Classique on its knees? Neymar and Mbappe score as PSG march tediously towards some sort of Ligue 1 glory

By Sports Desk April 17, 2022

A Classique by name but certainly not by nature, Paris Saint-Germain took a step closer to the inevitable eighth Ligue 1 title of the QSI era thanks to goals from Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Predictably, Lionel Messi's name did not feature on the scoresheet. Predictably, Neymar's name found its way into the referee's book after a foul followed by a tantrum.

These games are not always predictable of course. Few saw the five stoppage-time red cards coming when these teams last met at the Parc des Princes in Ligue 1, back in September 2020.

All hell broke loose on that occasion when the game's simmering tension reached boiling point. Accusations were flung this way and that, with the red-carded Neymar at the centre of many of them. Marseille won that game 1-0, doling out another painful blow to a PSG side who had lost the Champions League final to Bayern Munich just three weeks earlier.

PSG ridiculously failed to win Ligue 1 last season, an embarrassment considering the riches of their talent pool, but the trophy – L'Hexagoal – is heading back to the capital, and Sunday's 2-1 win over Marseille put the Parisian club 15 points clear with six rounds of games to play.

They could wrap up the title in midweek, but what would it really mean? Will it save Mauricio Pochettino's job? Probably not. Will it be the determining factor in whether Mbappe signs a new deal or heads to Madrid? Probably not. Will the PSG fans celebrate it with any great gusto? No, probably not, given many are apparently pig-sick of the club's leadership.

The Ligue 1 title has been reduced to a matter of interest only when PSG do not win it, given it should be a formality each season. And so on they plod, this gaggle of megastars and their various chums.

 

It is not quite the 'Zidanes and Pavons' policy of Real Madrid's Galacticos late period, but PSG are similarly top-heavy. While that Madrid side struggled at times in the league, they could put it together in the Champions League, the competition that remains out of reach for this PSG incarnation.

Was this Pochettino's final Classique? There are no assurances forthcoming over his future. If it is, he has nudged PSG ahead of Marseille on the all-time record between the teams in Ligue 1. This was a 33rd victory in the series, with Marseille having won 32 times and 20 of the league games having been drawn.

So one-sided has this rivalry become, however, that PSG have only lost one of the last 20 such league tussles between the sides (W15 D4).

That's a rivalry, only in the sense that Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova was a rivalry on the tennis court. Williams lost two of their first three matches, then won the next 19 before Sharapova retired, barring one walk-over.

Sunday's encounter was certainly not a walk-over for PSG, as Marseille made a match of this Classique at times, recovering from Neymar's early strike to draw level through Duje Caleta-Car, with Gianluigi Donnarumma adding to his bloopers file as he failed to gather Dimitri Payet's corner. 

Neymar had a free-kick well saved by Pau Lopez, Messi had a couple of goals ruled out for offside calls, Mbappe smashed home a penalty after Neymar's shot was handled. William Saliba was denied a late Marseille equaliser after a VAR review showed he was narrowly offside. PSG actually finished this game having seen just 42 per cent of the ball, their lowest total in a Ligue 1 game since February 2013, also against Marseille.

And of course Neymar flapped indignantly after being booked for fouling Matteo Guendouzi. Just for a moment the combustible Brazilian looked to be risking a second yellow with his protests.

PSG can be fun to watch when they lose the plot, or when they attempt defending, but the joy that should be gleaned from seeing Neymar, Messi and Mbappe together is tempered by the sense of formality about all of this.

 

Almost 30 years have passed since it was Marseille's ownership that had critics up in arms, during the scandal-hit Bernard Tapie era, when it was OM who had the biggest stars.

In 1993, the year Marseille won the Champions League, Alen Boksic, Rudi Voller and Abedi Pele complemented a rich French contingent that included Basile Boli, Fabien Barthez, Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps.

The PSG of that era had stars too – David Ginola, George Weah and Valdo among them – and the great rivalry was ostensibly born, but the modern-day Marseille are no competition on a man-for-man basis with the current Parisian legion of luminaries.

Tycoon Tapie's substantial wealth and Marseille's financial clout had nothing on the Qatar Sports Investments money muscle behind PSG, though.

French football has been dealt the derogatory tag of a "farmer's league", a title bestowed due to a perceived lack of competition. And when the joie de vivre has been sucked out of even Le Classique, where does the game go from here?

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    Dunbeholden Football Club’s recent signings have added a new dimension to Lenworth “Teacha” Hyde’s squad and are pushing teammates to reach a higher level, as the St Catherine-based team continued its Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL) playoff hunt with a 3-0 win over Harbour View, on Monday.

    Dwight Merrick (35th), on loan from Mount Pleasant FA, and Rojay Smith (89th), who signed from Harbour View in January, joined Carlington Blackwood (72nd) on the score sheet, as Dunbeholden outshone the “Stars of the East”, at Stadium East field.

    They have now won three games on the trot in a five-match unbeaten run and are now sixth on 33 points, three ahead of closest rival Waterhouse FC (30 points). Mount Pleasant (46 points), Cavalier (44 points), Tivoli Gardens (41 points), Portmore United (41 points) and Arnett Gardens (38 points), occupy the other playoff positions.

    Dunbeholden’s assistant coach Ricardo Smith, was delighted by the team’s dominant display and current vein of form heading into the business end of the season.

    “I am very impressed by the win, especially with the clean sheet. The performance was so good that I can't pick out a player to say they didn’t play well. Everybody had a good game and the fact that we are back in a playoff position is an even bigger positive,” Smith said.

    After going down 0-2 to Harbour View earlier in the season, Dunbeholden were mindful not to suffer another defeat in a similar manner and that might have resulted in their cagey start.

    However, once they found rhythm, it was only a matter of time before they broke the deadlock, which they eventually did when Merrick drove a firm left-footer from about 20 yards out pass Trinidad and Tobago-born custodian Glenroy Samuels, at his near post.

    With Merrick’s second goal of the season proving the difference at the end of the first half, Harbour View showed more purpose at the top of the second half, and enjoyed a good passage of play in which they used the right channel well to provide service inside the box, but failed to get on target.

    In fact, of the four shots that Harbour View got off throughout the entire game, none was on target, and that all but explains why they succumbed to a fourth-consecutive defeat.

    Dunbeholden doubled their lead in the 72nd minute courtesy of a tidy team build-up, which comprised 16 passes, very much reflective of a typical Lenworth Hyde-coached team. That series of ball movement opened up Harbour View’s defence and Donovan Segree played a perfect final pass through to Blackwood, who applied an excellent finish.

    They almost had a third three minutes later when Segree found space at the top of the 18-yard box for a left-footed effort, which was tipped over by Samuels.

    But with Harbour View offering very little in attack, Dunbeholden applied consistent pressure and inevitably gifted another. Samuels gave up possession to substitute Brian Burkett, who played a pass across goal for Smith to tap in, and put Harbour View, who were celebrating the club's 50th anniversary, out of their misery.

    Harbour View’s Head coach Ludlow Bernard was again left disappointed by his team’s sub-par display, which all but sums up why they are currently in 11th position on 19 points.

    “It was a non-performance from us, and we only have ourselves to blame. I mean, when I look at the three goals, it's really a crying shame,” Bernard lamented.

    “I don't want to come with a blame game over the air, it is something we have to deal with internally, but clearly someone has to answer to the goals. It really costs us, especially at a critical point in the game when we're just getting on top of the game and getting ready to come back in the game and you concede a goal like that…its Unthinkable,” he added.

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    Treasure Beach 0, Tivoli Gardens 5

    Vere United 0, Arnett Gardens 1

    Waterhouse 0, Mount Pleasant 1

    Cavalier FC 1, Humble Lion 1

    Dunbeholden FC 3, Harbour View 0

     

     

  • Speid livid over disallowed goal in Cavalier's 1-1 stalemate with Humble Lion Speid livid over disallowed goal in Cavalier's 1-1 stalemate with Humble Lion

    After a 6-0 aggregate beating from Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit FC Cincinnati in Concacaf Champions Cup play, Rudolph Speid and his Cavalier unit would have hoped for better fortunes on return to the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL).

    While they did well to come from behind in a 1-1 stalemate with Humble Lion, the outcome was by no means pleasing to Speid, who felt they were undone by poor officiating in the lukewarm contest at Stadium East field on Monday.

    With the score tied in the dying moments of the game, after Andre Clennon (56th) fired Humble Lion in front, and Jalmaro Calvin (72nd) responded for Cavalier, Jeovanni Laing thought he had the winner for Speid’s side, but the goal was disallowed by referee Andre Farquharson.

    This, as there was some contact between Laing and Humble Lion’s goalkeeper Shamal Briscoe in a challenge for possession leading up to the goal. However, replay showed that Laing got to the ball well ahead of the advancing Briscoe, who through momentum, then collided with the attacker’s trailing leg on his way towards goal.

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    “There was another call for a penalty that we didn't get, and then that was a clean goal. These are not easy things to miss. It is the most difficult thing for you make a call like that wrong. I mean after we spend millions of dollars to play football, we are supposed to win our game, if we get to win our game. Frankly, I think we won the game, except for that blatant call that has no place in football,” Speid argued.

    Cavalier earlier dominated proceedings, and squandered numerous chances, in a goalless first half, much to Speid’s disappointment.

    It was almost like rubbing salt in a wound when Clennon put Humble Lion in front 11 minutes into the resumption, as he fired home from close range, after Cavalier failed to clear their lines from Xavian Virgo’s freekick.

    Cavalier later bossed possession in their press for the equalizer, which eventually came in the 72nd when Calvin glanced a perfectly weighted cross from Laing into the far corner of the goal for his 10th of the season.

    Speid’s side maintained the momentum from there, and thought they had the winner in time added, but for the controversial call.

    “I am not happy with the performance because we got a lot of opportunities, especially in the first half that we could have done better with. But again, it was just a difficult game to play, every time we challenged, it was a call, so it was just difficult for us to play this game,” Speid said.

    “It is very important that we maintain it (our challenge for the top spot), but if we get games like this, we don't know what's going to happen because I didn't think this was a fair result,” he added.

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    They are currently in 12th position on 19 points, seven points ahead of Treasure Beach (12 points), who occupies the drop zone with the other promoted team Lime Hall Academy (seven points).

    “Many people thought that we would have come here and get a beating, but I thought the guys played gallantly and I think we deserve at least a point from the game,” Reynolds said.

    “We want to move away from this, from this dreaded zone just to prevent us looking over our shoulder when we are playing, and also, so that we can go out and play with a little bit more confidence. So, a few more points in the upcoming games and we should be fine,” he noted.

  • Ref welfare charity fears Mark Clattenburg ‘may be used like a puppet’ by Forest Ref welfare charity fears Mark Clattenburg ‘may be used like a puppet’ by Forest

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    “I haven’t spoken to the referee – I’ll leave that to the club. I went to go into the referee’s dressing room (after the game) but he (Tierney) wouldn’t allow it.”

    PGMOL is understood to be unaware of any further contact from the club over the incident beyond Clattenburg’s comments. Forest have not commented on whether there has been further contact.

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