Poch: PSG not out for Bayern revenge

Mauricio Pochettino says Paris Saint-Germain will not have revenge on their minds when they play Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final after losing to the German team in last season’s final.

Bayern beat PSG 1-0 in the final last year to seal a treble but Pochettino, who replaced now-Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel at the Parc des Princes midway through this season, said this time would be different as they were playing a two-legged tie.

“The final is not a benchmark match for us, we weren’t there with my staff, we were just spectators,” Pochettino said ahead of Wednesday’s first leg in Munich.

“In addition, it’s going to be played over two matches, the context is different. Revenge exists in sport but for us it’s more of a challenge to beat such a strong team, maybe the best in the world. It’s a source of motivation.”

When asked about the absence of Robert Lewandowski, Pochettino added: “The strength of Bayern is in its collective. When you win the Champions League and the Club World Cup, it’s because you have a very good group, not just 11 performing players.”

PSG striker Mauro Icardi is out of the fixture with a thigh injury while Italian duo Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi will both miss out after testing positive for Covid-19.

Neymar and Tiago Djalo were both sent off
Neymar and Tiago Djalo were both sent off

Neymar was sent off in a 1-0 loss to Lille over the weekend and Pochettino said the Brazil forward’s emotions got the better of him in his first Ligue 1 start in over two months.

“He was very excited to start a match. He’s an emotional player, he likes to play, he likes to fight, he’s a competitor. He didn’t deserve that red,” Pochettino said. “But he knows he has to channel himself. I hope that tomorrow everything will be fine.”

Flick: Gnabry out with Covid; PSG a new team

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick says PSG are a different team to the side Bayern beat in last season’s Champions League final

Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry has been ruled out of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain after testing positive for COVID-19 while midfielder Marc Roca will miss the game due to injury.

Manager Hansi Flick, who has led the club to six trophies in the last 10 months including the Champions League, said Spaniard Roca suffered an injury on Sunday and was out. Gnabry was unlikely to be included due to a sore throat, but the club later revealed the 25-year-old had tested positive and was quarantining at home.

The two sides met in last year’s Champions League final with Bayern winning the trophy but that counts for little now, said Flick.

Bayern's Serge Gnabry, right, celebrates his side's second goal with teammates Robert Lewandowski, center, and Thomas Mueller during the Champions League semifinal soccer match between Lyon and Bayern Munich at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. (Miguel A. Lopes/Pool via AP)
Bayern will be without both Robert Lewandowski (centre) and Serge Gnabry (right) against PSG

“Paris are a new team with a new coach,” he said. “I don’t think that game matters anymore. We want to reach the semi-finals and the final. That is our aim.”

“They have a solid defence, a very good goalkeeper, but up front they have enormous quality. If we lose possession then we have to stop them quickly. We also have to put them under pressure early.

“We have to be confident in our attack, a bit more decisive than Leipzig and also be strong from the start. We will get our chances but we have to play them out better.”


Bayern Munich vs PSG preview: Lewandowski absent

Team news, stats, kick-off time ahead of Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Team news

Bayern Munich are without striker Robert Lewandowski, who has been ruled out of Wednesday’s first leg with a knee injury.

Lewandowski, who will be joined on the sidelines by Corentin Tolisso and Douglas Costa, is also doubtful for the second leg on April 13.

Bayern have Jerome Boateng and Alphonso Davies available again after the pair missed the weekend Bundesliga win at RB Leipzig through suspension.

But midfielder Marc Roca has been ruled out, while winger Serge Gnabry has tested positive for coronavirus.

17 March 2021, Bavaria, Munich: Football: Champions League, Bayern Munich - Lazio Roma, knockout round, round of 16, second leg at Allianz Arena. Alphonso Davies of Munich is on the pitch. Photo by: Sven Hoppe/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Alphonso Davies is available

Paris Saint-Germain are without the suspended Leandro Paredes and are sweating over the fitness of midfielder Daniel Pereira.

Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi will sit out the first-leg tie after returning positive coronavirus tests.

Flick wary of Neymar, Mbappe on break

Kylian Mbappe's first-leg hattrick has put PSG in command
Kylian Mbappe will hope to help PSG avenge defeat to Bayern in last season’s final

The two sides met in last year’s Champions League final with Bayern winning the trophy but Flick insisted he was wary of a side under new stewardship in Mauricio Pochettino – in particular, the speed of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

“Paris are a new team with a new coach,” said Flick. “I don’t think that game matters anymore. We want to reach the semi-finals and the final. That is our aim.

“They have a solid defence, a very good goalkeeper, but up front they have enormous quality. If we lose possession then we have to stop them quickly. We also have to put them under pressure early.”

Poch bullish: We’re here to win

Pochettino’s side slumped to a 1-0 home defeat to Lille in the league last time out but the former Tottenham boss was in a bullish mood about his side’s chances in Europe.

“We’re playing the champions of Europe and of the world. We respect them, but we have faith in our ability and we’ve come here to win,” he said.

“Bayern are a very well-organised team, playing with a high defensive line and with attacking players able to win a game individually. We will have to find the right balance, not overcommit and be careful not to lose the ball in dangerous areas.

“People talk a lot about Neymar and Mbappé, but the 11 players I decide to put out there tomorrow will be trusted to do the work needed for us to win. Last season was a final. This is different, it’s a two-legged tie.”

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  • This will be the 10th UEFA Champions League meeting between Bayern Munich and Paris SG (four Munich wins, five Paris wins previously) and only the second in the knockout phase, after last season’s final – a 1-0 Bayern Munich win.
  • Bayern Munich have only lost more UEFA Champions League matches against Real Madrid (10) than Paris SG (5), while Paris’ five wins against Munich are their most against any opponent in the competition.
  • Bayern Munich have won their last three home UEFA Champions League games against Paris SG, since losing 1-0 in their first home game in November 1994 at the OIympiastadion, with George Weah scoring the winner.
  • Paris SG have only failed to score in one of their last 43 games in the UEFA Champions League, with that coming in a 0-1 defeat in last season’s final. Since the start of the 2016-17 campaign, only Bayern Munich (2.8) have averaged more goals per game than Paris SG (2.5) in the competition.
  • Bayern Munich are unbeaten in their last 19 games in the UEFA Champions League (W18 D1) and could become only the second team in the competition’s history to go 20 consecutive games without losing, after Manchester United (25 between 2007 and 2009).
  • This is the third time Paris SG have drawn the reigning champions of the UEFA Champions League in the knockout stages, losing both legs on both previous occasions: the 1994-95 semi-final against AC Milan and 2017-18 last 16 against Real Madrid.
  • Paris SG manager Mauricio Pochettino’s only previous UEFA Champions League match against Bayern Munich was with Spurs in October 2019, losing 7-2. The record for goals conceded in a manager’s first two games against an opponent in the competition is 12 – Aleksandr Yermakovich vs Shakhtar Donetsk and Brendan Rodgers vs Paris SG.
  • Kylian Mbappe has been directly involved in 35 goals in 33 games for Paris SG in the UEFA Champions League (19 goals, 16 assists), while he’s scored six in seven games in the competition this season – already his joint-best goal tally in a single campaign (also 6 in 2016-17).
  • The two players with the most ball carries with a take-on in the UEFA Champions League this season are PSG duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe (29 each), while Mbappe has had the most ball carries ending with a shot (11).
  • Bayern Munich will be missing Robert Lewandowski, who has scored in 10 of his 13 games in the UEFA Champions League under Hans-Dieter Flick, with the Pole’s 15 goals under Flick being the most of any player in the competition since the manager took charge in November 2019.


Euro: Wins for Bayern, Real | Ronaldo rescues Juve point

Leon Goretzka’s first-half goal was enough to give Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich a crucial 1-0 victory at second-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday, as they opened up a seven-point lead at the top and edged closer to a ninth straight league crown.

Leipzig were the better team but were wasteful. In contrast, the Bavarians, without injured top scorer Robert Lewandowski, were brutally efficient to earn the three points after Goretzka fired in from Thomas Mueller’s 15th assist of the season.

No team has lost the title after leading by seven points after the 27th matchday and with seven games remaining.

The visitors had few chances throughout and survived a second-half siege as Leipzig squandered a quartet of golden opportunities in a powerful start after the break.

Neither Christopher Nkunku nor Dani Olmo and Marcel Sabitzer managed to hit the target.

The latter did better on the hour with a long-range effort that forced Bayern ‘keeper Manuel Neuer to make a fine save as he tipped the ball over the bar, but the hosts could not find an equaliser.

Bayern, who face PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, are on 64 points, with Leipzig second on 57 points.

Borussia Dortmund suffered a blow to their top four hopes
Borussia Dortmund suffered a blow to their top four hopes

Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva headed in an 87th-minute winner to stun hosts Borussia Dortmund 2-1 and give his team a major boost in their bid for a top-four finish and a spot in next season’s Champions League.

The Portuguese headed in a Filip Kostic cross at the far post for his 22nd league goal of the season to lift Frankfurt to 50 points in fourth place, seven ahead of Borussia Dortmund in fifth.

Frankfurt went in front as Dortmund’s Nico Schulz wrongfooted his own keeper with a header in the 11th minute. The visitors were also unlucky not to be awarded a penalty for a clear handball by Thomas Delaney.

Andre Silva scored the late winner for Eintracht Frankfurt
Andre Silva scored the late winner for Eintracht Frankfurt

Instead, it was Dortmund who scored on the stroke of half-time when Mats Hummels turned in the box to volley in the equaliser.

Frankfurt were sharper after the break, however, bagging a deserved winner after coming close through Silva, Kostic and Stefan Ilsanker in a strong second-half display.

Elsewhere, third-place Wolfsburg were 1-0 winners against Cologne, while Augsburg and Bayer Leverkusen were 2-1 winners against Hoffenheim and Schalke respectively. Mainz also drew 1-1 with Bielefeld.

La Liga – Real see off Eibar

Karim Benzema headed home Real Madrid's second
Karim Benzema headed home Real Madrid’s second

Real Madrid forwards Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema struck to give their side a 2-0 win at home to Eibar, keeping up the pressure on leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Liverpool.

Asensio finally gave Madrid the lead late in the 41st minute after his side had two goals ruled out for offside, latching on to a Casemiro through ball and curling his effort into the bottom corner despite losing his footing as he took the shot.

After controlling the first half, Real struggled for a long spell in the second as torrential rain poured down on the Alfredo di Stefano stadium and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois almost committed a howler when he miscontrolled a back-pass, but managed to kick the ball away just before it crossed the line.

Karim Benzema has now scored nine goals in seven Real Madrid games
Karim Benzema has now scored nine goals in seven Real Madrid games

Real then had a goal ruled out for offside for the third time but eventually got the all-important second goal when Benzema headed home a cross from Vinicius Jr. in the 73rd minute.

Elsewhere, Gerard Moreno scored a hat-trick in Villarreal’s 3-0 win at Granada, taking his tally to 19 goals in La Liga this season. Osasuna and Granada played out a goalless draw.

Serie A – Ronaldo rescues point in Turin derby

Cristiano Ronaldo's late equaliser was given after a VAR review
Cristiano Ronaldo’s late equaliser was given after a VAR review

Juventus needed a 79th-minute equaliser from Cristiano Ronaldo to rescue a 2-2 draw in the Turin derby against relegation-battling Torino, leaving the champions’ Serie A title defence in tatters.

The pressure was on Andrea Pirlo’s side to produce a convincing performance after suffering a 1-0 loss to lowly Benevento before the international break, and they started strongly as Federico Chiesa scored after 13 minutes.

But striker Antonio Sanabria soon headed Torino level, before latching onto a careless Dejan Kulusevski back-pass to fire his side in front in the opening minute of the second half.

Ronaldo headed in from close range to equalise but he was flagged for offside, before a VAR review overturned the decision and allowed the goal.

Juve slipped to fourth place on 56 points, nine behind leaders Inter, who face Bologna later on Saturday. Torino moved onto 24 points, two clear of the relegation zone in 17th place.

Antonio Sanabria (left) scored both Torino goals
Antonio Sanabria (left) scored both Torino goals

AC Milan’s faltering title hopes diminished further after a 1-1 draw at home to 10-man Sampdoria.

Jens Petter Hauge rescued a point for Milan three minutes from time and the Rossoneri almost snatched all three points but Franck Kessie’s effort came off the post.

Fabio Quagliarella had scored in the 57th minute following a horrendous Milan error, but Sampdoria midfielder Adrien Silva was sent off two minutes later.

Napoli survived a spirited fightback from bottom side Crotone to earn a 4-3 win and go fourth in Serie A, as the fierce battle for Champions League qualification continued.

Lorenzo Insigne and Victor Osimhen struck for the hosts before Simy pulled one back, but Dries Mertens free-kick restored Napoli’s two-goal cushion before the break.

The visitors launched a comeback in the second half as Simy prodded in his second before Junior Messias curled in a stunning equaliser in the 59th minute.

Nigeria international Simys double continued a superb run of form that makes him the top scorer in Europe’s top-five leagues since the start of March with eight goals.

Napoli were 4-3 winners against Crotone, but made to work for their victory
Napoli were 4-3 winners against Crotone, but made to work for their victory

But the relegation battlers could not hold on as Giovanni Di Lorenzo rifled in a shot to put Gennaro Gattuso’s side back in front after 72 minutes.

Atalanta beat Udinese 3-2. Luis Muriel struck twice in the first half to take his tally to 18 league goals for the season before Udinese’s Roberto Pereyra pulled one back.

Duvan Zapata drilled in Atalanta’s third before Luca Gotti’s side reduced the deficit again on the 71st minute through Jens Stryger Larsen.

Lazio clinched a vital win and climbed into sixth place as Felipe Caicedo scored an 88th-minute penalty to beat Spezia 2-1 in Rome.

Manuel Lazzari’s opener was cancelled out by a spectacular bicycle kick from Spezia substitute Daniele Verde before the late spot-kick, but Lazzari and Joaquin Correa were sent off for the home side in stoppage time.

The Roman club moved up to 52 points, one above Roma who were held to a 2-2 draw by Sassuolo.

Lorenzo Pellegrini’s penalty edged Roma ahead at half-time in an entertaining game. Hamed Traore equalised after the break before Bruno Peres restored the visitors advantage, but Giacomo Raspadori fired home an equaliser for Sassuolo five minutes from time.

Elsewhere, relegation battlers Benevento and Parma played out a 2-2 draw, Hellas Verona went seventh with a 2-0 win at Cagliari and Franck Ribery was sent off during Fiorentina’s 1-1 draw at Genoa on Giuseppe Iachini’s return as Viola coach.

Ligue 1 – Neymar sent off in Lille defeat

Neymar and Tiago Djalo were both sent off
Neymar and Tiago Djalo were both sent off at the end of Lille’s win against PSG

Neymar was sent off on his return from injury as PSG slipped up 1-0 at home to Lille, who surged three points clear at the top of Ligue 1.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side started the afternoon level on points with their title rivals but ran into a supremely organised Lille side who took the lead on 20 minutes through Jonathan David.

Neymar was sent off when he picked up a second yellow card for shoving Tiago Djalo as the clock approached 90 minutes. Djalo was also dismissed during the incident and had to be escorted from the pitch following a foul-mouthed rant at the decision.

Pochettino, who was appointed in January, has now seen his side lose their last three games at home in Ligue 1 as both Monaco and Lille have chances of dethroning the current champions. Monaco moved up to third on 62 points – one point behind PSG – with a 4-0 thrashing of Metz.

Monaco, which have now lost only once in 16 league games, struck a double blow early in the second half. Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty in the 49th minute after forward Stevan Jovetic was fouled, and striker Kevin Volland finished confidently two minutes later from Belgian midfielder Eliot Matazos pass.

Striker Wissam Ben Yedder was surprisingly left on the bench but came on to notch a fine third when he cut inside a defender and thumped the ball under the crossbar.

Ben Yedder was fouled by central defender John Boye and took the penalty to make it 4-0 in the 88th minute and move onto 15 league goals, one more than Volland.


Injured Lewandowski to miss PSG ties in CL

Robert Lewandowski will miss both legs of Bayern Munich’s Champions League quarter-final clash against Paris Saint-Germain with a knee injury.

The Poland captain suffered knee ligament damage during their World Cup Qualifier against Andorra on Sunday and returned to his club for further assessments.

The injury ruled him out of Poland’s next World Cup Qualifier against England at Wembley on Wednesday night, with the original diagnosis stating he would be out for around 10 days.

However, the German champions announced on Tuesday the injury is worse than first feared and the 32-year-old striker is set to be sidelined for around four weeks.

“Robert Lewandowski has suffered sprained ligaments in his right knee. The FC Bayern striker will be out for around four weeks,” a Bayern statement read on Tuesday.

“After the Polish national team’s 3-0 win against Andorra, Lewandowski travelled back to Munich prematurely, where the diagnosis was made by the medical department of the German champions.

“In Sunday’s game, the 32-year-old scored the first two goals before he had to leave the field after 60 minutes after a collision.”

Bayern continue their quest to retain their Champions League crown when they face Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG in the quarter-finals on April 7 and 13.

Lewandowski has been the Bundesliga champions’ talisman this season, scoring 42 goals in 36 appearances across all competitions.