Kylian Mbappe's future continues to dominate headlines.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of 2021-22 and no closer to re-signing in the French capital.

Real Madrid are reportedly holding onto hope of securing his services before the end of the transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STILL DREAMING OF MBAPPE

Real Madrid have not given up on signing Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, according to the front page of Thursday's Diario AS.

Mbappe is into the final year of his PSG contract and while he has been tipped to make the move to Madrid, he has reportedly told friends he will remain in Paris.

However, LaLiga powerhouses Madrid – also linked with Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland – believe it is a strategy to secure a friendly exit from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are interested in Monaco defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, say reporters Sacha Tavolieri and Jonathan Shrager. United have also been linked with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who is reportedly wanted by PSG and Madrid.

- RB Leipzig star Marcel Sabitzer is interested in a move to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich, claims Bild.

- Goal and widespread reports say Arsenal are close to signing Martin Odegaard from Madrid. Odegaard spent six months on loan at Arsenal last season.

Duvan Zapata is Inter's priority signing, according to Calciomercato. Despite signing Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries after Romelu Lukaku's, the Serie A champions are eyeing the Atlanta forward. Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, Joaquin Correa of Lazio, Torino forward Andrea Belotti and Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst are other options.

- Italian journalist Sara Meini reports Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit of Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic amid their struggle to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham. Atletico Madrid and Spurs have also been linked with Vlahovic.

Juventus are nearing a deal to re-sign Miralem Pjanic from Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo. Juve, according to Di Marzio, are also listening to offers for Weston McKennie.

The new Ligue 1 season is on the horizon and Paris Saint-Germain are clear title favourites. They may have lost the championship race last term, but some things never change.

If Lille's triumph was unexpected in 2020-21, another upset in the coming campaign would be on another level entirely.

While PSG have continued to spend, many of their rivals are feeling the effects of a tough financial market struggling to recover from the collapse of a mammoth television deal late last year.

Is silverware inevitable then for Mauricio Pochettino's men? Stats Perform takes a look at the state of play in France...

THE RICH GET RICHER

Few teams in Europe have recruited as impressively as PSG ahead of the new season, but many of the changes might not be immediately evident in Ligue 1.

Take Sergio Ramos, for example. PSG may have lost their domestic crown last term, but their repeated failures in the Champions League are of primary concern. Ramos should help to fix that.

Few players can match the centre-back's European pedigree. Following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure in 2018, Real Madrid won 10 of the 15 Champions League games Ramos featured in and only four of the 13 he missed.

It is likely he will be the man for the big occasion again in Paris. Now 35 and having played only 15 games in LaLiga last season due to injury, that might mean limited Ligue 1 outings.

Likewise, Gianluigi Donnarumma's role is not entirely clear. He was the standout player at Euro 2020 but must now compete with Keylor Navas, who prevented 8.1 Ligue 1 goals last season according to Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) data – the third-best mark in Europe's top five leagues.

 

Georginio Wijnaldum is a solid addition but unlikely to move the needle, although Achraf Hakimi should give PSG a new dimension. The wing-back has been involved in 30 goals (12 goals, 18 assists) since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, trailing only Robin Gosens (34) among defenders in the top leagues.

However, if Mauricio Pochettino prioritises the Champions League, Moise Kean – 13 goals in 26 league games last season but now back at Everton – might be a miss.

LILLE A LEADING CONTENDER

It was anticipated Lille's key men would be picked off following their title win and that did happen to an extent. Mike Maignan left for Milan, replacing Donnarumma, and Boubakary Soumare for Leicester City. Coach Christophe Galtier is now at Nice.

But Lille have retained their strike force in Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David along with centre-back pairing Jose Fonte and Sven Botman – two old-and-young combinations.

Fonte and Botman were particularly impressive last term, leading a defence that conceded a league-low 23 goals. They both started last week's Trophee des Champions triumph over PSG, the third time since the start of last season the capital club have failed to net against Lille.

They were not the only club to end 2020-21 with momentum, though. Monaco collected a league-high 51 points from their 21 games in 2021, while only Lille (11) have conceded fewer than their 17 this year.

Stretching that form out across an entire campaign to put PSG under pressure is no simple task, but Monaco have Ligue 1's form man in Aleksandr Golovin.

With five goals and eight assists in 969 minutes in 2021, Golovin is averaging a goal involvement every 75 minutes in Ligue 1 – the best rate among players with 200 minutes or more.

 

MAKING MOVES

Money may be in short supply throughout the division, but PSG are not quite alone in spending ahead of the new season. Rennes and Nice are looking to climb back into the top-four picture.

Rennes finished sixth last term after ex-Lyon man Bruno Genesio arrived with 11 games of the season remaining, finding the side winless in eight and stuck in mid-table.

A record-breaking run lifted Rennes into a European place. No coach in their history can match Genesio's points-per-game average (1.8) or win rate (54.6 per cent).

His reward was significant expenditure on centre-back Loic Bade, joining the third-best defence in the league (40 goals conceded), and forward Kamaldeen Sulemana.

Meanwhile, Nice will hope their own coaching change has a similar impact. Galtier has also been backed, with Jean-Clair Todibo and Calvin Stengs among his recruits.

Perhaps creator Stengs can get Kasper Dolberg firing again after a disappointing six-goal season.

No player in the Eredivisie last term underperformed their expected goals (xG) tally by as wide a margin as Stengs (9.3 xG, five assists), who will hope to find more clinical team-mates in France.

 

Monaco have confirmed the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Jean Lucas from fellow Ligue 1 side Lyon.

The 23-year-old has signed a five-year deal at the Stade Louis II and is reported to have cost Monaco €11million.

Jean Lucas spent two seasons with Lyon but made just 25 appearances for Les Gones in all competitions and was loaned to Brest for the second half of last season.

He has 67 top-flight games under his belt in Brazil and France, having also previously played for Flamengo and Santos, scoring three goals and assisting five more across those matches.

Monaco announced the signing on their official website on Monday and Jean Lucas said: "I am proud to join AS Monaco, one of the biggest clubs in Ligue 1. 

"The club had a great season and will be fighting for a place in the Champions League group stage. I am happy to have the opportunity to contribute to this sort of growth." 

Monaco begin their 2021-22 campaign on Tuesday with the first leg of their Champions League third-qualifying round tie against Sparta Prague.

Aaron Ramsey has not set the world on fire since joining Juventus from Arsenal two years ago.

It has been reported in Italy that the Serie A club are ready to listen to offers.

Ramsey reportedly earns £250,000 per week and Juve are said to be keen to ease that burden.

 

TOP STORY - SPURS SHOCK MOVE FOR RAMSEY

Tottenham are lining up a shock move for former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, claims The Sun.

Juventus may be looking to offload the Wales international, who has made 46 league appearances in two seasons in Turin.

Tottenham's managing director of football Fabio Paratici is keen to bring Ramsey back to London to team up with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham have ramped up their bid to sign Atalanta centre-back Cristian Romero who will cost around £40million (€46m), according to The Telegraph.

- Marca claims Inter, Sampdoria and Genoa are monitoring Real Madrid's 23-year-old striker Luka Jovic.

- Monaco's Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic has agreed to join Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin on a deal until 2024, reports Sky Sport.

- The Telegraph reports that Newcastle United  are keen on signing Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe, with a loan or permanent move discussed.

- Sky Sports claims West Ham are still interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who spent last season on loan at Fulham.

- Italian clubs Lazio and Napoli,  along with Spanish outfit Villarreal,  fancy Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri, reports Sky Sports.

Milan have announced the signing of defender Fode Ballo-Toure from Monaco on a four-year deal.

The Senegal international, who emerged through Paris Saint-Germain's academy and has also previously represented Lille, is reported to have cost Milan an initial €4.2million.

Former France youth player Ballo-Toure joined Monaco from fellow Ligue 1 side Lille in January 2019 and made 74 appearances for Les Monegasques in all competitions. That includes 24 outings in Ligue 1 last season, albeit just six of those being starts. 

He ranked particularly highly for crosses, with his average of 5.4 balls played into the box per 90 minutes bettered only by Sebastien Corchia (5.9), Leo Dubois (6.6) Clement Michelin (6.6) and Jonathan Clauss (7.7) among defenders to have played more than twice in Ligue 1 last season.

 

Ballo-Toure has been handed the number five jersey at San Siro and is expected to rival Theo Hernandez for a starting spot under Stefano Pioli this coming season.

Milan confirmed Ballo-Toure's arrival on their official website on Sunday, the 24-year-old becoming their fifth signing of the close season.

The Rossoneri have also brought in Mike Maignan and Olivier Giroud, while Fikayo Tomori and Sandro Tonali had their respective loan deals made permanent.

Pioli's side, whose second-place finish last season was their highest since 2011-12, kicked off their pre-season programme with a 6-0 win over Pro Sesto on Saturday.

Chelsea may have been European champions in 2021, but they have not won the Premier League since 2017.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly ready to loosen the purse strings to end their league title wait.

Chelsea have been linked with several big-name signings this off-season.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA RELEASE FUNDS TO LAND HAALAND

Chelsea are ready to ramp up their bid to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland now Euro 2020 is over.

Bild reports Abramovich has released the funds required to lure Haaland to London following an impressive 18 months in Germany.

Dortmund have reportedly told Chelsea it will take £150m (€176m) to sign the Norwegian, and Chelsea may sell Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Tammy Abraham to fund the move.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham have set their sights on Southampton forward Danny Ings, making him a priority, claims The Telegraph. Manchester City are also apparently interested.

- Daily Express reports Chelsea are making plans to sign Antoine Griezmann on loan from Barcelona, with the Blaugrana attempting to reduce their wage bill in line with LaLiga salary cap rules.

- Another Barcelona player potentially on the move is Clement Lenglet. According to Sport, new Everton manager Rafa Benitez wants to build his defence around the France international.

- Monaco left-back Fode Ballo-Toure is close to signing with Milan, having already agree personal terms, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Fabrizio Romano also claims Roma are interested in signing Alex Telles on loan from Manchester United to replace the injured Leonardo Spinazzola.

Following her victory in the triple jump at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco today, Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts said she feels like she is on track for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics that gets underway later this month.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce admits she was not happy to lose to Elaine Thompson-Herah at the 2021 Gyulai István Memorial in Hungary on Tuesday but says she has time to fix what went wrong in the race.

Thompson-Herah, the 2016 Olympic champion, stormed to victory in 10.71 to turn the tables on her compatriot and fierce rival, who had beaten her at the Jamaica Olympic trials on the night of Friday, June 25.

“If I am being honest, nobody is happy when they lose. It is what it is,” said Fraser-Pryce, who ran 10.82 for second place in Hungary.

“You know what you need to do, you know what happened in the race and you know what needs to be fixed and I think you have that time to fix it.

“You can always go back, you can watch the race and where your downfall was and how you work to make sure that it doesn’t happen in the Olympics. It’s a moment for learning and you use it to fuel you for the next one.”

However, the four-time world 100m champion said she is excited about the depth of talent among the Jamaican women that currently has several of the best female sprinters in the world including Shericka Jackson, Briana Williams, Kemba Nelson and Thompson-Herah.

With regard to the men, she believes patience is required.

“The men always have trouble. There are always some issues with the men,” she joked.

“On the female side, I think females are a lot more competitive so it’s almost as if its innate for them to always want to compete and do what’s necessary while for the men, I don’t know what’s the issue, but I definitely think that eventually, it will work itself out.

“It always happens. Before we had Usain, we had a lull, so I think we just have to give it time and I think they have to want it more for themselves than anything else and I think they don’t need to think about filling Usain’s shoes because those are huge shoes to fill. They just have to focus on them and what they’re able to do to show what they have to offer to the sport.”

Fraser-Pryce competes over 200m at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco today. She will go up against Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Marie Josee Ta Lou in what is expected to be a competitive race.

 

 

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is hopeful she will improve on her 200m lifetime best when she competes at the Diamond League’s Herculis meet in Monaco where she goes up against Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Marie Josee Ta Lou on Friday.

Bahrain's Salwa Eid Nasser, the 2019 400m world champion, will miss this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, as she has been banned for two years after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) today partially upheld the decision issued by the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal on October 14, 2020.

The ban takes effect today.

However, her results from the 2019 World Championships in Doha will remain.

“Ms Salwa Eid Naser is sanctioned with a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on the date of notification of this award, with credit given for the period of provisional suspension already served between 4 June 2020 and 14 October 2020,” CAS said.

“All competitive results obtained by Ms Salwa Eid Naser from November 25, 2019, through to the date of notification of this award shall be disqualified, with all of the resulting consequences, including forfeiture of any medals, titles, ranking points and prize and appearance money.”

She will also have to pay 5000 Swiss francs to World Athletics and to the World Anti-Doping Agency as a contribution towards their costs connection with these arbitration proceedings.”

In the wake of the ruling, the attorneys representing the athlete Dr Emir Crowne, Mr Matthew Gayle and Ms Kristie Irving have expressed concern about a part of the CAS ruling which can have serious implications for athletes. "A majority of the panel says it is okay for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to re-characterize charges in the middle of an appeal. So, the majority of the panel said WADA can re-characterize a missed test as a filing failure if they want to. With all due respect to the majority of the panel, that can't be right. That cannot be a fair principle in any court system," Dr Crowne told Sportsmax.TV this morning.

The Nigerian-born 400m runner was charged with four alleged whereabouts failures by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in June 2020. These included filing failures on March 16, 2019, and three missed tests on March 12 and April 12 as well as January 24, 2020.

However, the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal ruled the alleged violation in April 2019 should not stand which meant Naser had not missed three tests.

Naser won the world title in a time of 48.14, the third-fastest time in history defeating Shanuae-Miller Uibo who ran a lifetime best of 48.37 and Shericka Jackson who also clocked a personal best of 49.47 for third.

 

Lille start the defence of their Ligue 1 title at Metz and Paris Saint-Germain are away to newly-promoted Troyes in their first game of the 2021-22 season.

Les Dogues sensationally dethroned PSG last month, but head coach Christophe Galtier stepped down after they were crowned champions.

Lille are yet to appoint a successor to Galtier and whoever the new boss is will take the champions to Metz on the weekend of August 8.

They will face Rennes on the final day of the campaign and come up against PSG for the first time at the Parc des Princes on October 31 before facing Mauricio Pochettino's side at home on February 6.

PSG are also on the road in their first match and finish the season at home to Metz on May 21.

Monaco, who finished third last season, will be at home to Nantes in their opening match and Lyon entertain Brest, with Marseille at Montpellier.

PSG will have home advantage when they face Monaco for the first time next season in a match scheduled for December 12, then travel to the Principality on March 20.

Clermont face an away encounter with Bordeaux first after going up along with Ligue 2 champions Troyes.

 

After a year's delay, Euro 2020 will finally get under way when Italy take on Turkey in Rome on Friday, June 11.

Some of the world's top talents will be on display in the month-long tournament, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane.

But away from the elite players, there are a clutch of others looking to overshadow those aforementioned names and leave their own mark on the pan-European competition.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform picks out eight under-the-radar stars – those that would not necessarily be considered as one of the favourites for individual honours before a ball is kicked – ahead of the tournament.

 

Federico Chiesa (Italy and Juventus)

Juventus may have endured one of their worst campaigns in recent memory last time out, but Chiesa can hold his head up high after impressing in his first year at the Allianz Stadium.

He was the man for the big occasions, scoring a couple of goals in January's league victory over Milan and the winner in Juve's Coppa Italia triumph against Atalanta.

The 23-year-old was a regular threat down both flanks ​– only Benevento forward Riccardo Improta (77, 29.87 per cent) had more open-play crosses in Serie A last season with a higher success rate than Chiesa (69, 27.54 per cent).

That ability to both create and score goals, plus his never-say-die spirit – best embodied by his three goals in two legs of the Champions League last-16 knockout defeat to Porto – means he is already a fan favourite in Turin.

"He tries to ignite the fans at home on the couch to let them feel the game like the players in the pitch," former Juve striker Fabrizio Ravanelli told Stats Perform. 

"He always sends a strong message to Juventus fans, the true DNA of Juventus of never giving up like it says in the motto: 'Till the end'."

 

Alexander Isak (Sweden and Real Sociedad)

Whisper it quietly, but Sweden may have a new superstar forward emerging to rival the legendary figure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Isak's 17 strikes in 34 league appearances for Real Sociedad last season saw him become the Swede with the most goals in a single LaLiga campaign, surpassing Ibrahimovic's 16 for Barcelona in 2009-10.

He may be tall and blessed with great technical ability, but Isak is a lot different to Ibrahimovic – ruled out of Euro 2020 with a knee injury – in terms of his playing style.

And with clubs such as Barcelona and Manchester City reportedly keeping a close eye on the 21-year-old, it may well be one day that other youngsters from the Scandinavian country are described as 'the next Isak'.

 

Unai Simon (Spain and Athletic Bilbao)

Luis Enrique has not shied away from putting his faith in youth at the expense of those who have been there and done it, with veteran centre-back Sergio Ramos arguably the most high-profile omission from any squad at Euro 2020.

That is also true between the sticks, where 23-year-old Athletic Bilbao stopper Simon has usurped David de Gea to take control of the number-one spot.

Unlike Manchester United keeper De Gea and Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has not made the cut for Spain, Simon played regularly for his club side in 2020-21.

Indeed, the only Spanish goalkeepers to play more minutes last term in Europe's top five leagues than Simon (3,330) were Alex Remiro and Fernando Pacheco of Real Sociedad and Deportivo Alaves respectively.

Simon saved 63.3 per cent of the shots he faced in LaLiga in 2020-21, compared to 65.22 per cent for De Gea in 26 Premier League games, and the six-cap keeper will need to be at his best if Spain are to banish their demons from the 2018 World Cup.

 

Jamal Musiala (Germany and Bayern Munich)

Musiala switched international allegiance from England to Germany four months ago in the same week he became Bayern's youngest Champions League goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 363 days.

Despite strong competition for places, Musiala featured regularly for the German champions last season with 35 appearances in all competitions, albeit the majority of those outings being as a substitute.

The former Chelsea product made his first two appearances for Germany in March's World Cup qualifiers and only adds to a plethora of options available to Joachim Low in the final third.

Musiala may not be considered a regular just yet, but the stats suggest Low should perhaps consider using the youngster from the beginning of games.

Bayern's win rate increased from 62.5 per cent without Musiala in their side in the Bundesliga last term to 73.1 per cent with him, while their average goals for climbed from 2.5 to 3.0, and their passing accuracy in the final third went from 72.4 to 74.1.

Not so much a lucky omen, but a player who is clearly already good enough to make a telling impact on even the biggest sides.

 

Marcus Thuram (France and Borussia Monchengladbach)

No nation boasts a collection of forwards quite like France, who can call upon Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Wissam Ben Yedder, Thomas Lemar, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud and the returning Karim Benzema.

What chance does Borussia Monchengladbach forward Thuram have, then, of ousting any of those players from the side?

While the 23-year-old may not be used as a regular starter, he will provide an intriguing option for spoiled-for-choice head coach Didier Deschamps to choose from off the bench for group games against Germany, Portugal and Hungary.

Thuram, the son of World Cup winner Lilian, certainly knows how to make the most of his minutes on the field and has the ability to score via a range of different ways.

All eight of his Bundesliga goals last term were scored inside the box, but they were shared between his right foot (three), left foot (two), head (two) and other means (one).

In fact, he was one of just nine forwards to start 20 games or fewer in Europe's top five leagues last season and still score more than once with his right foot.

 

Aleksandr Golovin (Russia and Monaco)

Monaco midfielder Golovin was plagued by injuries and illness in 2020-21 but still played a starring role in Monaco's unlikely Ligue 1 title bid that went down to the final game.

The 25-year-old found the net five times and set up nine more in 21 appearances, three of those goals coming in one game against Nimes in early February.

That made Golovin the first Russian to score a hat-trick in Europe's top five leagues since ex-Fulham striker Pavel Pogrebnyak in 2012.

He is undoubtedly the key creative talent in the Russia squad and, in a group that contains a defensively-strong Denmark and Belgium, plus Finland, it will likely be the Monaco man that holds the key to his side's hopes of progression.

His effectiveness with set-piece deliveries could be particularly vital.

 

 

Yusuf Yazici (Turkey and Lille)

Lille's incredible Ligue 1 triumph was down to a collective effort, but a few players certainly stood out for the shock title winners.

Look no further than breakthrough star Yazici, whose return of a goal every 153.71 minutes was the fourth best of any midfielder with at least five goals in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21, trailing just Joe Willock, Lars Stindl and Musiala.

The 24-year-old scored seven league goals in total and netted the same amount in the Europa League, where Lille made it to the knockout stages before being eliminated by Ajax.

That includes a couple of three-goal hauls in the group stage as he became the first player to score an away hat-trick against Milan in all competitions since Rivaldo in October 2000 for Barcelona.

With experience of scoring in big matches and winning silverware with rank outsiders, Yazici will now be looking to guide many people's dark horses Turkey deep into Euro 2020.

 

Ryan Gravenberch (Netherlands and Ajax)

A member of the Netherlands' Under-17s European Championship-winning squad in 2018, Gravenberch has gone from strength to strength in the three years since and is now a regular in Ajax's central midfield.

Gravenberch also has two Eredivisie titles and two Dutch Cups to his name to go with that age-grade continental triumph, all before he even turned 19 last month.

The teenage talent, another product of Ajax's fabled academy, made his senior international debut earlier this year and has a chance of starting – or at least playing a prominent part in – the Oranje's quest for a second European Championship crown.

If nothing else, Gravenberch will certainly bring a level of calmness to the Dutch midfield.

He had a pass accuracy rate of 87.21 per cent in the Eredivisie last season – the only midfielders younger in Europe's top five leagues to play 20 or more times with a better return were Pedri (87.66) and Lucas Gourna-Douath (87.29). 

Paris Saint-Germain are no longer champions of France after Lille completed their stunning march to Ligue 1 glory on Sunday.

PSG headed into the final matchday with some hope remaining and upheld their end of the bargain, sweeping aside struggling Brest 2-0 – Kylian Mbappe on target after Neymar missed a penalty.

But Lille and their talisman Burak Yilmaz saw off Angers 2-1 to prevail by a point.

Considering the meagre victory margin, it is hard not to conclude that PSG's fate was sealed by a dreadful record against Lille, Monaco and Lyon, their fellow top-four incumbents this season.

In a mini-league made up of all the games played between those clubs, PSG came bottom in 2020-21 due to a mere four points from six matches.

Here, we take a closer look at how the Parisians let their domestic dominance slip.

Monaco 3-2 PSG (November 20)

PSG looked set for a routine win as Kylian Mbappe tore through to open the scoring against his former club before making it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

But Kevin Volland poached a brace and Cesc Fabregas, whose introduction at the interval proved key, converted a penalty six minutes from time. Abdou Diallo was sent off for bringing down the former Arsenal man.

It was the first time PSG had lost a Ligue 1 game after leading by at least two goals since going down 4-2 to Bastia in January 2015.

 

PSG 0-1 Lyon (December 13)

The defending champions had seen Lille replace them at the top of the standings before kick-off and were unable to respond in a lacklustre performance when they only managed one shot on target.

As such, Tino Kadewere's 35th-minute finish after PSG carelessly gave away possession was enough for Lille to leave the capital with three points.

 

Lille 0-0 PSG (December 20)

Pressure was mounting on Thomas Tuchel after that defeat and PSG were similarly listless at Lille a week later.

Again, their all-star attack only hit the target once as Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan bolstered his eventual collection of 21 top-flight clean sheets – the best in Europe's big five leagues this season.

PSG got back on track with a 4-0 win over Strasbourg but, on Christmas Eve, Tuchel was sacked.

PSG 0-2 Monaco (February 21)

PSG were starting to look like a team reborn under Mauricio Pochettino heading into their return fixture with Monaco fixture having thrashed Barcelona 4-1 in the Champions League.

They were brought back down to earth by Niko Kovac's Monaco, as Sofiane Diop headed them into an early lead and Guillermo Maripan slotted home in the 51st minute.

Once more, PSG were shot-shy on the big occasion and Monaco became the first team to complete the Ligue 1 double over them since Nancy in 2011-12.

 

Lyon 2-4 PSG (March 21)

Following another home slip-up against Nantes, PSG belatedly started to show their teeth domestically, dispatching Lille 3-0 in the Coupe de France.

On the back of that triumph, they travelled to Lyon and were in rampant form. Mbappe gave PSG a 15th-minute lead and Danilo Pereira slammed home when the hosts failed to clear a corner.

Angel Di Maria's wicked free-kick delivery from the right went straight in shortly after half-time before Mbappe charged on to Marco Verratti's long ball and become the youngest player to reach 100 Ligue 1 goals. Islam Slimani and Maxwell Cornet restored a touch for pride for Lyon.

 

PSG 0-1 Lille (April 3)

A week on from that victory, PSG erred decisively as Lille claimed their first win at Parc des Princes since 1996.

Jonathan David's deflected 20th-minute effort from Jonathan Ikone's cutback was enough to be decisive on the day and in the final reckoning, considering Les Dogues ended up as champions by such a fine margin.

Neymar was sent off after a late clash with Tiago Djalo as the match and, ultimately, the title slipped away from Paris.

Kylian Mbappe is delighted to get the chance to play alongside Karim Benzema at Euro 2020, declaring there are not many better players than the Real Madrid forward.

Benzema, 33, earned his first France call-up in over five years on Tuesday when he was included in Didier Deschamps' squad for the delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

Mbappe, meanwhile, continued his excellent season with a brilliant display in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 win over Monaco in the Coupe de France final on Wednesday, teeing up Mauro Icardi's opener and scoring himself late on.

It was the eighth direct goal involvement of Mbappe's Coupe de France campaign (five games), topping his previous best of seven in the competition, set in 2017-18.

Yet the main focus in the post-match news conference was on Benzema's return to Les Bleus' squad.

"I'm very happy. I've always said that I wanted to play with great players," said Mbappe.

"Benzema, I didn't [play with him]. There is not many [players] above him in the world. He will bring us a lot.

"He played at Madrid for 10 years, the pressure, he knows, he has the experience and the talent above all. The big players adapt. I'm sure he will adapt very quickly."

Mbappe was also asked if he would be in place to help PSG push on for a 15th Coupe de France trophy next season.

"We must take advantage of this title," he answered with a smile, deflecting the question somewhat. 

"Look at all the people who are happy! This is most important. And I am the happiest!"

PSG have won two trophies this season under Mauricio Pochettino, and the Ligue 1 title race is going down to the wire. Should they beat Brest on Sunday, and Lille drop points against Angers, the capital club will snatch the top-flight crown.

"We work every day to have this type of emotion, reward and recognition," Mbappe added.

"It's the work of a whole group, a whole staff, who work every day for us, for the club. The supporters, the title is for them too.

"When you play for Paris Saint-Germain, one of the best clubs in the world, the biggest in the country, every title counts."

Monaco boss Niko Kovac, meanwhile, said there was one major difference between the teams at Stade de France.

"The difference tonight is Mbappe," he said.

"He is one of the best players in the world, if not the best at the moment. All the clubs are fighting to have him. We had him, we no longer have him."

Paris Saint-Germain retained their Coupe de France crown as Kylian Mbappe turned in a star display in a 2-0 win over Monaco at the Stade de France.

Without the suspended Neymar, PSG relied on Mbappe in Paris and the former Monaco prodigy delivered with an assist for Mauro Icardi's opener before rounding off the win himself late on.

Trailing from the 19th minute, Monaco huffed and puffed, but the closest Niko Kovac's team came to an equaliser was when Gelson Martins' deflected cross clipped the crossbar.

Monaco's defeat in their first appearance in a Coupe de France final in 11 years was sealed with nine minutes remaining, Mbappe dinking home to seal PSG's 14th triumph in the competition.

Neymar may have been missing for Mauricio Pochettino's side, but PSG's other key man was at the heart of their opener.

Having pounced on Axel Disasi's heavy touch following a goal-kick, Mbappe kept his cool to tee up Icardi for a simple finish into an empty net.

Alessandro Florenzi drew a save out of Radoslaw Majecki as PSG pressed for a second, though Keylor Navas had to smother Kevin Volland's header at the other end.

Wissam Ben Yedder will be at Euro 2020 after another excellent season, but the France forward – and Monaco's talisman – was replaced after an hour without having registered a shot as PSG continued to keep Kovac's men at arm's length.

Fortune was on PSG's side with 20 minutes remaining – Gelson's cross, which took a deflection, hitting the woodwork after looping over Navas.

Krepin Diatta snatched at an effort from inside the area, though Monaco looked short of ideas, and moments after striking the bar with a long-range chip, Mbappe made sure of the win when he raced onto Angel Di Maria's pass and lofted in a neat finish.

Page 5 of 7
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.