Alphonse Areola

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Tuchel says Areola will start over Buffon at PSG

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When Gianluigi Buffon signed with Paris Saint-Germain, it seemed like Alphonse Areola would need a new home in order to further develop as a future French national team backstop.

[ MORE: Rabiot in demand ]

Three matches into the season, Areola got his chance to overtake Buffon and the 25-year-old is yet to look back.

Thomas Tuchel’s seen enough, at least for now. From RMC Sport in France:

“Yes, I chose,” Tuchel said. “The decision is not final but I told Alphonse that he was in my opinion in pole position to be No. 1. He comes from the academy. PSG means everything to him, and he absolutely wants to prove himself to PSG. This is a situation that must be respected and on which we have to capitalize. We must have players of this nature, we need this type of player who have the soul of PSG, who embody the club.”

Areola’s taken the long road to this post, having been loaned to Lens, Bastia, and Villarreal. Twice-capped for France, he won the World Cup as Hugo Lloris‘ deputy this summer.

And Chelsea’s goalkeeping coach, Christophe Lollicon, says he’s better than Lloris (not that a Chelsea man would dig at Spurs…) From HITC:

“People live in a dream world when it comes to Lloris a bit too much, but for me Areola is above. Against Germany, he was positionally very good and in his ability to come out. It’s the basis of all goalkeepers, but not everyone does it well. He’s pro-active in his anticipation.”

Buffon’s pretty good, so the situation could change at any time but Areola would have to open the door.

PSG to start Areola over Buffon in next 2 Ligue 1 matches

Associated Press
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Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel has announced that he will start Alphonse Areola over Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon in the club’s next two Ligue 1 matches in a bid to get the Frenchman some game time.

Tuchel confirmed that Buffon has not been dropped, and the move is instead to give Areola playing time, with his last competitive minutes coming at the end of last season. Areola was with the French World Cup squad this summer, but did not appear as Hugo Lloris played every minute of the tournament.

“Alphonse will play against Angers and Nimes,” Tuchel said during his pre-match press conference. “After that, we will see. We think it’s important for Alphonse to play. His last match was in May. He must play.”

As Tuchel said, Areola will suit up against Angers at home on Saturday, and then against Nimes on the road the following weekend. PSG’s next match is against St. Etienne at home on September 15th, followed by a visit to Stade Rennais on September 22nd.

40-year-old Buffon, who signed a one-year deal this summer after the expiry of his Juventus contract, played throughout much of preseason and was in goal as PSG took care of Monaco 4-0 in the Trophee de Champions on August 4th. He also has played all of PSG’s first two league matches of the season, earning wins against both Caen and Guingamp and conceding just one goal.

“Gigi had three exceptional, magnificent matches. I do not like leaving him out. I do not like making long-term decisions. It is important during this preparatory stage that Alphonse adapts to the team. I like complicated decisions. I must make a choice. I like that.”

The odd man out of the goalkeeping mix at Parc des Princes seems to be 28-year-old German Kevin Trapp, who PSG’s starter for two seasons in 2015/16 and 2016/17 but lost his job last season to Areola.

While PSG has won the title, Areola’s playing for his future

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PARIS (AP) Although Paris Saint-Germain has easily won the French title, Alphonse Areola still has plenty to play for.

The next four games could be crucial in deciding whether PSG keeps the goalkeeper or tries to sign a big name in the transfer window, possibly Thibaut Courtois. The 25-year-old Areola is the same age as Courtois, but has nowhere near the international standing of the Chelsea keeper.

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It is hard for Areola to stand out, however, in a team noted almost singularly for its attacking prowess. While PSG has already scored more than 100 league goals, and remains on course to reach 100 points this season, Areola has rarely been talked about.

The common perception is that PSG will thrash teams in the French league, so letting in a goal or two is irrelevant.

However, Areola has been one of PSG’s most consistent players this season, and last Sunday he made a personal record of eight saves in a 1-0 win at Bordeaux.

He was also one of the few PSG players to come through the loss to Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League with any credit. Without Areola’s shot-stopping, and particularly his bravery rushing off his line, the 5-2 aggregate loss would have been bigger.

With 104 goals, PSG’s attack is the best in the league by far and has netted 25 more than deposed champion Monaco.

But PSG’s defense is also the best and Areola has conceded only 21 goals in the 31 he has played. Although PSG has dominated most of those, losing only twice all season, he has still made on average four saves per game.

Having replaced Kevin Trapp as No. 1, Areola has missed only three league games all season. It represents a reversal for both.

When Trapp was signed by former coach Laurent Blanc in 2015-16, Areola went on loan to Spanish club Villarreal. He established himself as regular in Villarreal’s side and gained further experience in the Europa League. Spanish media were largely impressed by his consistency and his agility on the goal-line.

He returned to PSG and battled with Trapp for the starting position last season. But coach Unai Emery seemed unsure who he really preferred, with Trapp starting 24 games to Areola’s 14. PSG ended up losing the title to Monaco.

But the hierarchy is much clearer now and the error-prone Trapp, once hailed by Blanc for his passing out from goal, is the one expected to leave.

Areola has further incentive to do well with the World Cup coming up. He is challenging Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to be France’s No. 2 behind Hugo Lloris in Russia. For now, Areola is a squad member but has yet to make an international appearance under coach Didier Deschamps.

But he has done well at every level for France, starting with the under-16s a decade ago. He got his first taste of international success when he helped France win the Under-20 World Cup in 2013.

While Paul Pogba was one of the stars of the tournament, Areola’s crowning moment came in the final itself. France drew 0-0 with Uruguay and he saved two shots in the penalty shootout. Prior to the shootout he had a word with France’s designated penalty takers, confidently telling them “do your job and I’ll do mine.”

With Emery almost certain to be replaced next season, it promises to be a frenetic offseason of buying and selling at the club.

But whoever replaces Emery should perhaps think twice before letting Areola leave. The Parisian-born Areola came through the youth ranks at PSG, as did center half Presnel Kimpembe and midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

Star-studded sides like PSG often import their best players and fans are happy to see them arrive, because it shows ambition. But they nevertheless identify more closely with homegrown talents such as Areola.

More AP Ligue 1 coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/Ligue1

Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Ronaldo brace leads Real comeback vs. PSG

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored in each half to lead Real Madrid to a 3-1 first leg win over visiting Paris Saint-Germain in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Marco Asensio had two assists in five minutes, on Ronaldo’s second and a Marcelo marker.

Adrien Rabiot scored for PSG to give Les Parisiens an early lead and an away goal, but Toni Kroos was dropped in the box to give Ronaldo his chance to level the score.

The second leg is March 6 at the Parc des Princes.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Zidane had Real Madrid pressing the ball from the opening kickoff, leading to a series of chances and high-volume challenges in the first five minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo whistled a shot wide of goal, Marquinhos made a timely intervention on Marcelo, and Toni Kroos had a penalty shout denied before PSG made its first attempt on goal through Yuri Berchiche.

Rabiot finished when fine work from Kylian Mbappe from the right bounded off a defender and into his path. His curled shot from 12 yards missed Nacho’s head and Keylor Navas’ left glove to make it 1-0.

Neymar then cued up Edinson Cavani in traffic, but his shot was deflected out for a corner.

Alphonse Areola made a tremendous save on Karim Benzema, but Kroos won a penalty in driving past Giovani Lo Celso. Ronaldo hammered his effort past Areola to make it 1-1 just before halftime.

Navas stopped Mbappe within minutes of the restart, with PSG aiming for a win with multiple away goals.

Both teams carried play at times in the second half, with goal mouth scrambles standing out in each box. Sergio Ramos made a pivotal block with his arm in the 74th minute. Could’ve been a penalty, not given.

Both Mbappe and Dani Alves couldn’t slide onto a Berchiche cross through the box in the 77th.

The breakthrough came courtesy of Marco Asensio’s cross, which was spilled by Areola onto the path of Ronaldo. The Portuguese megastar reacted to prod the ball in with his knee.

Navas stopped Mbappe to concede a corner in the 89th minute as PSG pushed for a second away goal, but it was Real who’d score again through a near identical Asensio cross from the left for Marcelo.

PSG 1-1 Arsenal: Ospina, Sanchez help Gunners rip draw from Paris

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Alexis Sanchez’ 78th minute equalizer gave visiting Arsenal a point from its UEFA Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

David Ospina‘s sensational second half is perhaps the only reason there wasn’t a massive number under the hosts’ name.

Olivier Giroud was very good as a sub, right until he picked up straight red in stoppage time. Marco Verratti of PSG was dismissed as well.

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Paris Saint-Germain used a very early goal from Edinson Cavani to take the lead, but watched as Arsenal’s backstop thwarted many chances to insure the lead in both teams’ UEFA Champions League openers.

Arsenal next hosts Basel two weeks from Wednesday, while PSG is off to Bulgaria to face Ludogorets on the same day.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

Arsenal went behind in less than a minute, as Cavani turned Serge Aurier’s cross into the goal with his noggin. PSG led 1-0 early, and Cavani missed two other golden chances in the first half to keep Arsenal in it.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Arsenal started the second half with plenty of control and possession, but PSG came closest to scoring.

Angel Di Maria should’ve doubled PSG’s lead in the second half, but took a heavy touch on a ball played over Hector Bellerin‘s head.

David Ospina was the hero when he came sliding out to stop an Aurier break down the right. Moments later, Ospina stopped Cavani 1v1 to keep Arsenal’s hopes alive.

Those hopes were turned into reality when Alphonse Aréola parried Alex Iwobi‘s shot into the path of Alexis Sanchez, who made it 1-1 in the 78th minute.

Aréola would later deny Iwobi with a low lunging parry after Sanchez tried to return the favor with 8 minutes to play.