Anelka fears star-packed PSG could face Champions League group-stage exit

By Sports Desk September 16, 2021

Nicolas Anelka fired a warning that darker days could lie ahead after Paris Saint-Germain fell flat against Club Brugge despite fielding Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in the starting line-up.

The disappointment of a 1-1 draw in Belgium was compounded by an ankle injury sustained by Mbappe that forced the France forward off early in the second half.

PSG were out-shot 16-9 by Club Brugge, with Messi having three attempts but proving unable to mark his 150th Champions League appearance with what would have been a 121st goal in the competition.

Messi had never previously played against a Belgian side in the competition, scoring against teams from all 17 other nations he has faced. The closest he came was when he struck the crossbar in the 29th minute.

Neymar did not take a shot, while Mbappe had only one attempt before being substituted.

"It is the PSG that we do not want to see," Anelka said, speaking to French broadcaster RMC Sport.

"Nothing. There was nothing, except for the first 15 minutes. But apart from that, there was no intensity. We did not see anything offensively, it will be complicated."

The star attacking trio may take time to become a cohesive threat, given playing together is so very new, but head coach Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to return PSG to winning ways.

Manchester City visit Paris on September 28, and Anelka is already worried about the Parisians' prospects of finishing in the top two in Group A.

"If they play like that, it will not be possible," said former PSG and City striker Anelka.

The result on Wednesday evening means Messi has gone four consecutive Champions League games without enjoying a win (D2 L2). Only between March 2006 and February 2007 has he gone longer without a victory in the competition, then experiencing a run of five with Barcelona around the outset of his career.

Pochettino saw the performance of his team rather differently to Anelka's viewpoint.

"The problem today wasn't our three attackers," Pochettino said. "We just had to be more solid in both penalty areas but I'm happy with the defensive performance of our attackers."

The PSG boss defended Messi's performance, saying of the former Barcelona captain: "When you don't win, people try to put the focus on the less positive aspects.

"But I'm happy with his performance in terms of his spirit and attitude but also in terms of his adaptation to the team. It is clear that none of us is happy today as here at PSG we want to win every game and then also play well."

Related items

  • Jorginho dreaming of World Cup success and Ballon d'Or crown Jorginho dreaming of World Cup success and Ballon d'Or crown

    Jorginho is dreaming of winning the World Cup with Italy while he played down the potential of him winning the Ballon d'Or.

    The Chelsea midfielder enjoyed glory for club and country after winning the Champions League with Thomas Tuchel's men and Euro 2020 with Italy, becoming just the 10th player to achieve the double in the same year.

    His performances across the two competitions led him to be named the UEFA Men's Player of the Year in August as the award's top three was comprised exclusively of midfielders for the first time in 11 years.

    Indeed, at the European Championships across June and July, Jorginho topped Italy's charts for recoveries (48) and interceptions (25) while only Spain's Aymeric Laporte (644) made more successful passes than the 29-year-old's 484.

    With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in his sights, Jorginho described winning the tournament as his lifelong ambition while remaining unsure on who would claim the Ballon d'Or.

    "I don't know honestly. If you don't dream anymore you can stop playing football," Jorginho responded to Sky Sport Italia when asked about the individual award.

    "My dream is to win the next match. Then I dream of the World Cup, who is the child who has never dreamed of it?

    "I never imagined I would get this far, but I dreamed and all I've done is to chase my dream, now I'm living it and I'm proud.

    "I am happy to give my family pride. And another dream could come true in the winter of 2022."

    The midfielder has enjoyed another positive start to the new Premier League term with Chelsea, who sit a point clear at the top of the league after nine games.

    Jorginho ranks sixth for minutes played under Tuchel in the top flight this term, racking up 559 minutes of action, and ranks fourth for successful passes (363) as he remains the Blues' pivot between attack and defence.

    When asked about his club form, Jorginho replied: "We are on the right path, we are working hard, and we must continue like this.

    "The more you work together, the more you understand what you need to do, learning new movements and creating an increasingly winning mentality.

    "All this gives you solidity, confidence and makes you grow as a group. And that's what's happening at Chelsea."

  • Nagelsmann warns Kimmich there are 'easier interview topics' after midfielder's COVID-19 vaccination admission Nagelsmann warns Kimmich there are 'easier interview topics' after midfielder's COVID-19 vaccination admission

    Julian Nagelsmann revealed he contacted Joshua Kimmich after the Germany midfielder hit the headlines as he admitted he had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

    Bayern Munich, who are preparing to face Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal second round, have been without Nagelsmann after the former RB Leipzig head coach tested positive for coronavirus.

    However, it was Kimmich who was the main point of interest after Bayern defeated Hoffenheim 4-0 as the 26-year-old explained he had not been vaccinated because he wanted further research to be conducted first.

    Former Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was quick to assure Kimmich should do the responsible thing and get vaccinated, though Nagelsmann attempted to put an end to the saga at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

    "A lot of topics are often chewed through," Nagelsmann told reporters from his home during his virtual conference. "It is important that there is an exchange of views. Everyone then has to decide for themselves whether they have to give their mustard to everything.

    "There are experts, they should express their opinion. Whether the federal government has to do that now, it has to know for itself. I am happy when everyone can concentrate on their job again."

    Nagelsmann, who has been operating from his homemade "data centre", then revealed he had contacted Kimmich to discuss the interview while admitting it was up to the individual whether they should get vaccinated or not.

    "I wrote to him after the interview," he continued. "I told him that there are certainly easier interview topics. That is the price you pay when you are in public.

    "Enough has been said about it now. I also gave my opinion of what I thought about the vaccination – I now know how the symptoms progress.

    "From this and in exchange with doctors I also noticed that the disease behaves differently after the vaccination. Nevertheless, it is up to you to decide whether he can be vaccinated."

    Nagelsmann will not be fit enough to return for the visit to Gladbach, though he could return against Union Berlin on Saturday.

    His side have won all three games in his absence, dispatching Leverkusen, Benfica and Hoffenheim by an aggregate score of 13-1.

    However, the 34-year-old revealed he finds comments that Bayern do not need a coach in his absence disrespectful, pointing towards the crucial interventions that are sometimes required on the touchline.

    "The team is very good, no question about it," he added.

    "I also have a very well-functioning coaching team. They are a tight-knit bunch, and we know each other very well.

    "But I don't lie around at home and don't work on anything. I think it is sometimes a bit disrespectful when you claim that the team doesn't need a coach. There are always moments when you should intervene."

  • Dybala and Chiesa to start Juve's next match as Allegri accepts he 'got it wrong' against Inter Dybala and Chiesa to start Juve's next match as Allegri accepts he 'got it wrong' against Inter

    Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa will start Juventus' Serie A clash with Sassuolo after Massimiliano Allegri accepted he made a mistake with his team selection against Inter.

    Allegri introduced Dybala and Chiesa from the substitutes' bench with Juve trailing in Sunday's match at San Siro, and the former netted a late penalty to rescue a 1-1 draw.

    Despite only being brought on in the 65th minute, Dybala led the way among Juventus players for shots (four), shots on target (two) and big chances created (two).

    The Argentina international, who was returning from a four-game injury lay-off, has been directly involved in more goals (six) than any team-mate in all competitions this term.

    Chiesa's 12 chances created this term, meanwhile, has been bettered by only Alvaro Morata (13) and Juan Cuadrado (15).

    Juventus head coach Allegri explained the decision to overlook the pair for Derby d'Italia selection was down to fitness issues, with both set to be recalled against Sassuolo on Wednesday.

    "Paulo and Chiesa will play, so everybody is happy. You write and I make you happy," Allegri, who was criticised for his team selection, said at his pre-match news conference.

    "Dybala has important technical qualities. He is different from [Dejan] Kulusevski, but Kulusevski played a good game in Milan in the first 60 minutes.

    "Chiesa is a top player. He's played many games already. On Sunday, I was wrong, but I had read the game in a different way, with Kulusevski man-marking [Marcelo] Brozovic.

    "It's not a problem if a player starts on the bench, there are many games. Chiesa didn't drop to the bench because he deserved it. I had read the game in a certain way.

    "Eventually, when he was introduced, we needed more quality and he had a great impact.

    "Federico is a reference point for the national team and Juventus, but if I use the same players all the time, I'll need 20 new players in January.

    "We hope we’ll play 57 games this season and sometimes players must rest. They can benefit from it, physically and mentally."

    Allegri also confirmed Adrien Rabiot is back and available, but Moise Kean and Federico Bernardeschi are ruled out for the visit of Sassuolo to Allianz Stadium.

    Juve have taken 13 points from their last five Serie A matches – only Milan (15) are in better form – but they still sit down in sixth after a poor start to Allegri's second tenure.

    The Bianconeri trailed leaders Napoli by 10 points heading into the weekend games, while Inter were also seven points off top spot, but Allegri still rates the defending champions as favourites to win the Scudetto.

    "[Simone] Inzaghi won't admit it, but Inter are the favourites to win Serie A," Allegri said. "Anything can happen in football, but they remain the favourites.

    "We had a bad start, so there is no room for mistakes. The draw against Inter is important, but only if we win tomorrow."

    Juventus have lost only one of their 16 Serie A matches against 13th-place Sassuolo (W12 D3) – a 1-0 defeat in October 2015 via a Nicola Sansone goal.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.