Tuchel welcomes PSG's Saint-Etienne home tie after comfortable win at Le Mans

By Sports Desk December 18, 2019

Thomas Tuchel declared himself pleased after Paris Saint-Germain were drawn against Saint-Etienne in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue.

PSG saw off second-tier opponents Le Mans 4-1 in Wednesday's last-16 tie at MMArena to remain on course for a record-extending ninth success in the competition.

The Ligue 1 champions thrashed Saint-Etienne 4-0 in last weekend's league clash and head coach Tuchel had no complaints about being paired with Claude Puel's men in the domestic cup.

"It's a good draw because the match will be played at home," he told Canal+. "It's good that we don't have to travel.

"The main thing is playing at home, which is easier to organise and easier for the players. We have a lot of travelling in January and February so it's good to play at home."

Pablo Sarabia, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Kylian Mbappe gave PSG a 3-0 half-time lead against Le Mans, who pulled one back through Harrison Manzala early in the second half.

Angel Di Maria ensured a safe passage through to the last eight with his strike from range, but Tuchel felt PSG could have added more goals to their tally.

"We played players who have lacked rhythm, so I did not expect too much from them," he said. "We could have scored five or six, but we lost pace in the second half.

"We are now into the quarter-finals and there were no injuries, which was essential."

Choupo-Moting was brought into the side as one of eight changes and was on the scoresheet with his close-range finish shortly before half-time.

"When you win 4-1, it's important to be positive," he said. "We played in a good stadium with a good atmosphere.

"We were effective in the first period with three goals that made the game easy, but we must be even more dangerous."

Le Mans were the final remaining team from outside of Ligue 1 after eliminating Nice in the previous round, and coach Richard Dezire took positives from the run to the last 16.

"It's a match that will serve us well for the future," he said. "We beat the stadium attendance record today. Three or four years ago, we played at La Pincenardiere. 

"Today, we sold out the stadium to face PSG and we could have filled it three times. We are progressing at all levels. We know we still have gaps but we are working to correct them. The fundamental objective is to stay up this season."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Ronaldo not set for Man Utd return, Barca target Bogarde Rumour Has It: Ronaldo not set for Man Utd return, Barca target Bogarde

    Is a Manchester United reunion on the cards for Cristiano Ronaldo?

    Ronaldo's future at Juventus has dominated headlines this season.

    But returning to Old Trafford is reportedly not in the pipeline.

     

    TOP STORY – NO UNITED REUNION FOR RONALDO

    Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not be returning to Manchester United, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

    A report earlier this month claimed United were looking to re-sign Ronaldo, who won three Premier League titles and the Champions League in six years at Old Trafford before joining Real Madrid in 2009.

    But Romano says United are focusing on different players and not Ronaldo – also a reported target for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

    ROUND-UP

    Barcelona are monitoring Hoffenheim centre-back Melayro Bogarde, claims Sky Italia. The 18-year-old has also captured the attention of Milan.

    - Calciomercato reports Milan want to sign Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez at the end of the season. Vazquez is out of contract following the 2020-21 campaign.

    Everton are in pole position to sign Juventus outcast Sami Khedira, says Calciomercato. The German midfielder looks set to leave the Serie A champions. Carlo Ancelotti's Everton have also been linked with Madrid midfielder Isco. It comes as Football Insider claims the Toffees are eyeing Tottenham trio Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Paulo Gazzaniga.

    - The Express reports Liverpool could sell duo Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri in January. Origi and Shaqiri have struggled for regular game time at Anfield, where the Reds are desperate to bolster their defence amid an injury crisis. Liverpool have been linked with Schalke centre-back Ozan Kabak and Ajax's Perr Schuurs.

    - Estadio Deportivo claims Real Betis are eyeing Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo, who has struggled for game time on loan at Villarreal.

    Milan are a "serious candidate" to sign Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe, reports Milan Live. The Rossoneri are considering an initial loan offer.

  • Diego Maradona dies: The Golden Boy leaves an eternal legacy Diego Maradona dies: The Golden Boy leaves an eternal legacy

    Football has produced few more divisive figures than Diego Maradona.

    The Argentina great died on Wednesday at the age of 60 following a cardiac arrest and, while opinions on his legacy may differ depending on where you live, his remarkable impression on the game is undoubted.

    The abiding image of Maradona for most likely stems from the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England.

    For so many in England, he will forever be remembered for arguably the most controversial goal in the history of football, which saw the diminutive Maradona somehow rise above the comparatively towering figure of Peter Shilton and divert a sliced clearance from Steve Hodge into the empty net with his hand.

    But that act of what can at best be considered deceit did not take away from the majesty of his ultimately decisive second goal, dubbed the Goal of the Century, with the balletic grace with which he weaved past the helpless England defenders before rounding Shilton and slotting home the defining memory of Maradona for his adoring fans in his home country and scores of fans around the world.

    That game perhaps encapsulated the man known as El Pibe de Oro (The Golden Boy). As England striker Gary Lineker, who scored the goal overshadowed by Maradona's brace at Estadio Azteca, said in a tweet paying tribute following news of his death, the Albiceleste legend led a "blessed but troubled life".

    Raised in a poor family in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Maradona's blessings were evident from an early age. At just eight years old, his promise was discovered by a scout, Francisco Cornejo, and he was signed to the youth team of Argentinos Juniors.

    "He did things that I have never seen anyone else do," Cornejo, who died in 2008, later said of Maradona.

    Maradona made his Argentinos debut 10 days before turning 16 and marked it in fitting fashion by nutmegging an opponent within minutes of entering the pitch.

    One hundred and sixteen goals in 166 games for Argentinos followed and resulted in Maradona receiving a dream move to Boca Juniors, though his spell at La Bombonera yielded only one league title and was marked by a difficult relationship with coach Silvio Marzolini before he moved to Barcelona in a world-record transfer in 1982.

    Barca did not see Maradona at his best at the 1982 World Cup in Spain that preceded his debut for the Blaugrana, yet the impact he had on his cohorts at Camp Nou was stark.

    "He had complete mastery of the ball," former team-mate Lobo Carrasco remarked. "When Maradona ran with the ball or dribbled through the defence, he seemed to have the ball tied to his boots."

    His time in Catalonia delivered both brilliance and tumult in equal measure. Maradona became the first Barca player to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabeu in 1983, but sustained a career-threatening ankle injury against Athletic Bilbao and was then involved in a brawl against the same opposition in the 1984 Copa del Rey final that hastened his exit from the club.

    It was perhaps no surprise that the pinnacle of his international career coincided with that of his club career at Napoli, for whom Maradona will forever be an icon.

    After being named player of the tournament at the '86 World Cup, Maradona inspired Napoli to their first Serie A title and triumph in the Coppa Italia. UEFA Cup glory followed in 1989 prior to a second league title a year later.

    Napoli's Stadio San Paolo was the scene of glory for Argentina in a World Cup semi-final win over Italy, in which Maradona scored the ultimately decisive penalty in the shoot-out, though he could not ensure a successful title defence as West Germany prevailed in the final.

    Italian football saw the best of Maradona, whom Franco Baresi described as his toughest opponent - "when he was on form, there was almost no way of stopping him," the Milan legend said.

    Yet it also saw significant off-field struggles and he left Napoli after serving a 15-month ban for failing a drug test for cocaine, battling his addiction to the drug and alcohol until 2004.

    He returned to Argentina by signing for Newell's Old Boys after a turbulent spell with Sevilla, with his international career ended in the wake of a positive test for ephedrine doping during the 1994 World Cup that resulted in him being sent home from the United States.

    Retirement came on the back of a second two-year stint at Boca, but Maradona was rarely out of the spotlight even as he fought addiction and struggles with obesity, undergoing gastric bypass surgery in 2005.

    His post-playing career also saw a string of brief coaching tenures, which included him leading Argentina to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, where they were thumped 4-0 by Germany. Maradona made sure his departure was fittingly acrimonious, levelling accusations of betrayal at the national team's hierarchy.

    Maradona had seemingly found some stability in his coaching career at Gimnasia y Esgrima de la Plata when he was admitted to hospital this month having recently renewed his contract through the 2020-21 season.

    "We live an unforgettable story," Gimnasia posted in a tribute on Twitter.

    Blessed but troubled, tempestuous yet utterly bewitching to watch. Gimnasia's words struck the right chord.

    His story was undeniably unforgettable and it is telling that, despite Lionel Messi's otherworldly exploits, it is Maradona who stands as the symbol of Argentinian football for so many.

    As Messi wrote of Maradona on Instagram: "He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal."

    Whether it's the Hand of God or the Goal of the Century, his presentation to hordes of Napoli fans or that goal celebration at the 94 World Cup. Maradona was the artist behind so many of the game's indelible images. Football is mourning the premature passing of an all-time great, but his legacy and impact will endure for decades to come.

  • Diego Maradona dies: UEFA to hold a minute's silence to honour Argentina great Diego Maradona dies: UEFA to hold a minute's silence to honour Argentina great

    UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says Diego Maradona "set football alight and thrilled fans young and old" and confirmed his death would be marked with a minute's silence prior to all Champions League and Europa League games this week.

    The Argentina great, who played for Barcelona, Napoli and Sevilla as well as Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors and Newell's Old Boys in his homeland, died aged 60 after reportedly suffering a heart attack on Wednesday.

    Ceferin said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Diego Maradona, one of world football’s greatest and most iconic figures.

    "I was in touch recently to wish him well, and this news comes as a considerable shock to me.

    "Diego Maradona achieved greatness as a wonderful player with a genius and charisma of his own. He was a hero in his native Argentina, with whom he enjoyed World Cup glory, and became an eternal idol for the supporters of Napoli, who will never forget the successes he brought to the club during his memorable spell in Italy.

    "He will go down in history as someone who set football alight and thrilled fans young and old with his brilliance and skill. I have instructed UEFA to hold a minute’s silence in memory of Diego at this week’s matches."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.