Pochettino searching for answers after PSG's post-Champions League woes continue

By Sports Desk March 14, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino said he is searching for answers to Paris Saint-Germain's post-Champions League struggles after the Ligue 1 holders were stunned by lowly Nantes on Sunday.

PSG missed the chance to go top of the Ligue 1 table following a shock 2-1 home defeat against relegation-threatened Nantes.

Pochettino's side looked on track to claim maximum points thanks to Julian Draxler's 42nd-minute opener, but two unanswered goals in the second half lifted Nantes to their first win away to PSG in Ligue 1 since 2002.

PSG have now lost their last three Ligue 1 fixtures immediately after Champions League clashes – the French giants fell to Lyon 1-0 following their 5-1 rout of Istanbul Basaksehir on December 9 and suffered a 2-0 defeat against Monaco after crushing Barcelona 4-1 at Camp Nou on February 16.

Now, after being shocked in Paris on the back of their 1-1 draw with Barca in the second leg of the last-16 tie on Wednesday, head coach Pochettino told reporters: "Surely there must be some connection, which we have to find.

"After the match in Barcelona, we played with practically the same players and you could think that we lacked energy. But today we brought in new players.

"It's clear that the energetic and stressful demands of the Champions League are hard for the team, especially when the matches are as physical as tonight's.

"In the first half we absolutely dominated the match. In the second half, when we conceded the goal, it cost us a lot and that's when it affects us to have played a match as important as the one we played here on Wednesday."

It was a forgettable outing for Pochettino and last season's Champions League finalists PSG, who are second and three points behind leaders Lille through 29 Ligue 1 rounds.

PSG have lost two consecutive home games in Ligue 1 for the first time since November 2012.

Pochettino is the first PSG coach to lose three of his first 12 Ligue 1 games since Antoine Kombouare in 2009 (four).

Meanwhile, Angel Di Maria and an as of yet unnamed PSG team-mate had their houses broken into during the Nantes showdown.

Di Maria was taken off midway through the second half at Parc des Princes, after a curious discussion between officials – including sporting director Leonardo, who appeared visibly angry – in the stands, and the coaching staff on the touchline over the phone.

The substitution caused confusion - not only off the pitch, but also on it. PSG conceded just before Di Maria went off, and then again nine minutes later to throw away their lead and ultimately lose.

On the Di Maria case, Pochettino added: "There are situations outside football that we should be aware of.

"The footballers are the first to know the disappointment of losing the three points but there are other situations, beyond football, that the footballers and we should be concerned about, I think you already know that."

Related items

  • Paul Pogba ‘sad, shocked and heartbroken’ after being banned for doping Paul Pogba ‘sad, shocked and heartbroken’ after being banned for doping

    Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba said he was “sad, shocked and heartbroken” after being banned from football for a doping offence.

    The former Manchester United player was on Thursday handed a four-year ban, according to reports in Italy.

    The 30-year-old was provisionally suspended by Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal in September after testing positive for testosterone following Juve’s Serie A match with Udinese on August 20, where he was an unused substitute.

    And, after the failed test was confirmed by Italian anti-doping body Nado in a second sample in October, the four-year suspension requested by the prosecutor’s office has now reportedly been granted.

    Pogba has responded by issuing a statement on social media saying he has “never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations”.

    He also said he will be lodging an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ban.

    He said on Instagram: “I have today been informed of the Tribunale Nazionale Antidoping’s decision and believe that the verdict is incorrect.

    “I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me.

    “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Paul Labile Pogba (@paulpogba)

    “As a professional athlete I would never do anything to enhance my performance by using banned substances and have never disrespected or cheated fellow athletes and supporters of any of the teams I have played for, or against.

    “As a consequence of the decision announced today I will appeal this before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

    Pogba became the world’s most expensive footballer when he moved to Manchester United from Juve for £89million in 2016, before rejoining the Italian giants on a free transfer in the summer of 2022.

    The 2018 World Cup-winner has featured only sparingly since returning to Turin after a number of injury setbacks, making six Serie A appearances last season and two this term.

  • 'I feel 40' – Birthday boy Doncic dispatches Raptors 'I feel 40' – Birthday boy Doncic dispatches Raptors

    Luka Doncic quipped he feels like he is 40 years old after he celebrated his 25th birthday in style.

    Doncic became the first player in NBA history to finish with a triple-double on their birthday as he led the Dallas Mavericks to a 136-125 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

    He finished with 30 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds for his 11th triple-double of the season.

    Doncic has now had 39 30-point triple-doubles, which sees him surpass LeBron James in the all-time list for that feat.

    When asked if he considered his 25th birthday as a milestone, Doncic joked: "I feel like [I'm] 40, so no."

    Doncic was 11 for 23 from the field and missed 7 of 8 from 3-point range in his 67th career triple-double.

    "Just a normal game, triple-double," Jason Kidd said.

    "He was really good. I guess 25 means he's still going to be really good as he gets older here."

    Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and P.J. Washington Jr. added 23 points for Dallas, as they bounced back from back-to-back defeats.

    "Kyrie and Luka, they had such a poise in important moments to make the right plays," said Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic after his team saw a three-game winning streak snapped.

    Doncic added: "We just played aggressive on defense, got out on transition, that's it. 

    "My team knows when I'm engaged. Everybody helps everyone to be engaged.

    "I'm having so much fun. Back-to-back is always tough, a great win today, I've got to get some rest now."

  • Mauricio Pochettino feels Chelsea showed bravery in ‘needed’ win over Leeds Mauricio Pochettino feels Chelsea showed bravery in ‘needed’ win over Leeds

    Mauricio Pochettino hailed a “needed” victory as Chelsea bounced back from Sunday’s Carabao Cup final extra-time heartbreak to edge past Leeds and reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.

    Conor Gallagher, who missed two glorious chances in the closing stages of normal time in the Wembley loss to Liverpool, came off the bench to hit the winner at Stamford Bridge as the Championship side were dispatched 3-2 to set up a last-eight meeting with Leicester.

    Axel Disasi and Moises Caicedo combined to gift Mateo Joseph an eighth-minute opener but the Blues turned it around before half-time as Nicolas Jackson equalised and Raheem Sterling set up Mykhailo Mudryk to make it 2-1.

    Leeds levelled just before the hour mark when Joseph headed home his second but Enzo Fernandez set up Gallagher to avoid extra-time and put Chelsea through.

    “We needed this result,” said Pochettino. “It wasn’t a great performance. (Leeds) were a team full of confidence, a very strong team, they are doing fantastic in the Championship.

    “It was tough for us, when you concede after a few minutes. But the character we showed after in this situation, it’s a thing to learn from the team. I’m so happy. We avoided extra-time. We’re in the quarter-final which was our objective.

    “It’s always tough when you lose a final in extra-time. We had 72 hours or less to recover, it’s always difficult. The effort was massive and I say thank you to the players because they made a fantastic effort.”

    Pochettino reiterated his rejection of Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville’s jibe that Chelsea had “bottled” the Carabao Cup final against a Liverpool side bested by injuries.

    “I cannot be angry about (Neville),” he said. “With all my love to Gary, it’s not fair to use this type of word for a team that is so brave, a club that always fights for big things.

    “What can we do? Only with this type of performance show that we are brave and that we can win games. Nothing to say, only to keep moving.

    “It’s not important for us. Because we know how we are and who we are, and how we behave. We know why we lost the game against Liverpool. It’s nothing to do with this.

    “We know that we are brave and that we are working really hard, For us, it’s not an important comment.”

    Leeds boss Daniel Farke reflected on a game that slipped away at the hands of clinical finishing from Chelsea.

    “That second goal (from Mudryk), class finish,” he said. “The third goal, really good action of Gallagher.

    “I’m disappointed because wherever we go, we want to win. I know it’s not realistic we will win the FA Cup, but I wanted to win this and go in the next round. We are a young side, without several key players.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.