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Neymar finish has PSG leading Liverpool at half (video)

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Paris Saint-Germain’s quest for revenge against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League got off to a flying start.

The Ligue 1 giants have brought their 14-0 league form to the UCL, with a pair of goals in the first 36 minutes putting them ahead before the Reds nabbed a stoppage time penalty kick through James Milner (of course).

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PSG opened the scoring through Juan Bernat’s sweet low shot across his body, but the big names teamed up to make it 2-0.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe led the break down the left of the pitch. The French striker crossed for Edinson Cavani, whose doorstep attempted was saved by Alisson Becker.

That ball went right to Neymar, though, who doubled PSG’s advantage 10 minutes before Sadio Mane won the penalty for Liverpool.

Champions League preview: Liverpool, Spurs face giants

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The Champions League could have 15 of 16 knockout round berths decided by the conclusion of Wednesday’s matches, though Tottenham Hotspur is certainly hoping that’s not the case.

Spurs host Inter Milan in a must-win match at Wembley Stadium, having lost at the San Siro on the second match day. Spurs are three points behind Inter in Group B, six behind Barcelona, and the first tiebreaker is head-to-head results.

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Mauricio Pochettino is striking all the right notes as Spurs hope to build on a masterful victory over Chelsea on Saturday. From Spurs’ official site:

“The most important thing is to try to replicate the same performance and attitude that we had against Chelsea. We have no excuse not to behave or perform in the same way and with the same attitude.

“We know very well that it’s not easy to play every single game in your best way but with the right attitude, everything is possible. It should be a good example to keep going, to be consistent and it’s clear that playing that way we can achieve the things we want.”

Liverpool cannot be eliminated on Wednesday, but Jurgen Klopp‘s men can advance to the knockout rounds with a defeat of Paris Saint-Germain.

Yet a win is doubly important at the Parc des Princes; Not only would it mean that PSG cannot catch the Reds in Group C, it would open the door to equal footing with Manchester United the next match week.

The Red Devils head to Anfield on Dec. 16, four days after their final group stage match, but Manchester United knows it’s on to the next round and could only win Group H with a win and an unlikely Juventus loss to Young Boys in Switzerland.

Liverpool will have something big to play for in its midweek match against Napoli. It’ll either be for Group H, or the second spot in the group. But the former is obviously preferable to the latter, and Klopp may prioritize the league to being a seeded team for the knockout rounds.

Then again, there’s little need for motivation. This is the Champions League, in Paris, against star-studded PSG. Here is Klopp:

“We are here, we didn’t ever think negatively about it, we were looking forward to the game in Paris. We don’t play here very often and it’s a big task. It’s just really exciting and the more difficult it is, the more I enjoy the preparation because you have to think about pretty much everything: how to defend this and that, how to avoid this and that, and how to play football yourself because that’s the most important thing.

“It is a thing Paris is not used to that much in the league because they are so dominant – we have to make sure that they are not that dominant against us. When we have our possession we [have to] do something smart with that. That’s all in two training sessions, actually one, today. The weather was not too good in Liverpool but the boys were 100 per cent focused for 60, 70 minutes on the pitch, fully concentrated and hopefully you can see that tomorrow night.”

Full Wednesday slate

Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Galatasaray — 12:55 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs. AS Monaco — 12:55 p.m. ET
Borussia Dortmund vs. Club Brugge — 3 p.m. ET
PSG vs. Liverpool — 3 p.m. ET
Napoli vs. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
PSV Eindhoven vs. Barcelona — 3 p.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Inter Milan — 3 p.m. ET
Porto vs. Schalke — 3 p.m. ET

Silva says Liverpool loss “changed our mentality” as PSG aims for home win

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Paris Saint-Germain, like Man City, has lost just once this season.

A perfect 14-0 in Ligue 1, PSG lost to Liverpool and twice drew Napoli in the UEFA Champions League.

[ REPORT: Steffen to Man City ]

That puts Thomas Tuchel behind the 8-ball, as PSG’s ambitions are as focused on the UCL as any club outside of Real Madrid.

Now Liverpool’s next, this time at the Parc des Princes, and Thiago Silva says it isn’t about revenge but about survival. From eng.psg.fr:

“I think that match changed our mentality. After that, we showed more concentration, more aggression and we have had more possession since then. In the Champions League, the little details make the difference. In the first leg, conceding that goal in the final seconds was a real shame because we’d played well in the second half. We deserved to equalize and that third goal really hurt.

“But we are not looking for revenge, but it will be a decisive match. Victory will put us in a very strong position. We never know what can happen in these matches. We saw Liverpool lose in Belgrade. We recorded a big win over Red Star in the first meeting. We have to be well-prepared.”

PSG are favored to get a result at home, but will be expecting more if Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are fit to pay following injuries that kept them out of the weekend’s league win. Both stars trained on Monday.

PSG’s Neymar, Mbappe injured on international duty

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Not a banner day for Paris Saint-Germain.

Both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were injured on international duty Tuesday, the effects of which remain to be seen for the Ligue 1 club (Perhaps it could be an opening for American attacker Tim Weah, or a huge opening for Liverpool as the Reds prepare to face PSG in the Champions League).

[ USMNT: Player ratings | 3 things ]

A 1v1 challenge with Uruguay goalkeeper Martin Campana felled the 19-year-old Mbappe, and France coach Didier Deschamps did not have a decent prognosis.

From the BBC:

“He has a sore shoulder, he’s fallen badly. He will have to see with the medical staff. I hope it’s not bad.”

As for Neymar, he suffered “an adductor injury while taking a shot in the sixth minute, and left Brazil’s friendly against Cameroon in England.

Let’s throw it to the most quoted national team doctor in ProSoccerTalk history, Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar:

“He felt discomfort. He will need a bit more time to evaluate it and take a scan, but in principle it is not a serious injury.”

PSG says it was not aware scouts were racially profiling

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain says it was not aware some club scouts outside the capital were secretly and illegally profiling potential young recruits with lists containing their ethnic origins.

PSG acknowledged that forms with “illegal content were used between 2013 and 2018”, but declined responsibility for implementing the policy.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

Speaking of his shock at hearing of the list, although acknowledging it existed, PSG deputy CEO Jean-Claude Blanc told of his outrage and pledged to get to the bottom of what had happened after an internal investigation was launched by the club last month.

“That we’re having to defend ourselves or justify ourselves on this subject now, with regards to unacceptable profiling, is a feeling of betrayal,” Blanc told The Associated Press in an interview at PSG’s office.

“Ethnic profiling made by a certain number of individuals in a recruitment cell outside of Paris is absolutely unacceptable and against our values. It doesn’t exclude the fact it happened.

“Our responsibility, in addition to shedding all the light on why it happened, will be to take measures to ensure it never happens again.”

Blanc told The AP a total of six players, spotted by the network outside Paris, were recruited to PSG’s youth academy based on profiling criteria.

He repeated that neither he, nor any other member of management, knew such lists had been compiled by cells working independently of the club’s knowledge.

According to a report from the Mediapart news website earlier Thursday, PSG’s non-Paris based scouts listed ethnic origins of potential recruits.

Mediapart and French TV program “Envoye Special” said a young black player was overlooked by PSG because of color.

Following an investigation based on the “Football Leaks” documents, Mediapart alleged 17-year-old midfielder Yann Gboho, who plays for France’s under-18s, was disregarded by PSG when he was 13, and the club’s management decided to cover up “those implicated in the scandal.”

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PSG confirmed in a statement Thursday that forms with such illegal content relating to ethnicity were used by the department responsible for player scouting outside the Paris region.

The club launched an investigation after being made aware, by media consortium EIC, of the scouting files last month.

“They existed. These ethnic parameters were introduced through the individual incentive of this small group of scouts who operated outside of Paris, who operated in a closed circuit. We were not aware of this,” Blanc explained. “It happened and it’s unacceptable. We are all shocked at the club.”

PSG has pledged to implement a code of conduct to reaffirm values and ethical practices, and to set up an ethical alert procedure to help prevent a repeat.

Blanc said the internal investigation will be conducted by external lawyers in the presence of a compliance officer.

French law prohibits the collection of personal data that shows the racial or ethnic origins of individuals.

French Sports minister Roxana Maracineanu expressed her “dismay” at the revelations.

“If these acts of discrimination are proven, they are punishable by disciplinary or even penal sanctions,” she said. “We cannot tolerate people being identified, recruited, according to the skin color or their origin.”

Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the French soccer league, added: “Such practices are unacceptable and illegal.”

According to a document obtained by Mediapart, PSG scout Serge Fournier had given Gboho excellent ratings, yet he was overlooked.

Fournier told Mediapart that PSG did not want scouts to recruit “players born in Africa, because one is never certain about their dates of birth.”

Mediapart also obtained documents from a meeting held in 2014 during which Marc Westerloppe, then in charge of PSG player recruiting outside the Paris area, said: “There is a problem on the orientation of the club, a balance is needed on the mixing, too many West Indians and Africans around Paris.”

Blanc said he knew of what he called the “extremely ambiguous” comments made by Westerloppe during one meeting, comments for which Westerloppe was summoned by the club.

“We asked him to explain and justify himself, which he did and we judged at the time – without knowing about the existence of the profiling and the ethnic criteria – his explanations as acceptable,” Blanc told The AP. “So we didn’t take any sanction against him, but we explicitly reminded him as to have no ambiguity with regards to the recruitment of youngsters.”

Asked why Westerloppe was not dismissed, Blanc replied: “Labor law does not allow you to fire someone just for making an ambiguous comment during a meeting … We didn’t have sufficient elements in hand to fire him three years ago. The existence of the lists was not known.”

Although PSG had not planned to speak directly with Gboho, who is now with first division Rennes, Blanc says discussions could take place.

“I think we’ll meet this young player at some point in the next few weeks,” Blanc said. “We’ll see if we meet him as part of the internal inquiry. For now it’s not planned.”

Olivier Letang, PSG’s sporting director at the time of the aforementioned lists, is now president of Rennes. He hired Westerloppe in January. Gboho signed professional forms this year.

Seven years ago, French soccer was rocked by revelations from Mediapart that then-national team coach Laurent Blanc and others discussed informal quotas limiting black and Arab youth players’ involvement in the national squad.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports