Neymar's celebration mocking Erling Haaland in Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund had been planned as retribution for apparent taunts, and the forward told Marquinhos not to stop him.

Norwegian 19-year-old Haaland had scored both goals in Dortmund's 2-1 win over PSG in the last-16 first leg in February, celebrating by sitting cross-legged and pretending to meditate.

The situation was exacerbated by seemingly fake social media posts attributed to Haaland going viral, with the suspect image including a caption that read, "Paris, my city, not yours".

PSG reversed the deficit in the second leg as goals from Neymar and Juan Bernat secured them a 2-0 win – but still much of the focus was on Haaland and the Brazilian.

Neymar mimicked Haaland's celebration when he scored, while the whole team partook on the pitch at full-time and others posted photos of themselves doing similar on social media later.

"He [Neymar] likes this stuff," Marquinhos told YouTube channel Desimpedidos. "Neymar is not just a footballer, he is not afraid and always responds to provocations.

"After his goal, I asked him if he had taken everything out [on Dortmund with his goal]. He warned me, I told him to wait until the end of the match, but he told me to leave it and not to stop him.

"There had been some statements by their players after the away match. They won the first game and in the dressing room tunnel there was taunting and shouting against us."

Neymar was apparently unaware the supposed Haaland social post is thought to be fake, as he also mimicked that after the match - his iteration reading, "Paris, our city, not yours".

While the football world may be at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, that's not stopping transfer rumours from swirling in their usual manner, with Sevilla's Diego Carlos a name persistently mentioned of late.

A Brazilian centre-back recruited from Nantes last year in a reported €15million deal, the 27-year-old is enjoying a fine debut campaign in LaLiga, quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite and key member of Julen Lopetegui's team, who are third in LaLiga.

An impressive physical specimen, athletic and comfortable with the ball at his feet, Diego Carlos has been most intensely linked with Liverpool – Jurgen Klopp is said to be a big fan and has apparently identified him as a potential partner for Virgil van Dijk.

But Barcelona and Real Madrid have also been mentioned as admirers, having been able to have a close-up look at him in LaLiga.

With a €75m release clause, Diego Carlos certainly won't come cheap – but we've examined Opta's data to compare him with 16 of Europe's best centre-backs…

THE HOLLYWOOD PASS

The Sevilla team Diego Carlos plays in is quite direct, as such it's no surprise to see he plays a large portion (229) of his passes long – of our select group, only Van Dijk (281), Leonardo Bonucci (249) and Mats Hummels (235) have attempted more.

That undoubtedly impacts his overall pass accuracy of 83 per cent, the worst of the 17 players examined. However, Sergio Ramos has attempted only 10 fewer long-range passes, yet his overall completion rate is significantly better at 91 per cent.

His accuracy is even more unimpressive in the opposition's half, as it comes down to 64 per cent, compared to Ramos and Clement Lenglet at 87 per cent. Nevertheless, Sevilla's vertical style of play is significantly different to the setups of Real Madrid and, in particular, Barcelona, while the data does not take into account how difficult each pass was.

Regular Sevilla watchers will tell you Diego Carlos has a penchant for an eye-catching cross-field pass, but the data doesn't lie – many don't reach their target.

Only 48 per cent of his long-range passes find a team-mate, which again is the worst of the players analysed. It poses the question as to whether such a direct system is suited to Diego Carlos' attributes.

He is less prone to giving the ball away when distributing short – as you would expect most players to be – as he finds a Sevilla player with 90 per cent of those passes, but only Harry Maguire (89 per cent) has a lower record in this scenario, the highest being Presnel Kimpembe (96 per cent).

MUSCLE FOR A TUSSLE

Don't let his clean-cut, well-coiffed exterior fool you - one thing Diego Carlos certainly cannot be accused of is shying away from collision. He has been involved in 196 duels this season, with only Maguire (287), Van Dijk (247), Ramos (213) and Mats Hummels (205) from our select group recording more.

The Brazilian's success rate of 56 per cent in those duels is middling, though. Van Dijk leads the way here, coming out on top 75 per cent of the time in such situations.

But Diego Carlos does come off fairly well with respect to tackling, having attempted 30 and been successful 19 times. That gives him a success rate of 63 per cent, better than 10 others in this select group, including Van Dijk (55 per cent) and Ramos (62 per cent).

Diego Carlos isn't dribbled past very often either, with only eight occurrences of that this term. Six of the chosen group have better records, though three of them are on seven and only one – Leonardo Bonucci (two) – has been beaten fewer than six times.

GET RID!

The clearances metric is where Diego Carlos performs best. He has found himself in the right position to clear danger 128 times in 2019-20, the third best among defenders in LaLiga.

Only Van Dijk (135) and Maguire (132) have a better record in this area from our group, though it's worth bearing in mind the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and others do not find themselves in defensive situations as often as Sevilla.

He also leads the way in terms of headed clearances in LaLiga with 71, just shy of Maguire's 80, while Diego Carlos' 25 interceptions is a solid effort as well, though it is some way behind the Manchester United captain's 53.

While it's fair to say Diego Carlos still has areas of his game that can be improved, it's worth stressing that some data points reflect – or are influenced heavily by – the team's setup.

Although the accuracy of Diego Carlos' long passes – a feature of Sevilla's direct system – leaves a mark against his name here, as an out-and-out defender, he is not disgraced when compared to a group of centre-backs most would consider the elite, an applaudable feat given this is only his fourth season in one of Europe's top-five leagues.

Defenders included in the select group: Virgil van Dijk, Harry Maguire, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Raphael Varane, Presnel Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Dayot Upamecano, Benjamin Pavard, Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji, Matthijs de Ligt, Leonardo Bonucci, Milan Skriniar, Kalidou Koulibaly

 

An exasperated Thomas Tuchel accepted he no longer knows the offside rules after he was left baffled by the decision to allow Islam Slimani's Monaco equaliser to stand during Paris Saint-Germain's 3-3 draw on Sunday.

During a thrilling encounter at the Parc des Princes, PSG took an early lead through Neymar, only to then fall behind to strikes from Gelson Martins and Wissam Ben Yedder – the latter netting in the 13th minute.

The pendulum swung back in PSG's favour thanks to a Fode Ballo Toure own goal and Neymar's penalty just prior to the break, but controversially Monaco sealed a share of the spoils in Robert Moreno's first Ligue 1 game as coach 20 minutes from time.

Gelson's shot found its way to the seemingly offside Slimani via a touch from Marquinhos that was deemed to be deliberate, and the on-loan Leicester City striker swept home – VAR ruling in the visitors' favour after the assistant initially ruled it out.

Tuchel was bemused by the situation.

"The third goal… I don't, I can't understand," Tuchel said in his post-match news conference. "Really, why is it not offside?

"Everybody said to me that it is the new rule. Okay - after that, I have to say that I don't understand the rules, but it doesn't help."

Tuchel suggested before the match he was considering deploying Marquinhos – normally a centre-back – in midfield, but in the end he opted to select the Brazilian in defence, with Idrissa Gueye partnering Marco Verratti.

It was put to Tuchel that Gueye and Verratti might not be entirely compatible, while the German explained he played Marquinhos at the back due to recent injury problems in that position.

In a prickly response, Tuchel said: "Do you think differently, that they [Gueye and Verratti] are not complementary? Do you think I would start the two if I thought they're not complementary? Doesn't make sense right?

"For me, Marquinhos can play both positions at an unbelievable level. He is a world-class player in both positions.

"Recently we've some troubles [in defence], because Presnel [Kimpembe] was injured for a few weeks, Thilo Kehrer was injured for a long time, he's already played twice, so it was not the moment for him to play a third time, Abdou Diallo was not available and it was the first game for Thiago Silva.

"That's why we used Marquinhos, because it was the logical solution for this game, but for me, it's still possible to play with Marquinhos in midfield, because he gives the team some quality, a lot of energy and personality.

"It was necessary for me to find a solution like that [against Monaco] because my three central defenders are injured, or just got back from injuries. It was logical."

PSG remain in charge at the Ligue 1 summit with 46 points from 19 matches, five clear of Marseille. Monaco are eighth.

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