest of the game. They not only saw their lead get split in half twenty minutes later but they saw Spurs get a crucial away goal thanks to the brilliance of Christian Eriksen. A lot of the problems was Juventus allowed Spurs time on the ball and let the likes of Eriksen and Dembele boss in the midfield. They took advantage of a slower Sami Khedira in the middle and tested the Juventus backline for the entire match.

It’s easy to say in hindsight that this was a bad move but even during the game you see this was a bad move. Especially when he had some playmakers on the pitch such as Douglas Costa, who had a brilliant match, and Higuain. Juventus came out firing and grabbed a strong hold on the tie but then decided to absorb the pressure like a bubble. It blew up in their faces and now they have to go to Wembley and try to beat a red hot Spurs team.

Barcelona show lingering problems

AP

AP

In the first leg of the game of Barcelona vs. Chelsea, the team from London were the better side. They played a near perfect match with Antonio Conte getting the tactics and game plan for this his side to succeed down to a tee. However they made one key error and it led to how it usually does against Leo Messi and Barcelona, with the opposing team picking the ball out of the back of their own net. Other than the blunder it was a near perfect game from Chelsea and they showed how to bottle this Barcelona attack. Messi and company were scraping for space all night and other than the goal, had no real shots on target. At least none which caused any panic from the Blues.

Part of this is the great coaching from Conte and on the flip side, it’s on Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde. He played a more conservative side and probably could have gone with a more attacking side which focused on the wings. By playing his normal squad in Champions League, Valverde set Barca up to be vulnerable down the wings. By giving Chelsea space down the channels, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses had great games and were rock solid defensively.

This sets up for an interesting second leg and one which Barcelona should still be favored in. But given how more conservative Valverde’s Barcelona is compared to different teams in years past, things could get hairy if Chelsea grab one at the Nou Camp.

Mistake by Mourinho and Manchester United

Reuters

Reuters

While Antonio Conte thrived, his Premier League counterpart Jose Mourinho did not. Against La Liga side Sevilla, Manchester United got out shot 25-6 and 8-1 with shots on target. 25 to 6. If not for some amazing reaction saves by David De Gea and Sevilla somehow forgetting how to finish in front of goal, this could have been an ugly result for United.

Some of it goes towards the players with most of the attackers failing to look like threats all night but part of it should also reflect back on Mourinho. Manchester United didn’t come out all aggressive looking for the key away goal to shift the tie their way. They could have gotten one goal quickly and take the air out of the stadium. But instead they decided to sit back and let the game come to them and boy did Sevilla take it to them. They were hoping to just absorb pressure and get a goal while staying compact defensively in their own half. The plan did work in that they didn’t give up any goals but Mourinho’s side didn’t generate anything offensively. This was more on Sevilla not scoring than Manchester United defending.

Zidane made the right moves

Reuters

Reuters

Real Madrid have been horrible in La Liga and the Copa Del Rey but to their credit, they do shine in the Champions League. In a must-win match, Zidane played his cards right and rode his stars to victory. They took advantage of the inexperience of Lo Celso for the first goal and the bad substitutions by Unai Emery for the second and third. For every bad sub Emery made, Zidane made a good one. He brought on the energy boost winger Marco Asensio in exchange for Isco and Lucas Vazquez for Casemiro. They were offensive minded mood and a risk given the scoreline at the time was only 1-1. But Asensio specifically provided the boost Real Madrid needed and next thing you know, Los Blancos were up 3-1 and look to be cruising to a spot in the quarterfinals.