France: Ranieri, Monaco get the result they want at Paris Saint-Germain

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He wouldn’t have admitted it before the match out fear of tipping his hand, but if you’d asked Claudio Ranieri before today’s kickoff at the Parc de Princes, he would have been happy with this result. In fact, part of him would have been playing for it, setting up his team to prioritize organization over endeavor as they tried to get a point out of Paris. And with Radamel Falcao’s 20th minute equalizer holding up after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s early opener, the AS Monaco coach got the result he’d have wanted. PSG were held to a 1-1 draw.

“I’m very satisfied with my players,” Ranieri told media after the match. “PSG have a lot of quality players and they have more experience than us. We have a lot of young players and we were up against a team with a lot of big champions.”

In short: They were the worse team. At least, on paper they were, something they’ll be able to say only one other time this season (when PSG visits them). Monaco may have came into the match at the top of the league (4-0-1), and they may have spent $230 million in transfer fees this summer, but player-for-player, they’re still not a match for PSG. Particularly at the Parc de Princes.

That’s why Laurent Blanc may have been particularly disappointed in the result, quick to lean on the tried-and-ture “deserved to win” line in the face of a result where his team dropped points.

“Given the amount of chances we had I think we deserved to win,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “It was a good match and there could have been more goals. What pleased me is that both coaches wanted to win the game.”

Perhaps in the academic sense both coaches wanted to win the game, but the teams only combined for six shots (four for Monaco). Monaco were clearly willing to wait for their chances to materialize, holding only 42 percent of the ball, so the extent to which Ranieri wanted to win, he wasn’t willing to open up his team to do so.

source: Getty Images
Laurent Blanc (left) has his PSG team second in France, 3-0-3 after six rounds. Claudio Ranieri (right) kept Monaco two points clear with Sunday’s draw in Paris. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Coincidentally, that seems to be Laurent Blanc’s M.O. Even with this hyper-talented PSG side, one that pulled away from the pack in Ligue 1 last year, he’s been reluctant to let his talent shine. Much like David Moyes with Manchester United, there is a concern that the tactics that made his Bordeaux teams successful will not translate to a more talented squad that will needs to be more creative offensively to pull apart bunkered defenses.

To this point, Blanc has been unable to do that, leaving last year’s champions with three draws through six games. Despite one of the most talented attacks in the world, PSG has yet to score more than two goals in a Ligue 1 match.

Like Moyes, Blanc is likely to figure things out in time, and to his credit, he is undefeated through six. But Monaco is also undefeated, hinting there may not be much margin for error in this year’s league. And after a draw where they were unable to parlay their huge talents into more than two shots on goal, PSG have dropped points to their principle title rivals.



  • Marseille’s perfect start has faded, leaving them with only one point from their last three games. L’OM drew 0-0 Saturday at Bastia.
  • Saint-Étienne, second coming into the weekend, lost at home to Toulouse on Friday, giving up two second half goals and their 1-0 lead while suffering their second loss of the season.
  • Nice put up four goals in handing visiting Valenciennes their fifth-straight loss, with Dario Cvitanich, Eric Bautheach, Christian Bruls, and Alexy Bosetti getting on the scoresheet in les Aiglons’ third win of the season.
  • Fouad Kadir scored in the 13th and 15th minutes as Rennes extended their unbeaten streak to four, moving sixth with their 2-0 win over visiting Ajaccio.
  • Lyon gave up the first goal to Jordan Verevout at Stade Gerland but stormed back with goals from Bafétimbi Gomis, Clément Grenier, and Jimmy Briand in their 3-1 win over Nantes. OL’s 11 goals lead Ligue 1.
  • Lille got two first half goals from striker Nolan Roux in their 2-0 win at last place Sochaux.
  • Lorient and Bordeaux combined for six, with goals by Kévin Monnet-Paquet and Sadio Diallo bringing Christian Gourcuff’s team back from a 3-1 deficit to earn a draw.
  • Evian came back from two down to earn a 2-2 draw with visiting Montpellier, pulling back goals from Victor Hugo Montaño and Reemy Cabella.
  • And Reims overcame a fifth minute own goal from Anthony Weber with Nicolas de Preville’s second half strike, salvaging a 1-1 with visiting Guingamp.

Report: Guardiola to take manager’s job at Man City next season

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Manchester City desperately want to lure Pep Guardiola away from Bayern Munich and pay the Spaniard tactician lots and lots of money to come manage in the Premier League.

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Of course we’ve all heard it before — a number of times, in fact. So, what’s different about the latest report, hitting the headlines very late Thursday night in Europe, linking the 44-year-old to Man City?

Well, apparently, we’ve moved past “Man City will offer Guardiola whatever he wants to come to the Etihad Stadium,” and arrived at “Guardiola has agreed terms to become manager at Man City.”

However, the respected Spanish radio station Cadena COPE is reporting that Guardiola has already decided he would like “a change of scenery” and will succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.

“Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season,” read the report.

“Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany will end on 30 June after three seasons and, therefore, fulfil one of his wishes: to coach in England.”

With all due respect to every player Man City have signed in the last decade, the acquisition of Guardiola would be, by far, their greatest coup to date — a manager with a clear ethos, a clear plan of action and a track record of having succeeded and won in the UEFA Champions League, which remains the most elusive trophy to City’s cabinet.

Mourinho-Costa feud could mean January transfer activity for Chelsea

Diego Costa & Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Perhaps no man in the footballing world has been embroiled in more controversy this season than Jose Mourinho, who remains in charge of Chelsea despite a horrid start to the club’s 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

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The Portuguese mastermind has fallen out with a number of his own players and staff this season, so why not add another name to the growing list? Come on down, Diego Costa, you’re Mourinho’s next combatant.

The two reportedly got into a heated locker-room exchange following Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given Costa’s increasingly poor form all the way back to the final weeks and months of the 2014-15 season — just seven goals scored in the last 10 months — Mourinho is reportedly less and less sure the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard is the right man to lead the line for the reigning PL champions.

The details of Mourinho and Costa’s halftime spat, from the Guardian:

Mourinho, just as he did after a similar situation against Norwich on Saturday, made his frustrations clear at the forward’s lack of anticipation over an Eden Hazard pass, which would have provided the striker with a tap-in had he been on the move. Costa returned his manager’s remonstrations in kind. Oscar and John Terry tried to calm him down only to be pushed aside. The manager subsequently suggested there had been “a few kisses, a few cuddles” in the dressing room at the interval, and “no problem,” though the public show of dissent was notable.

The club’s hierarchy is reportedly considering dipping into the transfer market in January — something they’re extremely loath to do — to replace the misfiring Costa. The names of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie and Saido Berahino are the biggest currently linked with the Blues, given the lack of elite players typically available — as well as not being cup-tied in the Champions League — during the January window.

Chelsea, who currently sit 15th in the PL, return to league action on Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane (Watch live at 6:30 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Wenger expects “hunting lion” Sanchez to be fit for Norwich clash

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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Alexis Sanchez is, by regular human standards, questionable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on Live Extra), thanks to a tweak to his hamstring during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

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There’s just one problem with the above premise: Sanchez, according to manager Arsene Wenger, isn’t exactly human; he’s more like a lion, says Wenger — a hunting lion chasing after and feasting on its prey.

Wenger, on Sanchez’s ability to recover quickly and star for the Gunners — quotes from the Guardian:

“When he does something, he does it 100%. He finishes and you think: ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100% again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not [that], because two days later, he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive, it’s a very committed style. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. When they go, they go. They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, he’s dead [on his feet] afterwards. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after, they have to stop.”

“I take information, especially from the medical people who know him and treat him everyday and after, we look at his overall recovery as well. When there are alarming signs, we want to make the right decision at the right moment but as long as the guys are confident, they score goals – it is always difficult to rest them.”

Sanchez’s production this season — 9 goals, 4 assists in 17 appearances – all competitions — is right on par with his spectacular debut in the PL last season. “What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America to play,” Wenger went on to say. “He comes back on Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged.”

Expect Sanchez to feature on Sunday, and probably to score a goal or two, as well.

“Unprofessional” Grealish banished to U-21s after nightclub incident

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC
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2015 has been an eventful calendar year for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, to say the least.

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First, there was his emergence as a prominent first-team player for his boyhood club; followed by the Villans’ run to the FA Cup final in May; then came the England-versus-Ireland tug-of-war for his international services; a forgettable vacation to Spain for the 20-year-old; and another managerial change at Villa Park. After yet another off-field incident last weekend, in which Grealish was photographed in a nightclub hours after a 4-0 defeat to Everton, his new manager, Remi Garde, has labeled Grealish “unprofessional” and sent him away to train with the club’s U-21 side.

Garde, on Grealish’s actions and subsequent punishment — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is not professional. It is not what is expected from my players. That is why now Jack is training with the under-21 team for the moment. He won’t be included in the squad for Watford. At this stage he is not playing this weekend and he is training with the under-21 team. That is all I can say for the moment.”

“Sometimes players in every country ask to stay in the city we have played in and this is not a problem for me, it happens one or two times a season. The problem with Jack was not that he wasn’t on the bus. The problem was elsewhere.”

Villa, who will welcome 13th-place Watford to Villa Park on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), currently sit rock bottom in the Premier League (5 points from 13 games), five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.