What we learned: PSG in need of positives; no catastrophe for Jurgen Klopp and brittle Bayern Munich

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Klopp looked flustered after the 1-1 draw against West Ham but things can turn around pretty quickly. (AFP)
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Updated 05 February 2019

What we learned: PSG in need of positives; no catastrophe for Jurgen Klopp and brittle Bayern Munich

  • PSG lose for first time in Ligue 1 this season.
  • Real Madrid find winning ways with Champions League second round approaching.

LONDON: The winter breaks are all over, all players from the Asian Cup have returned to camp and title challenges are being scrutinized with ever more beady eyes. Here we take a look at what we learned from another packed weekend of football action in Europe.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 
ARE BEATABLE

OK, we admit this is not exactly a big thing to say just after they have been beaten — a 2-1 loss at Lyon — but with the Champions League tie against Manchester United just a week away the timing of the defeat is fairly dire. The moneybags club had not lost in Ligue 1 all season but without their talented, but tiresome, talisman Neymar they not only look beatable in Europe, but now also in France. The Champions League is the one trophy PSG want to win . That they have failed to get past the second round the past two seasons is doubtless the cause of both consternation and embarrassment in the boardroom. Next week they face a resurgent Manchester United who will fancy their chances of getting something against a side that faced Lyon without their best player and a recognized central midfielder. Based on the defeat at the weekend another early European exit is on the cards.

Misery for Mbappe after PSG lose to Lyon. (AFP) 

TOO SOON TO WRITE 
OFF REAL

The Bernabeu boys are still eight points behind arch-rivals Barcelona in the league table but their 3-0 victory over Alaves made it five victories in a row for the capital club. Not only that but after the defeats and soul searching of the first half of the season — one that saw the sacking of Julen Lopetegui and his replacement Santiago Solari take time to get used to life in the dugout — there is a sense that Real have turned a corner. If they beat city rivals Atletico next weekend they would go into second place in the La Liga table just in time for their Champions League clash against Ajax. After their hat-trick of successes of the past three seasons who would rule them out of producing another run at the biggest title in world football if they were to maintain current 
momentum?

Looking at the past few results Real an on the up once again. (AFP)

NO CATASTROPHE FOR KLOPP JUST YET

After Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with West Ham on Monday social media did what it does best, sharpened the knives and went over the top in reaction to a result that although not great, was far from a disaster. It is way too early to say the Reds are bottling it. Their one-time seven-point lead over Manchester City could be completely eradicated if the Blues beat Everton tonight, but it has only just turned February and there are many twists and turns to go before the end of the season. Klopp and Co. where always likely to suffer a bad run of form and that it has come now rather than in April may ultimately be seen as no bad thing. What will worry the Liverpool boss, however, is the sight of his once imperious attack look anything but dangerous in the draws to the Hammers and Leicester. The once slick passing at pace and with purpose has gone, and added to that the dominant defense has started to look unsure of itself. There is, though, plenty of time return to wining ways and Klopp has more than enough nous to ensure they do.

It went downhill for Liverpool after Mane scored the opener against West Ham. But the tide could turn for the Reds. (AFP) 

BAYERN’S BRITTLE DEFENCE

If there is one side Liverpool might fancy playing in a bid to return to their fast-moving, slick attacking ways it could well be Bayern Munich. Who, as luck would have it, is who they are playing in next week’s Champions League. The Bavarian giants’ so-so season continued with a 3-1 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen. Niko Kovac’s side were undone by a series of quick counter attacks of the sort Liverpool excel at. There is little doubt that Bayern will have to sort out their midfield woes — the experiment of playing Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in the middle of the park was an abject failure — if they are not only to get back to winning ways in the Bundesliga, but also to avoid a lesson at the hands of Liverpool.

Muller cannot bear to look after Bayern's defeat to Bayer Leverkusen​. (AFP) 


Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Updated 20 min 27 sec ago

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

  • The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, has not played since March 2020

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has hailed the “genius” of Mesut Ozil after the Arsenal outcast confirmed he was leaving the Premier League club to join Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

The former Arsenal boss signed the German playmaker in 2013 but the relationship has turned sour under current manager Mikel Arteta.

The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, on a reported weekly salary of £350,000 ($475,000), has not played since March 2020. But Wenger said the former Germany international, who won the World Cup in 2014, was a rare talent.

“Mesut is like if you imagine an orchestra in music,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports Turkey.

“He’s a guy who plays the ball at the right time. The timing of his pass is exceptional, but the creativity of his pass is as well.

“In every situation he confronts, he gives the right answer and that is genius.”

Ozil has claimed he is in good physical condition despite his lengthy period on the sidelines but Wenger said his former player would take a few games to build up his “competitive fitness.”

“If his basic fitness in training is good, it will only take him three or four games to be at his best,” said Wenger.

“The quality that he has is... vision in depth. He sees quickly, he decides quickly and he realizes quickly what he sees. That is a quality you don’t find too often in our game.”

Wenger said Ozil would strengthen Fenerbahce’s bid to win the Turkish league for the first time since 2013/14.

“I’m sure that he’s frustrated at not having played,” he said. “His hunger must be absolutely (enormous) to play football again.

“Mesut is a guy who needs a warm environment and I believe he will find that more than anywhere else in Turkey.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side but after what he labelled “racist” attacks following the holders’ first-round exit at the 2018 tournament, he ended his international career.

Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs, are currently second in the Turkish Super Lig behind Besiktas.