Thomas Tuchel admits PSG not at best after being held to draw by Strasbourg

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Paris St Germain boss Thomas Tuchel admitted his side were not at their best after being held 1-1 at Ligue 1 rivals Strasbourg.

Edinson Cavani rescued a point for PSG with a second half penalty after Kenny Lala’s spot kick before the break had given Strasbourg a surprise lead.

PSG extended their unbeaten league start to 16 games this season, but they have been held in back-to-back Ligue 1 games since beating Liverpool in the Champions League.

“I cannot expect from my players the same state of mind as against Liverpool,” Tuchel said in his post-match interview.

“We showed a good spirit in Bordeaux (on Sunday) and today we attacked and defended together.”

PSG had spurned a host of chances before Strasbourg took the lead through Lala’s 40th minute penalty.

Defender Thilo Kehrer was adjudged to have handled and after the incident was referred to the video assistant referee, Lala converted into the bottom corner.

PSG went in search of the equaliser in the second half, but met with stubborn resistance before Cavani hauled the visitors level with his 10th league goal of the season after Lala’s foul on Kylian Mbappe.

“Strasbourg knows how to defend en bloc by playing with a lot of quality and with the help of the fans,” Tuchel added.

“We knew Strasbourg would defend very low. They play very hard at home with a great atmosphere in the stadium and our decision-making was too slow.”

PSG now have five days to prepare for their next match, a Champions League tie against Red Star in Belgrade on Tuesday.

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Barcelona 'very happy' with Riqui Puig after teen's instrumental debut against Leonesa

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Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised young substitute Riqui Puig for the maturity he showed in Barcelona’s 4-1 win over Leonesa in the Copa del Rey.

Puig made his senior debut coming off the bench in the second half as Barcelona eased into the next round with a 5-1 aggregate score.

Valverde hopes it will be the first of many games for the Nou Camp side.

“We’re happy with him,” Valverde said in his post-match press conference.

“This is the first step of a long career.

“He is a player who doesn’t hide and who always wants the ball, but you have to be patient with them.

“It was a game in which those with less minutes played. A mixture with players from the B team.

“The opposition didn’t give up even at 3-0 and the atmosphere was great in the stadium.”

Valverde confirmed Malcom, one of Barcelona’s goalscorers on the night, suffered an ankle injury.

The coach said the severity of the injury is unknown, but there is hope it is not a long-term injury.

“He has a sprain,” Valverde said.

“We don’t know how long he’s out for, but he walked off the pitch.

“We’ll have to wait until Thursday, but it’s the ankle that got injured in the summer so he’s a little scared.”

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Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele on the rise in our European Team of the Week

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Domestic football in December started with two rollicking Premier League derbies as Arsenal stormed to victory over Tottenham and Liverpool stole it at the death against Everton.

The likes of Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Barcelona all navigated the weekend safely, while PSG’s 100 per cent Ligue 1 record was finally brought to an end in a draw with Bordeaux.

But which heroes, celebrated and unsung, truly stood out in Europe’s top-five leagues? Find out below …

GK – Kepa (Chelsea)

Chelsea had been waiting for a signature game from Kepa – he did cost them €80 million after all – and the Spaniard supplied it in a 2-0 victory against a Claudio Ranieri-inspired Fulham.

Not only did he keep out Calum Chambers’ point-blank header, but completed 95 per cent of his passes (with 11 of 41 going long) as he helped relieve pressure time and again.

RB – Ricardo Pereira (Leicester)

Leicester may not be competing at the EPL’s top table any more but they have certainly retained a knack for making shrewd moves. Pereira is turning into one of the league’s very best right-backs and delivered a Herculean display in the 2-0 win over Watford that saw him rack up four tackles, three interceptions and an incredible 15 clearances.

CB – Pablo Martinez (Strasbourg)

Winless in four Ligue 1 games, Strasbourg needed to right the ship and Martinez was only too happy to help skipper it. Such was his commitment to the cause he bled for it – taking a gash to the face in the process of winning a penalty, before he marked his first goal for the club with a deft chip in the 4-1 victory over Rennes. Not bad for a centre-back.

CB – Jordan Torunarigha (Hertha Berlin)

Another centre-half just as active in the opposition third as his own. The 21-year-old’s bullet header from a corner – beating two defenders to the ball – set Hertha away at Hannover.

In the second half he then showed off his skill with his feet, lashing in a left-footed cross at the by-line and giving Vedad Ibisevic the simplest of finishes. Goal, assist, clean sheet – that gains you an entry here.

LB – Alex Moreno (Rayo Vallecano)

Everywhere you look Moreno was on the stats sheet against Eibar in a marauding display that brought Rayo just their second victory of the La Liga season.

The left-back chipped in with eight tackles, more than in his four previous games combined, as well as eight clearances and five interceptions. But then to provide a wonderful near-post cross for Adri Embarba to score the winner … the Spaniard deserves the captain’s armband.

CM – Jasmin Kurtic (SPAL)

Kurtic both opened and closed the book on SPAL’s 2-2 draw with Empoli. The rangy Slovenian got proceedings off the mark with a header, and then kept grips on midfield despite team-mate Thiago Cionek’s sending off shortly after the interval, as SPAL threatened to collapse.

However, at 2-1 down, Kurtic used his head once again, directing a wonderful effort full of power and curve into the left-hand corner of the net. A crucial point saved as his side look to stave off the trap door.

CM – Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus)

Perennial Serie A champions Juventus are even better this year and while it’s tempting to put that all down to Cristiano Ronaldo, the evolution of Rodrigo Bentancur is just as stark.

The Uruguayan’s one-two with Paulo Dybala, before being helped out by Ronaldo’s arcing run, split open Fiorentina’s defence and he needed no second invitation to stroke home. It was only one highlight of a 3-0 victory over La Viola in which he both constantly kept and won possession.

CM – Oscar (Leganes)

Oscar is perhaps unlucky to be the only Leganes inclusion in this week’s edition, with Guido Carrillo firing a brace in a 4-2 win at Real Valladolid that saw them pull away from the relegation zone.

Oscar ultimately stood out for his assuredness in such a crucial game at the age of only 20. Along with three key passes – including an assist – the youngster reacted first to a deflection to plant home a diving header. Good news, Real Madrid fans – you’ve only let him go on loan.

RW – Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

It’s not quite time to ditch the ‘mercurial’ tag, but the hot-and-cold winger had moments of blistering form in an otherwise workmanlike Barcelona victory over struggling Villarreal. Even with Lionel Messi on the pitch most of the play went through Dembele, who took the second-most touches behind midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

The winger may never be refined but his electric dribbling and pace, setting up the opener for Gerard Pique, are very rare assets indeed. From unceremoniously dropped to cream of the crop in the space of a month.

ST – Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)

While doubles against basement clubs such as Huesca aren’t going to win anyone a Ballon d’Or, Iago Aspas continues to prove he is one of Europe’s best strikers – even when most people still aren’t paying attention.

His first was a tap-in but in contrast his second was nothing short of divine, haring from his own box on to a loose ball and flummoxing the last man with an audacious back heel around the corner. His finish wasn’t bad, either. That’s now 10 goals in 14 league games.

LW – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s critics had pointed to the fact that despite their fine form under Unai Emery, they still hadn’t beaten anyone of note. How about winning a raucous north London derby?

Making the most noise at the Emirates was Aubameyang, who could not be caught all afternoon by a flat-footed Spurs. His penalty started the pandemonium but it was his first-time finish for the second that took the breath away. Just a striker? Not a bit of it – watch his gorgeous pass for Lucas Torreira that sealed the pulsating 4-2 win.

03 12 European Team of the Week

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