PSG got what they deserved at Rennes, admits Pochettino as Ligue 1 title hopes fade

By Sports Desk May 09, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino has not given up on winning Ligue 1, but conceded Paris Saint-Germain got no less than they deserved against Rennes as their title hopes took a hit following a 1-1 draw.

Neymar celebrated his new four-year deal with PSG by scoring a contentious penalty to put Pochettino's team ahead on Sunday, only for Serhou Guirassy's fine header to seal a point for Rennes.

PSG were in fact lucky not to lose, with Presnel Kimpembe seeing red late on and Keylor Navas pulling out some impressive saves to keep it at 1-1.

The draw leaves PSG three points behind Lille with two games remaining – no team has ever been crowned Ligue 1 champions with such a gap at this stage – and the title may well be wrapped up next week should the capital club drop points against Reims and the leaders beat Saint-Etienne.

Indeed, it is not just the title PSG have to worry about, with their place in the Champions League no certainty.

PSG edged possession (57.8 per cent) against Rennes, but their tally of 12 attempts was seven fewer than the hosts managed, while only four of them were on target – Bruno Genesio's European hopefuls, who were without key midfielders Steven Nzonzi and Eduardo Camavinga, managing 10 in total.

"A lot can still happen, we are disappointed, but we have to give credit to Rennes, who had a very good game," PSG head coach Pochettino in his post-match news conference.

"We have to win the next matches to hope for something. We were not better than Rennes over 90 minutes, we did not deserve to take three points.

"It's a season with a lot of ups and downs, we arrived four months ago to help the club. A club like PSG must always think in the future. Every club thinks of improving, decisions will be made at the end of the season, we always think of improving."

While Neymar toiled, he was not helped by the absence of Kylian Mbappe, who was suspended – albeit he has been struggling with an injury which kept him from featuring against Manchester City in the Champions League midweek as PSG lost in the semi-finals.

Asked if Mbappe's absence was a major factor in the poor performance, Pochettino replied: "We must not think that we did not win because of an absence."

PSG have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight Ligue 1 fixtures, conceding 11 goals in total, making it their longest such run since a streak of 11 top-flight matches back in 2012.

The frustration boiled over heading towards the dying embers, with France centre-back Kimpembe lunging in on Jeremy Doku and receiving a straight red.

"We see frustration with the result, he arrives late. We are professionals, we know our responsibilities, our obligations," Pochettino said.

PSG captain Marquinhos, however, did not hold back.

"We will play what we have left to play. We have a Coupe de France to go for and the championship to continue to put pressure on Lille," he told Canal+.

"We have to go 100 per cent. It is unacceptable to leave points like that when we are Paris Saint-Germain. It can happen once, twice, but it's starting to happen a lot. We have to be sincere, it's not our best season, we weren't very strong. We have to do a lot better at the end of the season."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: City line up Grealish move, PSG want Pogba Rumour Has It: City line up Grealish move, PSG want Pogba

    Jack Grealish was the player England fans wanted to see during Euro 2020.

    Now a move to a bigger Premier League club might be on the cards.

    Grealish is reportedly moving closer to leaving Aston Villa.

     

    TOP STORY – CITY EYE GREALISH SWOOP

    It seems increasingly unlikely Aston Villa will be able to hold onto Jack Grealish.

    The England winger has agreed to personal terms with Manchester City, according to a Football Insider report.

    Though he grew up a Villa fan and has spent his entire career with the club, save for a season on loan to Notts County, Grealish is in demand among the Premier League's big-money clubs.

    City reportedly are preparing a £90million offer that would be difficult for Villa to refuse.

    ROUND-UP

    - With Paul Pogba and Manchester United at a stalemate in contract talks, the Telegraph says Paris Saint-Germain believe they can sign the midfielder with a £43million bid.

    - Alexandre Lacazette is entering his final year under contract with Arsenal but the Gunners are ready to move on. According to the Sun, they are hoping to net £15m for Lacazette after paying £52m to sign him four years ago.

    - Arsenal remain interested in a move for James Maddison, reports the Mirror, and they could explore a swap deal with Leicester City to get it done.

    - PSG want to keep Moise Kean on a permanent deal after his year on loan from Everton, but Juventus also are interested, Le 10 Sport reports.

  • Saints' position among offensive elite under threat without Michael Thomas Saints' position among offensive elite under threat without Michael Thomas

    The New Orleans Saints have long since enjoyed the benefit of continuity on offense in Sean Payton era, but in 2021 they will have to contend with some significant changes.

    For the first time since the 2005 campaign, the Saints will begin a season with a quarterback not named Drew Brees as their starter.

    Brees' retirement was regarded by some as overdue but, if his decision to ride off into the sunset was not viewed as a damaging one for New Orleans, the loss of the receiver with whom he had built a devastating rapport certainly is a significant blow.

    NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported on Friday that Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the season having undergone ankle ligament surgery in June.

    Thomas was limited to just seven games last year because of persistent ankle injuries and the procedure to fix those problems will, at least in the opening weeks, rob the Saints' 2021 starting quarterback of a two-time first-team All-Pro who has blossomed from 2016 second-round pick into one of the most dependable wideouts in the NFL.

    Renowned for his route-running and his proficiency in making contested catches, Thomas produced at a historic level in 2019.

    He broke the single-season receptions record with 149, racking up a career-high 1,725 receiving yards at an average of 107.8 per game.

    Per Stats Perform data, Thomas registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the ball is catchable, on 76.1 per cent of his 184 targets.

    That was the fourth-highest rate among wide receivers in the NFL. Only one player who finished above him, Corey Davis (69), had even 50 targets.

    Thomas was tied for the second-most burn yards per route, trailing only Stefon Diggs (3.9) with an average of 3.6.

    He got open on 83.2 per cent of his targets, though he did so with an average depth of target of 8.1 yards, illustrating the Saints' dependence on shorter passes in the latter stages of Brees' career.

    Thomas will now miss out on the chance to quickly develop an even better understanding with the two quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, vying to be Brees' successor.

    The frustration of that for the Saints will be two-fold. Winston's aggressiveness -- he was second in the NFL in air yards per attempt (10.7) in his last season as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 -- could unlock Thomas' potential as a downfield receiver to a greater extent than Brees did.

    Meanwhile, Thomas' dependability would be a significant aid to an interception-prone quarterback or to a passer in Hill whose only four pro starts came last season.

    Instead of enjoying those possible benefits, with Thomas on the sideline, Payton and the Saints have the imposing challenge of maintaining their offensive consistency without a Hall of Fame quarterback and without their All-Pro wide receiver.

    The Saints are used to life among the NFL's offensive elite, but with the two most important parts of the equation on that side of the ball out of the picture, at least for the start of 2021, they face being removed from the top table.

  • Sri Lanka squeeze home to deny India series sweep in Colombo Sri Lanka squeeze home to deny India series sweep in Colombo

    Sri Lanka claimed a much-needed victory in the third and final match of the ODI series against India, chasing down a revised target of 227 with three wickets to spare in Colombo.

    Opener Avishka Fernando made 76 and, despite a late wobble, Sri Lanka sealed just their second victory in 11 completed 50-over fixtures, with this their first success since beating Bangladesh in late May.

    A much-changed India had reached 147-3 before a lengthy rain break changed the complexion of the innings. Following the resumption, they lost their final seven wickets for 68 runs to be bowled out for 225.

    Prithvi Shaw (49), debutant Sanju Samson (46) and Suryakumar Yadav (40) all made useful contributions, while Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama claimed three wickets apiece for the hosts.

    Sri Lanka's reply included a maiden half-century in the one-day format for Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who reached the milestone with successive boundaries during a second-wicket partnership worth 109.

    Krishnappa Gowtham - another new name included in the India XI - eventually ended the stand, dismissing Rajapaksa for 65 in his opening over, while the impressive Fernando departed for 76 with victory in sight.

    Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka had departed for a first-ball duck too, but Ramesh Mendis' unbeaten 15 saw the hosts across the line with 48 balls remaining.


    Fresh faces for India

    India had the chance to equal their record for most consecutive ODI victories against Sri Lanka, having gone into the contest on a five-match winning streak. However, a side featuring no fewer than five debutants was unable to seal a sweep.

    Still, wicketkeeper-batsman Samson impressed in a run-a-ball innings that included five fours and a six, while fellow new faces Chetan Sakariya and Rahul Chahar both claimed two wickets.

    Moving on up

    This result was timely for Sri Lanka – and not just because of their recent wretched run of form in the white-ball format.

    They sat second from bottom in the ICC's Cricket World Cup Super League prior to the game, with only Zimbabwe below them in the standings. This win lifts them one place, above the Netherlands, as they battle to qualify for the 2023 50-over tournament, which will be held in India.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.