Thomas Tuchel

Associated Press

PSG slide continues with loss to Rennes in Coupe de France final

Leave a comment

Paris Saint-Germain may have won the Ligue 1 title by a wide margin, but the close to their season has been a total disaster, and it took its biggest hit yet on Saturday.

PSG fell to Stade Rennes on penalties in the Coupe de France final after a 2-2 draw, failing to win the competition for the first time since 2014.

The favorites had gone 2-0 up before the half-hour mark on goals from Dani Alves and Neymar, but a Presnel Kimpembe own-goal coming off a Hamari Traore started the comeback just before halftime, and Edson Mexer headed in the equalizer off a 66th minute corner.

A key moment came late in extra time when Kylian Mbappe was sent off for a horrible studs-up challenge into the lower leg of Damien Da Silva, leaving the PSG star unable to participate in the shootout. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola failed to stop any of the six Rennes penalties in the eventual shootout and Christopher Nkunku skied his effort to confirm the result.

After the match, Neymar was caught on camera in an altercation with a Rennes fan as he made his way up the steps during the postmatch presentation, appearing to hit the fan in the face before storming off to follow his teammates. The match was Neymar’s second back from a lengthy injury layoff, and his first since it was confirmed he would be suspended for three future Champions League matches for an Instagram tirade after the club’s elimination a few weeks ago.

The failure to secure the domestic cup is the latest failure in what has been a brutal finish to the season. The slide began when PSG coughed up a 2-0 first-leg lead to fall to Manchester United in the Champions League quarterfinals back in early March. Then, despite a monstrous 20-point lead in the Ligue 1 table, they stumbled down the stretch in league play, stumbling through a three-match winless slide before finally confirming their champion status with a win over Monaco last time out.

Manager Thomas Tuchel, who has come under more fire with every passing slip, said after the loss on Saturday he would need time to think over his future. “It is too early to evaluate the season, Tuchel said after the match. “I need a few days to think. It is a complicated situation.”

PSG signs manager Thomas Tuchel to brand new two-year contract

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to French media publication L’Equipe, Paris Saint-Germain has signed manager Thomas Tuchel to a new two-year contract, keeping him inked through the summer of 2021.

With Tuchel’s previous deal only good through next summer, there were rumors that Jose Mourinho was set to take over the French giants, but Tuchel’s new contract should put that speculation to bed. L’Equipe reports that Tuchel’s new contract replaces the old one, rather than serve as a year extension to the old deal.

The German has proved a polarizing figure in the French capital since arriving this past summer from Borussia Dortmund. Tuchel has not backed down from rifts with players, most notably with midfielder Adrien Rabiot who was frozen out of the team after refusing to sign a contract extension.

While PSG has run away with the Ligue 1 title yet again under Tuchel, leading by 20 points with two months to go, they slumped out of the Champions League in the Round of 16, coughing up a 2-0 first-leg lead to Manchester United, falling 3-1 in the return leg at home. The Champions League has been the bane of PSG’s existence under Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s ownership, wanting desperately to lift his club to the status as one of the best teams in Europe, but they have been consistently bounced early, reaching no further than the quarterfinals in each of the last seven years.

According to L’Equipe, Tuchel’s deal is complete, and he is set to put pen to paper sometime today.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview

AP Photo/Michel Euler
Leave a comment

Two sides hold distinct advantages heading into Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second legs, but we saw how well that worked out for Real Madrid.

Paris Saint-Germain and Roma each bring two goals from the first legs, PSG’s a vital away pair.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Both Wednesday kickoffs are slated for 3 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Paris Saint-Germain v. Manchester United (PSG leads 2-0)

Manchester United is going to need to go into the Parc des Princes and beat a very good PSG team by two goals or better to advance to the quarterfinals.

Red Devils defender Victor Lindelof knows his side will need to score goals without letting Kylian Mbappe run wild, but he also is thinking very much like his boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who continues to tap into the lore of Manchester United. Here’s Lindelof:

“We’re Manchester United, so anything is possible. Of course it is going to be a tough game but we’re coming here to win the game and go through. Anything can happen and we know that, so if we can get an early goal things could look good.”

PSG manager Thomas Tuchel is prepared for United to come out of the gates with vigor, much like his old side Borussia Dortmund did on Tuesday against Spurs (via En.PSG.fr):

“We know a team like that can score at any moment. But if they score first tomorrow, we’ll have to be able to react. The ideal thing would be to open the scoring, but we mustn’t lose our focus or waste energy by being afraid. We have to be ready for every possible scenario. And we have to accept that Manchester will be ready to do anything it takes to get a result.”

He also says, plainly, “We have to forget that we have an advantage.”

Porto v. Roma (Roma leads 2-1)

The Portuguese hosts know AS Roma is going to present a stiff challenge, and manager Sergio Conceicao is careful not to confuse the reputation of Serie A and what he learned as a player with Inter Milan and Lazio with the actual powers of i Lupi.

“We’re prepared for a difficult game,” said boss Sergio Conceicao. “We know that regardless of the way Italian teams think, Roma concede lots of goals. However we must be ready to face a Roma side who will defend their lead strongly, that’s clear. During the match, it may be that we’ll switch to a different strategy.”

Tuchel wants more from Mbappe despite brace

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kylian Mbappe scored a brace as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Nimes 3-0 in Ligue 1 play.

Apparently that’s not enough for manager Thomas Tuchel.

According to the PSG manager, Mbappe should have had “five or six goals” and claimed that “it’s up to him…to finish the chances.”

Tough crowd.

Mbappe was a menace up front for PSG the whole game, scoring goals in the 69th and 89th minutes. He also had a number of missed opportunities that Tuchel is referring to, missing the target in the 43rd, 53rd, 60th, and 84th minutes, plus seeing a trio of efforts saved. Overall, Mbappe ripped off nine shots in the match.

“Yes,” Tuchel said to Canal Plus when asked if he was pleased with Mbappe’s performance, “but today he has to score four or five.

“He’s a phenomenon, he has extraordinary qualities. He plays in a good team; we are able to create a lot of opportunities. It’s up to him, Edi[nson Cavani] and Angel [Di Maria] to finish the opportunities.”

Mbappe is following his breakout year with another spectacular performance this campaign, owning 20 league goals in 19 Ligue 1 matches this season plus another four Champions League goals in seven appearances. He has helped PSG to a 2-0 advantage after the first leg against Manchester United in Champions League play, with the return leg to take place on March 6 in the French capital.

Awful Niang tackle given yellow even after review

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Paris Saint-Germain may have downed Stade Rennais 4-1, but it was not without controversy even despite the lopsided scoreline.

In the 34th minute, with the match tied 1-1, M’baye Niang – who had already bagged Stade Rennais’s lone goal of the match – went in studs up on 22-year-old German international Thilo Kehrer.

It was an incredibly bad tackle, as replays showed Niang’s studs caught Kehrer square on the shin after he had already released the ball to a teammate. It looks a textbook red card, but referee Karim Abed initially awarded a yellow card. VAR flagged the incident as needing review, and Abed went to the sidelines to look at the monitor.

Somehow, he refused to change his initial decision. See for yourself:

As the game progressed and halftime arrived, PSG manager Thomas Tuchel was still understandably seething about the decision. As the halftime whistle blew, cameras caught the German boss yelled angrily at the referees – in English – to “go home and get that s*** away,” referring to the VAR equipment.

But Tuchel wasn’t done. He marched down the tunnel with purpose and continued to berate the referees…but switched languages. He transitioned flawlessly into angry French, asking the referees “Why do we even have VAR? Why do we even have it? Why? If there is a foul, it’s not a foul! If there is a red card, it’s not a red card!”

Niang apologized for the tackle after the match on social media. “A tackle poorly controlled! I had no intention to hurt you, I’m happy I did not hurt you! @KehrerThilo good luck the rest of the season and I’m so sorry!”

Thankfully for Tuchel, Kehrer was able to continue and PSG eventually won on a brilliant performance from Kylian Mbappe who picked up a goal and an assist in the second half, with Edinson Cavani scoring twice and Angel Di Maria bagging two assists.