— Sports

Back to chasing French league for PSG as European dream ends

PARIS (AP) – Another Champions League dream is over for Paris Saint-Germain, and it’s back to the reality of saving its French league title with only three games left. The way PSG’s players lost their composure against Manchester City on Tuesday night shows they remain prone to self-capitulation under pressure, and coach Mauricio Pochettino even had to calm them down at the final whistle.

Now he must get their minds fully focused for Sunday’s game at Rennes as PSG tries to wrestle the championship lead back from Lille. For a while, defending champion PSG has won its past three games to move one point behind Lille, but those wins were hardly convincing. PSG scraped home victories thanks to a goal with just seconds left against Saint-Etienne and a glaring defensive error from Lens.

Neither of those sides took the game to PSG, preferring to play on the counterattack, but it promises to be a different proposition against a slick Rennes side that passes well at speed.

The Rennes players have been transformed under coach Bruno Genesio – the former Lyon manager – and the Brittany club goes for a sixth win in eight games. A lot is at stake, too, with Genesio’s side pushing for fifth place and a Europa League spot after gaining ground on its rivals.

French league

But seventh-place Rennes still needs to make up two points on Marseille and fifth-place Lens, which could do PSG a favor by beating Lille at home on Friday.

Genesio’s side has displayed strong teamwork, which was hardly the case for PSG against City. Players took turns ranting at the referee rather than pulling together as a unit.leading scorer with 200 goals, and veteran defender Thiago Silva, a longstanding captain with 315 club appearances, were not given the contracts they wanted at the end of last season and left.

Both were genuine leaders in attitude and work ethic, yet deemed not to merit more than a one-year offer because of their relatively advanced age.

Those decisions have backfired.

The 36-year-old Silva is through to the Champions League final with Chelsea, coached by Thomas Tuchel, who was fired by PSG mid-season. “Chelsea Dreams Bigger” ran the headline on Thursday’s edition of sports daily L’Equipe, an ironic reference to PSG’s club motto. Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Cavani was well poised to reach the Europa League final with Manchester United later on Thursday.

PSG is pushing Neymar to sign a new contract even though he has not justified the high hopes placed in him and could also leave for free next year, having cost another fortune in wages. He has not scored in seven straight games in the knockout phase of the Champions League, a worrying statistic for a player of spectacular ability who cost a record 222 million euros ($267 million). His underwhelming performances against City underlined hPSG’s dependence on Kylian Mbappe, who missed Tuesday’s return leg with a calf injury.

Verratti and fellow midfielder Ander Herrera are suspended for the holders against Montpellier, one of French soccer’s best midfielders in Teji Savanier and needs to win the competition to reach the Europa League. Pochettino could use Mbappe against Rennes, too, but the France striker is suspended. It is a crucial moment for the club, with a French Cup semifinal away to Montpellier just three days after Rennes.’ PSG’s season could be back on track or hanging by a thread by next week.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button