Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino insisted he is not concerned by the lack of goals from his forwards after the Ligue 1 leaders beat Montpellier 2-0 on Saturday.

PSG preserved their perfect start to the season, Pochettino's men making it eight wins from eight league matches thanks to goals from Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler.

In the continued absence of superstar Lionel Messi (knee), Kylian Mbappe and Neymar wasted chances as midfielder Gueye and winger Draxler stepped up at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe has failed to net his last 13 shots in Ligue 1, his longest drought from shots in the top flight since August-September 2019 (16 shots).

"We created a lot of opportunities today, but they didn't score them. We leave that aside," Pochettino told reporters. "The quality we have in our team and especially with our attacking players, it's only a matter of time before they score.

"I have no doubt that they will score a lot of goals this season. Tonight, we didn't score more than two goals, that is true."

Pochettino added: "It's always important that our midfielders bring goals to the team. When our attackers are not as effective, they can deliver which is a huge bonus.

"That doesn't surprise me. But yes, it's important that the midfielders have this ability to get into the opponent's box and score."

Gueye smashed in the opener in the 14th minute in the French capital, where Draxler came off the bench and added a late second to send PSG 10 points clear atop the table.

PSG have won six consecutive Ligue 1 games against Montpellier – their longest streak against this side in the top flight. They have even won each of these games by a margin of at least two goals, only doing more in a row against a same opponent twice before against St Etienne between 1983 and 1990 (seven) and Bastia between 1984 and 2000 (nine).

French powerhouse PSG have won each of their first eight games in Ligue 1 this season. This is only the third time that it happened in the league's entire history after PSG in 2018-19 and Lille in 1936-37.

"I think the evolution is important in all aspects. I am satisfied in general. But it is normal that with more time we will improve in all areas of the game. We are satisfied that on a collective level we are showing more defensive solid," Pochettino said.

"As far as the principles of the game where possession is concerned, we are still building. But we can see improvements in many aspects. I am happy. It takes time for the players to be on the pitch and for the connections and relationships to develop. This will help us in the future."

Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler scored the goals to secure a comfortable 2-0 win for Paris Saint-Germain against Montpellier in their Ligue 1 clash on Saturday. 

Gueye smashed in the opener inside the opening 15 minutes at the Parc des Princes as Mauricio Pochettino's side prospered despite the continued absence of Lionel Messi, who was missing for a second consecutive game. 

The final margin perhaps flattered Montpellier, who appeared to lack attacking intent despite netting 15 times in their first seven league games, while the hosts carelessly wasted chances through Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. 

However, substitute Draxler added a late second as PSG moved 10 points clear at the summit, albeit Marseille do have two games in hand as they aim to make up early ground on the leaders. 

Gueye spurned the first chance of the contest as he sliced wide from Abdou Diallo's cut-back pass, before Neymar chipped narrowly over and Mbappe was denied by Jonas Omlin's legs in a frantic opening five minutes. 

However, the hosts managed to break the deadlock through Gueye, who arrowed a left-footed thunderbolt from the edge of the area into the roof of the net from Angel Di Maria's offload. 

Teji Savanier's free-kick almost drew Montpellier level immediately, Keylor Navas parried the attempt away, before Ander Herrera's left-footed volley was denied by the crossbar moments before the break. 

Omlin had to react quickly after the interval to push away following Mbappe's deflected pass off Nicolas Cozza, with Navas then stopping Stephy Mavididi's low curler at the other end.

Mbappe should have added two goals within as many minutes, though his hesitation derailed the first chance before rounding the goalkeeper with his second and yet somehow slicing wide. 

PSG continued to struggle to kill the game off, Neymar uncharacteristically poking wide from close range, but Draxler managed to slide through the legs of Omlin to finally secure victory in the 88th minute. 

Mauricio Pochettino has insisted Kylian Mbappe is a "fantastic guy" after the Paris Saint-Germain star came in for criticism following the midweek win over Metz. 

PSG won 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to Achraf Hakimi's last-gasp winner, after Metz captain Dylan Bronn had received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to waste time, with coach Frederic Antonetti then seeing red for his protestations on the touchline. 

As PSG celebrated Hakimi scoring, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja charged out to confront some of Pochettino's players, seemingly angered by the nature of their celebrations, with Mbappe the main target of his remonstrations.  

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Antonetti hit out at Mbappe, who he claimed needed to be humble in his behaviour on the field.

Pochettino, however, defended Mbappe on Friday, saying incidents within a match must be taken within that context. 

"I understand that the coach was angry. That is a natural reaction," said Pochettino. 

"You have to take the context into account, especially when considering after losing a game in the 95th minute, I can empathise with Fred for being angry about the situation. 

"Kylian Mbappe is a fantastic guy, he is a top competitor who wants to win, always. 

"These things happen on the pitch, but I don't think they need to be carried off the pitch as well in terms of the situations with him and some Metz players. 

"These incidents cannot be taken out of context, they have to be analysed within a match in which both teams want to win and many things happen, so that cannot be used out of context. 

"That doesn't reflect the reality of who Kylian is, but I can understand the frustration on their behalf." 

 

Mbappe had a game-leading three attempts, level with Neymar and Hakimi, while the 22-year-old also created four chances, more than any other player. 

He had 76 touches and came out on top in 63.6 per cent of his 11 duels, while also winning three fouls, another game high, though only Neymar (34) lost possession more times than the France forward (18). 

With Lionel Messi out injured, the onus will be on Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead PSG's attack against Montpellier on Saturday. 

Mbappe has been involved in 11 goals against Montpellier in Ligue 1 (eight goals, three assists), more than any other current team in the competition. 

After failing to be involved in either goal against Metz, however, he will be aiming to make sure he does not feature in successive league matches without scoring or assisting for the first time since February. 

When we look ahead to the Olympics, we usually think about track & field sports, swimming, cycling, maybe even wrestling and boxing.

Given it dominates so much of the sporting agenda for the rest of the year, football may not be among those sports we initially associate with the Olympics, but it has offered numerous stars the opportunity to show their talents to a global audience and to potentially take home a coveted medal.

Of course, the Olympic football tournament is geared more towards lesser-established players, given the age-restriction rules in place.

While teams are usually allowed no more than three players over the age of 23, that age limit has been increased to 24 so not to penalise those around the cut-off who may well have missed out as a result of the 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Superstars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi may be missing, but there are still plenty of familiar faces. Barcelona's Pedri will be involved after starring for Spain at Euro 2020; Brazil great Dani Alves is joined by Arsenal and Everton forwards Gabriel Martinelli and Richarlison; and dynamic Milan midfielder Franck Kessie will be the Ivory Coast's go-to man.

But there are plenty of other relatively unheralded talents ready to make you sit up and take note. Below, Stats Perform takes a look at 10 of them.

Facundo Medina, 22, centre-back – Argentina

It's fair to say Lens defender Medina has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence. The French side brought him in from Club Atletico Talleres just last July and he's already being mentioned as a potential target for clubs like Manchester United.

While he may not be the most physically imposing central defender, he's a good technician, which is demonstrated by his ease on the ball – only three Ligue 1 centre-backs (more than 1,000 minutes played) embarked on more ball carries per 90 minutes (20) than Medina, while his average of 56 successful passes per game was more than any of his team-mates.

Bryan Gil, 20, winger – Spain

La Roja's squad is packed with familiar names – as many as six were at Euro 2020, and that doesn't include the likes of Marco Asensio, Carlos Soler and Dani Ceballos. But of the players with less global recognition, old-fashioned left-winger Bryan is arguably the most exciting.

He just completed a very encouraging loan spell away from Sevilla with Eibar, where his direct and brave style of play was frequently on display, with only Lionel Messi, Javi Galan and Yannick Carrasco attempting more dribbles than him (132). In January he became only the second player born this century to score a LaLiga brace, and he won his first senior Spain caps this year.

 

Diego Lainez, 21, winger – Mexico

It feels like Lainez has been tipped for a big future for a long time now – after all, he first burst on to the scene with Club America four years ago. Two-and-a-half years into his time in LaLiga with Real Betis, he's yet to really establish himself with only 13 of his 48 league appearances coming as a starter. He's still not scored a goal.

But there's no doubting he's a talent. In 2020-21, he attempted a dribble every 17 minutes, which was a record among Betis players and ahead of even Nabil Fekir (21 mins). Lainez is an entertainer and clearly gifted, but perhaps lacking consistency in his end product. Who knows, as one of the more talented players in the Mexico squad, being seen as a go-to player may aid his quest for maturity.

Teji Savanier, 29, central midfielder – France

Savanier is the odd one out in this list, given he's the only one who actually counts towards an over-age quota, though it could be argued that it's to players like him that playing at the Olympics may matter the most. Savanier's never even played for France's youth teams, let alone the senior side, and he only made his top-flight bow as recently as 2018, but he's one of those central midfielders that's a joy to watch with his wonderful ability on the ball.

He has completed 58.4 per cent of his 279 dribbles in Ligue 1 since July 2018, which is bettered by only three players (more than 150 attempts) in the same period. For greater context, Neymar's completion rate in that time is 52.5 per cent. Savanier should also provide France with a threat at set-pieces, as only Benjamin Bourigeaud created more chances (40) from such situations than the Montpellier star (37) in 2020-21.

 

Thiago Almada, 20, attacking midfielder – Argentina

La Albiceleste's squad boasts numerous talented young attacking players – Ezequiel Barco, Pedro de la Vega, Ezequiel Ponce, but Almada's arguably rated highest of the lot.

A diminutive attacking midfielder from Carlos Tevez's old neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Fuerte Apache, Almada is skilful, explosive and creative. Among players born this century, Almada boasts the best chances created per game frequency (two) in the Copa Libertadores (at least two games played) this season, as well as being the youngest player to have netted at least twice in the competition in 2021.

Claudinho, 24, forward – Brazil

All roads point to Europe for Claudinho, who looks poised to be the first major export of Red Bull Bragantino, the energy drink giant's Brazilian club. While no move has been confirmed yet, it seems only a matter of time before RB Leipzig look to bring him over to Germany.

 

After all, he was the joint-top scorer in the 2020 Brasileirao (18 goals), with his finishing abilities highlighted by the fact a league-high seven of those were scored from outside the box. Claudinho also created 25 more chances than anyone else in the division, and scooped both the Young Player of the Year and MVP awards.

 

Nathanael Mbuku, 19, winger – France

He may not necessarily be a starter for Les Bleus, given they've plenty of attacking talent in the squad, but at the very least left-winger Mbuku could be an interesting option from the bench. Reims are reported to already value him at €15million, and he has previous when it comes to excelling in national team colours – he netted five goals in six games as France finished third at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup.

Mbuku enjoyed a smattering of Ligue 1 appearances that season, though it was in 2020-21 that he truly established himself, making 28 starts – that was tied with Eduardo Camavinga for the most by a player born in 2002 or after. He caught the eye with his ability to beat a man, completing a highly respectable 58.1 per cent of his 74 dribbles last term, a completion rate bettered by only 10 players who attempted at least 70.

Felix Uduokhai, 23, centre-back – Germany

Wolfsburg plucked Uduokhai from 1860 Munich in 2017 with much expected of him. He fell well out of favour in his second season before moving on loan to Augsburg, who triggered their purchase option on him last year. Since moving to Bavaria, he's hardly looked back.

He earned his first senior call-up to the Germany team in November and now there is chatter that some of the Bundesliga's biggest clubs are circling for him again. Whoever gets Uduokhai will land an imposing centre-back whose 102 aerial wins was the fourth-highest in the league last term, while only Amos Pieper (160) bettered his 157 clearances.

 

Brenno, 22, goalkeeper – Brazil

For years, goalkeeper was considered the only position where Brazil struggled to develop world-class players, though Alisson and Ederson have firmly disproved that notion and Brenno could be another to keep an eye on.

In the 2021 Brasileirao, Brenno is averaging the fourth-most amount of saves per 90 minutes (3.5) among those to have played at least four times, and is reportedly interesting Portuguese clubs. A solid showing in Japan might see a potential transfer sped up.

Amad Diallo, 19, winger – Ivory Coast

Manchester United fans will be eager to get a good look at Amad during the Olympics, given they only got glimpses of him in 2020-21 after joining from Atalanta. Amid those eight appearances, he certainly showed flashes of his exciting ability and silky footwork, but they will hope to see some performances of a little more substance.

As much as anything, it could be an opportunity for Amad to earn himself a loan move or prove to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he's worth keeping around. Jadon Sancho's arrival will likely further impact his exposure to first-team football, but impressing in Japan might encourage his manager to use him as a regular back up to the England international, with Mason Greenwood moved into a central position.

Moise Kean was the shoot-out hero for Paris Saint-Germain as they edged into the Coupe de France final by beating Montpellier on penalties after a Kylian Mbappe masterclass was not enough to finish the job in normal time.

Smarting after seeing their Champions League challenge ended by Manchester City and their Ligue 1 title defence severely dented by Rennes, two wonderful Mbappe goals, which sandwiched a similarly admirable Gaetan Laborde strike for Montpellier, appeared to have secured PSG's place in a sixth Coupe de France final in seven seasons.

But Andy Delort scored a late leveller to make it 2-2 in a dramatic finale to send an absorbing contest to penalties.

Five players from each team all delivered in a high-quality shoot-out, but the pressure proved too much for Junior Sambia, who blazed over the bar to give Kean the opportunity to seal a spot in the final against Monaco or fourth-tier Rumilly Vallieres as he fired into the top-left corner.

Mauricio Pochettino knew it was only a matter of time before Kylian Mbappe returned to goalscoring form after netting a brace in Paris Saint-Germain's 4-0 rout of Montpellier.

Mbappe had been criticised following four games without a goal for PSG, and just two in his previous eight matches across all competitions.

But Mbappe responded to his critics with two goals and an assist as Ligue 1 champions PSG eased past 10-man Montpellier in Paris on Friday.

Mbappe is decisive every 58 minutes this season in Ligue 1 (14 goals and six assists) – the best ratio among players involved in more than one goal, per Opta. This is the first time he has been involved in three goals in the same league game (two goals and one assist) since February 2020 (against Dijon).

"I was happy before with his performance because his compromise, but also now that he has scored," PSG head coach Pochettino told reporters.

"We know that for a forward, to score goals or give assists it is fundamental, is part to generate this confidence that they need. So we are happy.

"We knew it was only a matter of time for Kylian to find himself again with the goal and the good performances."

After Montpellier goalkeeper Jonas Omlin was sent off in the 19th minute, Mbappe broke the deadlock 15 minutes later before teeing up star team-mate Neymar on the hour in the French capital.

PSG forward Mauro Icardi made it 3-0 a minute later, and Mbappe completed the scoring in the 63rd minute as the league leaders moved three points clear atop the table, with Lille due to play Rennes.

It was the first time in PSG's history that they scored three goals in the space of three minutes (three minutes and nine seconds exactly) in a Ligue 1 game.

Neymar and Mbappe have combined for 21 goals in Ligue 1 since 2017-18 – only the duos of Luis Suarez-Lionel Messi (31), Harry Kane-Son Heung-min (21) and Robert Lewandowski-Thomas Muller (25) have combined for more over the period.

Since his world-record arrival from Barcelona in 2017, Neymar has been involved in one Ligue 1 goal every 66 minutes (51 goals and 29 assists) – the best ratio among players involved in more than one goal over the period.

Neymar has scored 81 goals in 100 games in all competitions for PSG, but Pochettino praised the Brazilian's defensive contribution.

"I believe that the defensive and offensive balance is very important on every team," Pochettino said. "When you have so much talent inside the pitch, players so destabilising, you also run the risk of losing this defensive stability which is so much needed to compete in really big occasions.

"When the level of your opponent can be compared to you, the difference is not only made in the offensive phase, but if you are capable to defend and be able to recover the ball as soon as possible.

"I am happy too with the effort that Neymar has been doing in the last weeks. It is a player with an enormous amount of compromise. It makes us really happy but we already know what he does with the ball on his feet, but when he does this effort to help the team, that talks very well about him."

Kylian Mbappe said he is considering a new long-term contract with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

The 22-year-old forward ended a four-game goal drought on Friday, scoring twice and setting up another as Mauricio Pochettino's side beat Montpellier 4-0.

The France star's future has come under scrutiny during a recent loss of form, with his deal set to expire at the end of next season.

Sporting director Leonardo confirmed to France Football this week that he was confident Mbappe and team-mate Neymar would agree to fresh terms at Parc des Princes.

Mbappe, who has been linked with clubs including Real Madrid and Liverpool, said he would commit to a new deal if he decided his long-term future would be best spent in the French capital.

"We are talking with the club," he told Telefoot. "I am also reflecting on it. If I sign, it will be to invest myself in the long term here.

"I feel good here. I will soon have to make a decision. If I extend, it's so that I stay."

Mbappe was the star performer in the win over 10-man Montpellier, PSG's fourth in a row in all competitions and their third in succession without conceding in Ligue 1.

The champions have enjoyed an encouraging start to life under coach Mauricio Pochettino, who replaced Thomas Tuchel this month.

"I'm really satisfied; it was a great game," said Angel Di Maria. "We had a lot of chances that we managed to take.

"We have to adapt to a new football, but it's going well physically, and that's very important."

Kylian Mbappe scored two and set up another as Paris Saint-Germain beat Montpellier 4-0 in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Having faced recent questions over his form and focus, Mbappe responded with a decisive display at Parc des Princes to help Mauricio Pochettino's men to three points.

Mbappe broke the deadlock after Montpellier goalkeeper Jonas Omlin had earlier been sent off for fouling the France star, and he set up Neymar to mark his 100th PSG appearance with the second goal.

Mauro Icardi and Mbappe added two further goals within three minutes as the champions eased to a routine win, their fourth in a row by at least four goals against Michel Der Zakarian's side.

Montpellier, six games without a win in Ligue 1 before this contest, were left with a huge task when Omlin flattened Mbappe following a stunning throughball from Leandro Paredes, with a VAR review leading to the keeper's dismissal.

PSG eventually capitalised on their dominance 34 minutes in, Neymar and Angel Di Maria each playing decisive passes before Mbappe clipped a cool finish over substitute keeper Dimitry Bertaud.

It was Mbappe's 13th league goal of the season and the 13th time he has been assisted by Di Maria in the competition.

Neymar almost doubled the lead before the break but was thwarted by a good save from Bertaud, who then denied Mauro Icardi acrobatically early in the second period.

The second goal came on the hour mark, though, Mbappe teeing up Neymar for a simple finish after a fine lofted pass from Marco Verratti.

With the floodgates suddenly open, PSG scored a further two goals inside three minutes, Icardi drilling high into the net after good work from Alessandro Florenzi and then setting up Mbappe for a routine finish after Neymar led a quick break.

Bertaud did manage to deny Layvin Kurzawa a stunning fifth, tipping the full-back's bicycle kick onto the crossbar.

 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.