Tuchel calls for Champions League patience after Ligue 1 glory

By Sports Desk April 21, 2019

Thomas Tuchel said Paris Saint-Germain must be patient in their Champions League quest after clinching back-to-back Ligue 1 titles.

PSG's domestic domination continued on Sunday thanks to Lille's 0-0 draw at Toulouse and a 3-1 victory over Monaco in Paris.

Kylian Mbappe's hat-trick against his former side sealed a sixth Ligue 1 trophy in seven seasons for PSG, whose campaign was derailed by a shock Champions League last-16 defeat to Manchester United in March.

PSG head coach Tuchel celebrated the title in his maiden season at the helm, while referencing Juve's wait for European glory, which dates back to 1996.

"We had a very serious first half, we are not in our best period, but we had a good game," Tuchel said via Canal+.

"Played with a good rhythm until the hour of the game. After the third goal, we lost the ball a little more. But we won, it was important. It was always complicated.

"If we win the Coupe de France, the season will be successful, the championship shows that we have worked hard.

"The Champions League is a goal, but even Juventus have been waiting for eight years. But the goal is to win the double each year, and it is achieved."

Neymar returned from a foot injury at home to Monaco, while PSG team-mate Edinson Cavani also made his comeback in the French capital.

Cavani came on in the second half and the Uruguay international – who has been linked with a move away from PSG – insisted he is happy to see out the remaining year of his contract.

"I am under contract here for another year," the 32-year-old forward. "I am good here, calm, and very happy with the team, as well as the supporters. That said, you never know in football."

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    The France Under-21 international has signed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga outfit after failing to nail down a regular starting place in Paris.

    It is believed Leipzig have paid an up-front fee of €13m, with a further €2m potentially due in bonuses.

    Nkunku, a midfielder developed at PSG, made 22 Ligue 1 appearances under Thomas Tuchel last term, starting 13 times.

    In arriving at Leipzig, he becomes the third new addition to Julian Nagelsmann's squad, after Hannes Wolf and Luan Candido.

    "I have heard a lot about the club and am convinced that the way football is played here suits me very well," Nkunku said.

    "I already know some of my new team-mates: I've played with Jean-Kevin Augustin in Paris, and with Dayot Upamecano and Nordi Mukiele for France.

    "I'm optimistic that I can come here and settle quickly."

    Nkunku is not the only young player on the way out of PSG.

    The French champions have allowed teenage attacker Virgiliu Postolachi to leave for Ligue 1 rivals Lille, where he has agreed a four-year contract.

  • Emery makes young player pledge as Nketiah states case for Arsenal Emery makes young player pledge as Nketiah states case for Arsenal

    Unai Emery vowed to give high-performing youngsters a chance at Arsenal following Eddie Nketiah's late winner against Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup.

    England Under-21 international Nketiah converted at close range in the 88th minute in California to give the Gunners a 2-1 victory over the German champions.

    Nketiah, 20, also impressed in the recent 3-0 friendly defeat of Colorado Rapids and could be set to add to eight his Premier League appearances, all of which have come as a substitute.

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  • De Ligt to Juve: Opta data reveals danger to Bonucci De Ligt to Juve: Opta data reveals danger to Bonucci

    Juventus have won the race for Matthijs de Ligt and handed Maurizio Sarri an €85.5million asset set to immediately challenge for a starting spot.

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    De Ligt has walked through the doors at Allianz Stadium in rather more triumphant fashion than Leonardo Bonucci did almost 12 months ago.

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    De Ligt could apply serious pressure to the 32-year-old's position.

    New boss Sarri favours a 4-3-3 system and his shiny new acquisition outperformed fellow right-footer Bonucci in most key defensive measures last term.

    Across all competitions, De Ligt won more duels (5.48), aerial contests (3.77) and tackles (0.61) per 90 minutes, while also completing a greater average number of clearances (3.95) and recoveries (6.53).

    Dwarfed in each category by the Dutchman, Bonucci ranked last behind Chiellini, Daniele Rugani and the now-retired Andrea Barzagli for duels (3.02), aerial contests (1.75) and clearances (2.86).

     

    Aerial prowess an alternative weapon

    Sarri's Chelsea were accused of being a one-dimensional team that sought only to break opposition sides down through often tedious passing sequences.

    Alvaro Morata and Gonzalo Higuain floundered in their attempts to spearhead the front three and the Blues scored the fewest goals of all top-six sides in the Premier League.

    Tormenting defences domestically should be no trouble for Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Moise Kean and Juve's high-class attacking cohort, but Sarri would be wise to seek out a variety of scoring sources for an assault on multiple fronts.

    In De Ligt, he has an aerial ace capable of climbing above any pack.

    The 19-year-old conjured seven goals for Ajax last season: three in the Eredivisie, one against rivals Feyenoord in the KNVB Beker, and a further three in the Champions League.

    Six of those were headed, including the towering effort which knocked Juve out of Europe while he also nodded an equaliser for Netherlands in their Nations League victory over England.

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    Durability threatens established order

    In the wake of Barzagli's retirement and the end of Martin Caceres' short-term loan, Juve reinforced their defensive stocks by signing Turkey international Merih Demiral from Sassuolo.

    The 21-year-old will almost certainly find his place in the pecking order behind Rugani, a favourite of Sarri's since their time together at Empoli.

    Bringing in a fifth centre-back to compete for one of two positions could lead the Italian champions to consider replenishing a diminished bank balance.

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    Throughout a demanding 2018-19 season, the reigning Golden Boy award winner turned out more times (55) than Chiellini and Rugani combined. Bonucci, Juve's top appearance-maker, started 14 fewer games.

    Sarri demonstrated appreciation for a high degree of availability as he consistently paired David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger together at Stamford Bridge until a knee injury removed the latter from calculations.

    Now, armed with hard evidence of De Ligt's excellence, the Bianconeri boss might forge a fresh partnership in Turin to herald the beginning of a new era.

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