PSG v Liverpool: From Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, a closer look at PSG

Carl Markham 27/11/2018
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PSG

Big-spending Paris St Germain face the unthinkable prospect of failing to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages as they host Liverpool in the French capital.

We take a closer look at the Ligue 1 champions.

GROUP SITUATION 

Group C is the tightest of them all with all four clubs separated by just two points. PSG are third on five points, one behind leaders Liverpool and Napoli, which means if they were to lose against Jurgen Klopp’s side and their Serie A rivals were to beat Red Star Belgrade they would not be able to progress to the knockout phase. Liverpool will go through if they win and Red Star do not beat Napoli.

FORM

PSG are expected to win Ligue 1 every season but even by their standards the current campaign has been impressive. They broke their own record with a 14th successive league victory from the start of the season against Toulouse at the weekend – without the injured Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. They have conceded just seven goals in that time and scored 46, already leading the table by 15 points. They have scored in every match this season and have found the net at least three times in 13 of their 19 games.

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar

EUROPEAN RECORD 

PSG are seeking to reach the knockout phase for the seventh time. In four of those previous seasons they have lost in the quarter-finals but in the last two campaigns exited in the last 16. In the last seven seasons they have played 40 group games, winning 26, drawing eight and losing six. They have not lost at home in that time, winning 15 with five draws. Only once in those 20 games have they failed to score – against Real Madrid in 2015 – while they have scored 56 and conceded 14. In their last seven Champions League games at home they have scored 28 times.

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

It is not difficult to highlight the forward line of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. The former two trained on Monday and Tuesday and manager Thomas Tuchel said they have recovered from injuries sustained on international duty and both will feature. The trio have scored 36 league goals between them already, sharing six in four Champions League fixtures to date. Midfielder Marco Veratti will give Liverpool something else to think about, having missed the defeat at Anfield through injury.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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UAE possible destination for Copa Libertadores final after reschedule confirmation

Matt Slater 27/11/2018
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The president of the South American football's governing body CONMEBOL Paraguayan Alejandro Dominguez

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate will be played outside Argentina on either December 8 or 9, South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL has announced.

Billed as the biggest club game in South American football history, the second leg was twice delayed on Saturday, postponed until Sunday and then called off following an attack by River Plate fans on the Boca team coach.

With the tie poised at 2-2, Boca players were left injured by shards of broken glass and affected by tear gas, which was fired by police to disperse the crowd outside River Plate’s El Monumental stadium.

It had been hoped that the final of the South American equivalent of the Champions League, the first between Argentina’s most famous clubs, could be completed on Sunday, but Boca asked for another postponement, as some of their players were still suffering from the after-effects of the tear gas.

Having summoned the bosses of the two clubs to CONMEBOL’s headquarters in Paraguay on Tuesday, confederation president Alejandro Dominguez issued a statement to say a decision on whether the game will be played in either two Saturdays’ time or the day after will be made by its disciplinary committee.

The statement did not say where the final would be played, but Dominguez told a press conference afterwards that the game would not take place in Argentina.

Several potential venues have been suggested by the South American media, with Miami, Paraguay’s capital Asuncion and the United Arab Emirates among the possible candidates.

It has also been reported that Boca formally asked CONMEBOL to disqualify River Plate and award them the trophy – a request the confederation has appeared to decline.

Crowd trouble in South American football is hardly new and the two legs of the final were scheduled to be played without away fans, as their safety could not be guaranteed.

But the scenes from the weekend were deeply embarrassing for Argentinian football, particularly as the country hopes to lead a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup with Paraguay and Uruguay, a tournament that England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales would like to host, too.

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Kylian Mbappe and Neymar

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are set to start for Paris Saint-Germain against Liverpool in their crunch Champions League tie on Wednesday after recovering from injuries, coach Thomas Tuchel said.

“They are fit and in form. They are fine. They did a full training session today and yesterday. There is no problem, they will start tomorrow,” Tuchel said at a press conference at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

“If they were not fit they could not play but they did not complain at all yesterday and today, and for me right now there is no risk.”

The two most expensive players in the world came off injured playing for their countries in international friendly matches last week, with Mbappe hurting a shoulder with France and Neymar a groin with Brazil.

Both players have scored 13 goals in all competitions this season, and the injuries caused alarm bells to ring at PSG as they watched Saturday’s tight Ligue 1 win against Toulouse from the stands.

PSG come into Wednesday’s game in third place in Champions League Group C, a point behind both Liverpool and Napoli with two games left.

That means a defeat against last season’s runners-up, coupled with a win for Napoli at home to Red Star Belgrade, and the French champions would be eliminated already from a competition they are desperate to win.

“It is super important that we do no lose focus and think about what could happen,” said Tuchel, who has won all 14 Ligue 1 games in charge since being appointed at the club in the close season.

“We have to play this game relaxed, but at the same time 100 percent focused on what we have to do.

“We cannot control the result, nobody can in football, and for that, no matter what the result is, the sun will shine the next day again and we will have to get up out of bed and go to work, whether in a better mood or a not so good mood.

“It is sport, and we are looking forward to this challenge.”

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