EPL

Van Dijk: Chelsea a different proposition following Hazard exit

By Sports Desk August 14, 2019

Virgil van Dijk expects to confront a different Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup to the Eden Hazard-inspired side that troubled Liverpool last season.

Hazard scored a thrilling winner when the Blues prevailed 2-1 in an EFL Cup tie at Anfield in September and opened the scoring in a 1-1 Premier League draw three days later.

The star winger has since left for Real Madrid and his former club slumped to a 4-0 defeat at Manchester United in Frank Lampard's first competitive match in charge.

Netherlands defender Van Dijk denied Hazard's exit would mean Liverpool are set for an easier route to victory on Wednesday.

"[Hazard] is a quality player and he was important to them but I think they have plenty of quality players," Van Dijk told reporters.

"I think they play a little bit different than they did last year.

"We will analyse them and then we will be prepared.

"Nothing that happened last season will have any impact on what is going to happen. It is the next game. It is going to be a new game.

"They have a new situation at the club there but we want to do better than we did last year and we will see."

Liverpool head into the match without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson, who injured his calf against Norwich.

New signing Adrian will step into the starting XI and Van Dijk believes the former West Ham gloveman is ready for the occasion.

"I think he played many big games in his career so I don't think he is going to be nervous or anything," the centre-back said.

"It is just that he has to do his job with us and hopefully we can win the trophy in the end."

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  • Neymar leaving PSG not possible without replacement, says Tuchel Neymar leaving PSG not possible without replacement, says Tuchel

    Thomas Tuchel admitted Paris Saint-Germain missed Neymar in their shock defeat to Rennes and ruled out an exit for the Brazil star unless an adequate replacement is brought in.

    Neymar's prolonged absence from the PSG squad continued on Sunday as the Ligue 1 champions fell to a 2-1 loss at Rennes in their first away outing of the new campaign.

    The 27-year-old Neymar has been recovering from an ankle injury that has ruled him out of action since early June, while questions remain over his future amid strong links with Real Madrid and former club Barcelona.

    After seeing his side struggle for creativity at Roazhon Park, however, head coach Tuchel stood firm on his stance that PSG must keep hold of the player.

    "He will not leave without recruitment, it is not possible," Tuchel said at his post-match news conference. "It's clear - if he stays, we will have a player who will help us win. 

    "We lacked capacity for acceleration. There were small situations where space opened but we were not decisive."

    Tuchel told Canal +: "I always say the same thing, the transfer window is open even more than 10 days and you think it will be settled tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?

    "What I think is not important. Today my player cannot play because he has not done any training like the others. This is the situation, and nothing has changed."

    Edinson Cavani was gifted a 36th-minute goal by Rennes following an error from Damien Da Silva, but PSG managed just one further shot on target and were made to pay by the side that also beat them in April's Coupe de France final.

    Goals either side of half-time from M'Baye Niang and Romain Del Castillo handed Rennes all three points, but Tuchel downplayed the magnitude of the defeat so early in the season.

    "It was a difficult match, but we expected it," he said. "We do not have everyone available. Some players only participated in two weeks of training. 

    "These situations are normal in August. We are not at our best. Against a physical team like Rennes, who gives everything, whose players run like crazy, in a match in prime time, it's normal that it was complicated for us. 

    "We scored the first goal, we controlled the match and made mistakes. We had to close the match after the first goal. We were not able to do it. 

    "We conceded a goal with a two against one in the area. We got very close to the Rennes area, but we lacked tenacity to win against some offensive. 

    "In these conditions, it was difficult to create opportunities. We can lose a match like that, but we could win it too."

    Despite a run of five away defeats in six league matches stretching into last season, Tuchel insisted he does not fear the sack and called for some patience.

    "I'm a very happy man," he said. "There is no one who is putting more pressure on myself than me. It's the same for every coach."

    "We can play better than today. Things are not easy - everyone has improved in Ligue 1 and the Champions League. It's time to be patient and to keep your confidence. We cannot question everything after a bad result."

  • Who is Eduardo Camavinga? The Rennes teenager taking Ligue 1 by storm Who is Eduardo Camavinga? The Rennes teenager taking Ligue 1 by storm

    Paris Saint-Germain endured another tough encounter against their Coupe de France final conquerors Rennes on Sunday, with the hosts coming from behind to claim a 2-1 win at Roazhon Park.

    Playing a starring role in a fine performance from Julien Stephan's side was 16-year-old midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

    Romain Del Castillo's 48th-minute winner came courtesy of Camavinga's sumptuous cross – a moment typical of the quality the youngster carried throughout the contest.

    Here, we tell you a little bit more about a teenage talent who looks set to become one of the hottest properties in European football in the not-too-distant future.


    Latest talent off Rennes' conveyor belt

    Responsible for bringing through the likes of Sylvain Wiltord, Yoann Gourcuff, Yann M'Vila, Moussa Sow, Yacine Brahimi and Ousmane Dembele, Rennes clearly liked what they saw with Camavinga as he became the youngest player from their academy to sign professional terms.

    He signed in December 2018 after impressing at age-grade level and did not have to wait long to make an impact in the first team.


    History maker

    Camavinga was handed his debut in a 3-3 draw with Angers in April when brought on as a last-minute substitute for M'Baye Niang.

    The youngster impressed enough to play a further six times before the end of the 2018-19 campaign, starting four of those matches.

    The first of those starts came in a 2-2 draw with Monaco, making him the first player born after January 1, 2002 to start a game in the top five European leagues.


    If you're good enough, you're old enough

    Rennes knew they had a talent on their hands and, nine months after he penned his first professional contract, they offered Camavinga a new deal running through a further year until 2022.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly given the hype surrounding him, head coach Stephan has used the Angola-born teen in every minute of Rennes' three matches this season, including both matches against PSG.

    Having been on the losing side in the Trophee des Champions clash on August 3, Camavinga had a lot more joy when the sides locked horns in Ligue 1 on Sunday by setting up Del Castillo's winner early in the second half.

    In doing so, he became the youngest player to deliver an assist in the French top flight since Opta started recording such data in 2006-07.


    What next?

    The display against PSG will attract all the plaudits given the calibre of opposition and magnitude of the result, although Stephan will no doubt be just as pleased with Camavinga's performance against Montpellier the week before.

    Leading 1-0 when Flavien Tait was dismissed, Rennes did not lose control of the match thanks largely to their prodigious young talent.

    No Rennes player managed more touches of the ball or won more duels than Camavinga, who also ended the game with the second-highest pass count of any Rennes player – completing 97.6 per cent of those.

    It is surely now just a matter of time before Europe's heavyweight clubs, PSG included, begin to circle for a player who does not turn 17 for another three months.

    At his current rate of progression, and with new records being set seemingly on a weekly basis, Camavinga appears to be heading to the top.

  • Alves scores on debut to lead Sao Paulo to victory Alves scores on debut to lead Sao Paulo to victory

    Dani Alves marked his Sao Paulo debut with the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Ceara on Sunday.

    Alves, 36, signed with the Brazilian giants at the start of the month and the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star had an immediate impact.

    Playing in midfield, Alves took a pass from Raniel and beat a defender before firing past Ceara goalkeeper Diogo Silva in the 40th minute.

    It proved to be the only goal of the clash, which marked Alves' first outing since leading Brazil past Peru in the Copa America final last month.

    Former Spain and Atletico Madrid defender Juanfran also made first appearance for Sao Paulo, starting at right-back.

    Sao Paulo climbed into fifth on the back of their win, sitting five points behind league leaders Santos.

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