Alves demands Champions League improvements from PSG

By Sports Desk September 13, 2018

Dani Alves says Paris Saint-Germain must improve their record in the Champions League ahead of the 2018-19 edition of the competition getting under way. 

PSG travel to Liverpool on Tuesday for their first group game ahead of meetings with Red Star Belgrade and Serie A side Napoli.

The Ligue 1 champions will wear shirts adorned with the Jordan Brand's "Jumpman" logo after a deal with the basketball great was announced on Thursday – the first time the brand has ever featured on a global football kit.

And Alves, speaking at the kit launch, said PSG have to target Champions League improvement after repeatedly failing to get past the quarter-final stage despite huge investment.

"We need to be careful for the next game [against Liverpool] because we play against a bigger, bigger club and this competition is very, very hard," Alves told Omnisport. 

"For this reason we have to be a little bit more careful then other matches but we accept the challenge from the group and competition and we need to do something different to last season.

"I think for PSG - for any club - to invest in players, in staff... you go home in the first challenge in this real competition, it is not good.

"It's not good for me, it's not good for the club and it's not good for us and we need to change something. Mentality shows what we do but in this year [we have] no chance to falter."

Last season PSG were knocked out by Real Madrid in the round of 16, losing both legs of the tie as Zinedine Zidane's men went on to win the tournament for the third year in a row.

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    Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen said it was "crazy" to see his former club Ajax in the Champions League semi-finals.

    The Eredivisie giants are into the last four of Europe's elite club competition for the first time since 1997 after an incredible run that has included eliminating Real Madrid and Juventus.

    Vertonghen started his professional career in Amsterdam before making the move to Spurs in 2012.

    The defender said Ajax's run was no longer a surprise as he prepares to face his former club in the semi-finals.

    "Ajax, obviously it's crazy they're there. An even bigger surprise that Ajax is there than us, probably," Vertonghen told UK media.

    "I follow them every game, I speak to the people at the club, I know how good they are, I've watched every game.

    "At the beginning in the Champions League they surprised everyone but now it is not a surprise any more. They are of this level, they are Champions League semi-final quality. That's how it is.

    "I know how good they are, because obviously knocking Madrid and Juventus out is crazy. It will be an unbelievable battle between two positive sides."

    While Ajax shocked Juve, Spurs survived a remarkable second leg against Manchester City, progressing on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw.

    Progression was only secured after the VAR ruled out a stoppage-time goal by City attacker Raheem Sterling, who thought he had sent Pep Guardiola's men into the semis.

    "It was crazy, madness, absolute madness. You don't know anything and it's a weird feeling," Vertonghen said.

    "No-one was even appealing for offside, we all thought they had scored. Everyone was on the floor, but there was still two or three minutes left.

    "So it was 'let's try and get the ball in the box and we will see whatever happens'. And then out of nothing, the referee came up with VAR. We didn't even know."

    Tottenham will host the first leg of their semi-final against Ajax on April 30.

  • Pochettino reflects on 'bad feelings' during dramatic win Pochettino reflects on 'bad feelings' during dramatic win

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    Raheem Sterling appeared to have completed his hat-trick and sent City into the semi-finals at the expense of Spurs with a stoppage-time winner at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

    However, the VAR ruled out the strike as Sergio Aguero was offside in the lead up, and Tottenham held on, losing 4-3 but progressing on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw.

    Pochettino said he quickly encountered numerous emotions, thinking Spurs had thrown away the quarter-final.

    "It was a moment where I threw my jacket, threw my jumper and I went to sit next to Jesus [Perez] and Miguel [D'Agostino] and Toni [Jimenez]," he told UK newspapers.

    "It was a few seconds like this [puts head in hands]. It was so fast. There were a lot of bad feelings and bad ideas."

    Christian Eriksen's wayward pass – deflected by a City player – led to Sterling's strike and Pochettino said he instantly questioned his Danish star's decision.

    "When Christian played back I was thinking, 'Why not play forward?' I was reviewing the action, the decision, how I was going to face the players, the fans," he said.

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    Milner was part of Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City teams that bowed out at the first knockout stage in 2014 and 2015. 

    The Reds will face Lionel Messi and his illustrious team-mates at a deeper stage of the competition, having swatted aside Porto to reach the semi-finals, and the 33-year-old believes their playing style under Jurgen Klopp can pose tough questions of any opponent.

    "We can beat Barca but we know it will very tough," Milner told reporters. "I've been there a couple of times in the knockout stages with City and not got the right result, so hopefully it is third time lucky for me. 

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    "They are a team full of great individual talent and a great side too. The Camp Nou is a fantastic stadium and a fantastic place to play with a great atmosphere. It will be very tough and we will have to be at our best but tough for them too.

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    Attentions return to the Premier League, with Liverpool travelling to relegation-threatened Cardiff City on Sunday after City take on a Tottenham side that dramatically eliminated them from Europe in midweek. 

    Both teams have set a relentless pace at the top of the table and Milner believes Liverpool must win all their remaining games – and reach a points haul of 97 – to become champions. 

    "That is what we will have to do. That is what we will try to do," he added, with City's game in hand meaning last season's centurions can still go on to 98 this time around. 

    "There are a lot of tough games coming up and it won't be easy. We are used to a game every three days and when the pressure is on towards the end of the season it maybe takes a bit more out of you.  

    "But the team has been fantastic in terms of how we have dealt with it all."

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