Leonardo hits back at Tuchel and says PSG have a ‘huge team’

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar plays the ball during Friday’s match against Angers in Paris. (AFP)
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Updated 04 October 2020

Leonardo hits back at Tuchel and says PSG have a ‘huge team’

  • The disagreement promises three tense days before the transfer window closes on Monday evening

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain had no difficulties seeing off Angers in the opening game of the Ligue 1 weekend, but remarks by sporting director Leonardo after the 6-1 victory exposed smoldering problems within the club.

After the game on Friday night, in which Neymar, who scored twice, and Kylian Mbappe, who struck once, showed that the club’s stars can deliver, Leonardo spoke to journalists at the Parc des Princes and responded sharply to coach Thomas Tuchel’s criticism the day before of the club’s transfer activity.

Leonardo said that neither he nor the club “appreciated” Tuchel’s assertion that the PSG squad had been weakened since they reached the Champions League final in August.

“If someone is not happy, if he decides to stay, he must respect either the sports policy or the internal rules,” Leonardo said.

“You have to understand the moment we are all living through, these are very serious situations. Not understanding this situation, we didn’t like it. Now we’re going to address it internally.”

Tuchel complained on Thursday that the club had not done enough ahead of what promises to be an unusually demanding and compressed season. Leonardo responded that the problems created by the coronavirus extended beyond the playing field.

“Everybody has lost millions, it’s weird to talk about it. Nobody is buying, except in England, which is a world apart,” said Leonardo adding that the health crisis had cost PSG almost 100 million euros.

It was the first time that Leonardo has publicly criticized the coach, who he inherited when he took over in July 2019.

PSG won every domestic trophy available in France last season before losing narrowly to Bayern Munich in August’s Champions League final in Lisbon.

However, since the end of last season their captain Thiago Silva, all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani, right-back Thomas Meunier, striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and defensive starlet Tanguy Kouassi have left.

Apart from making Mauro Icardi’s loan move from Inter Milan into a permanent transfer, the only new arrivals are right-back Alessandro Florenzi, on loan from Roma, and third-choice goalkeeper Alexandre Letellier.

Tuchel said he wanted new signings.

“If we stay like this we can’t speak about having the same objectives,” the German said.

“Perhaps we can do it but we can’t ask for the same things from such a reduced squad when we will have to fight with teams like Manchester City, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid, who have all been very strong in the transfer market.

“In a season like this, with players who will be playing a lot for their national teams, with the coronavirus, without a pre-season, with a schedule like we have, I am worried that we will pay the price in October, November, December and January.”

Leonardo said that Tuchel had to be prepared to work with the talent he had.

“I also didn’t like him saying that this team is weak. We’re talking about a huge team,” the Brazilian said.

“It’s not a question of the transfer window, but of form. To stay at this club, you have to be happy, with the desire to suffer for the club, the spirit of sacrifice, even if you’re going through a tough moment. If you can sign players, fine. If not, we’ll keep going. That’s the spirit we’re looking for.”

“We’ll try to be creative. I don’t know how it’s going to end. A lot of things can happen, like nothing. We are living in such a difficult time. This is not the time to buy.”

The disagreement promises three tense days before the transfer window closes on Monday evening.


After enthralling Karachi leg, Pakistan resume England rivalry in Lahore today

Updated 31 sec ago

After enthralling Karachi leg, Pakistan resume England rivalry in Lahore today

  • Pakistan beat England in last T20I to level seven-match series 2-2
  • Babar Azam needs to score 61 runs to become fastest batter to score 3,000 T20I runs

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will take on England in the fifth T20 international match between the two sides at the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore today, Wednesday, after Pakistan levelled the series 2-2 with last week’s enthralling win.

Pakistan brought the Karachi leg of the series to a close on Sunday when the hosts beat England in a thriller. Shan Masood’s under-arm throw from the last match prevented Reece Topley from reaching the crease and England from chasing the 167-run target. 

A bit troubling for Pakistan would be the absence of right-arm pacer Naseem Shah. The fast bowler will miss today’s T20 fixture against England after an infection ruled him out for the match. 

The green shirts are already missing Pakistan’s lethal left-arm bowling sensation, Shaheen Shah Afridi, who also had to sit out the Asia Cup earlier this month due to an injury.

“Naseem was taken to hospital on Tuesday night with a viral infection and will not be available for Wednesday’s match,” a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) spokesman said.

Pakistan will hope skipper Babar Azam scores at least 61 runs in the match today. The Pakistani captain is just 61 runs shy of 3,000 runs. If Azam succeeds in crossing the 3,000-run mark, he will become the fastest batter to reach the milestone— beating the previous record set by Indian skipper Virat Kohli. 

Kohli took 81 innings to reach the milestone of 3,000 runs in T20Is. Currently, Azam has 2,939 runs under his belt from 79 innings.

England, who are on their first tour of Pakistan in 17 years, will play three matches in Lahore. The sixth T20 fixture between the two sides will take place on Friday, September 30 before the final match of the series will take place on Sunday, October 2. 
 


‘All lights green’ for 2024 Paris Olympics opening ceremony: official

Updated 4 min 2 sec ago

‘All lights green’ for 2024 Paris Olympics opening ceremony: official

  • The opening ceremony on July 26, 2024, is not set to take place as is customary in the athletics stadium
  • The original plan was for an armada of 200 boats and some 600,000 spectators

PARIS: Organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics intend to press ahead with an ambitious opening ceremony on the river Seine despite security concerns, a senior official said Wednesday.
“All the lights are green to organize this ceremony in good security conditions,” an aide to President Emmanuel Macron told reporters ahead of a top-level meeting to discuss preparations.
There had “never been a question” of abandoning the idea which was first announced by Macron himself, the aide added.
The French president is to chair a meeting with ministers, security forces, sports officials and the heads of Paris local authorities on Thursday to review the plans.
The opening ceremony on July 26, 2024, is not set to take place as is customary in the athletics stadium, but be celebrated with a flotilla down the river Seine.
The original plan was for an armada of 200 boats and some 600,000 spectators, but organizers are under pressure to scale down these ambitions.
Paris’ Olympics also face financial pressure, with the cost of energy and inflation rising sharply and Macron insisting “the Games must finance the Games.”
The aide confirmed that France was still discussing with the International Olympic Committee “if savings could be made” on some events and sites.
Paris was aiming to be the most energy-efficient and cost-effective possible, creating a “new model” for the competition, the aide added.


San Siro demolition on table as Milan and Inter’s stadium dream put to public

Updated 28 September 2022

San Siro demolition on table as Milan and Inter’s stadium dream put to public

  • AC Milan and Inter Milan both insist that they can no longer stay in the current, city-owned San Siro
  • Should it go ahead the project is scheduled to be completed in 2030

MILAN, Italy: A crucial step toward the demolition of the iconic San Siro begins on Wednesday when Milan hosts the first of a series of meetings with the public necessary for the new stadium proposed by the city’s two footballing giants.
AC Milan and Inter Milan both insist that they can no longer stay in the current, city-owned San Siro and have drawn up plans for a new 60,000-capacity ground flanked by sport and leisure facilities on the same site, which will be completely remodelled.
Should it go ahead the project is scheduled to be completed in 2030, with 1.3 billion euros ($1.24 billion) being jointly invested in the development by both clubs, who say they cannot afford to build separate new grounds and need the increased revenue this project would bring.
Over three years after presenting their initial project the public will now be able to scrutinize it and have their say at 10 meetings held over a month, after which a report will be presented to the city by the meetings’ independent organizers in mid-November.
The city can then decide whether to insist on further changes to a project which has had 50,000 square meters of development cut from it since it was first proposed, or proceed with approval.
The project is divided into two main sections: construction of the new stadium in the area immediately west of the San Siro currently occupied by car parking and a local park, which the clubs want finished by September 2027.
After that is built the current stadium, set to host the opening ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympics, will then be demolished before the new facilities — including shopping, convention and sports centers, are built around a new public park.
It’s these facilities and the destruction of a symbolic stadium which have attracted the ire of some Milan residents and a sizeable portion of the city council, who are also angry at the granting of public land to private investors for a fraction of the rent the pair currently pay.
Other criticisms include the significant reduction in the number of seats — of which over 10,000 could be reserved for hospitality — way down not just on the San Siro’s capacity but also the number of fans currently packing the ground.
Both Inter and Milan have been regularly getting crowds of over 70,000 as a post-pandemic wave of enthusiasm among fans has led to supporters flocking back to stadiums in big numbers across Serie A.
Some pressure groups are pushing for the renovation of the current ground and dismiss Milan CEO Paolo Scaroni’s claims on Tuesday that it would be “impossible and dangerous to get 50,000 fans into a building site,” citing the redevelopment of the San Siro ahead of the 1990 World Cup which added a whole new tier to the stadium.
However, Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala has repeatedly asked critics what local authorities would be able to do with a massive, unused football stadium on the outskirts of the city should the project not be approved and the clubs decide to move in order to get the new ground built.
A source at Inter told AFP in the summer that any more bureaucratic bumps in the road would lead to the project being moved to the site of a former factory in Sesto San Giovanni, a town just outside Milan which is on the city’s metro network.
The teams abandoning the area wouldn’t just leave the city with a clubless football stadium, it would also have an impact on neighborhoods which have for a long time been some of the city’s most problematic.
Two stops down the ‘lilac’ metro line which takes fans to the San Siro is Piazzale Segesta, which flanks a troubled council housing estate — one of several in the area.
Laura Guardini, a former journalist at the daily Corriere Della Sera and volunteer at the local neighborhood association, says that of the 6,000 homes on the estate almost 1,000 are squatted in, often by people involved in drug dealing and other serious criminal activities.
She says that residents in the legally occupied apartments refuse holidays and sometimes even hospital treatment as once word is out that their flat is empty squatters “kick in the doors and take over.”
Silvia Cavagnari, who runs a local Italian language school for foreigners, says “the people in this area couldn’t care less about the stadium project, they have much bigger problems.”
And Laura Mariani, a teacher at the language school, hopes that Milan and Inter manage to get the project approved.
“I hope that the clubs do manage to build it,” she says. “Because if they leave it would be a disaster for this area.”


Pakistan’s Naseem Shah out of fifth England T20

Updated 28 September 2022

Pakistan’s Naseem Shah out of fifth England T20

  • Shah was taken to hospital with an infection and will miss the fifth Twenty20 international against England today
  • The 19-year-old’s availability for the rest of the seven-match series will be decided after assessing his medical reports

LAHORE: Pakistan’s highly rated teenage fast bowler Naseem Shah was taken to hospital with an infection and will miss the fifth Twenty20 international against England later Wednesday, said a cricket board spokesman.

The 19-year-old’s availability for the rest of the seven-match series will be decided after assessing his medical reports.

“Naseem was taken to hospital on Tuesday night with a viral infection and will not be available for Wednesday’s match,” a Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman said.

Naseem played the first match of the series and went for 41 runs in his four wicket-less overs.

The series is tied 2-2 after four matches in Karachi. The remaining three are in Lahore.

England are on their first tour of Pakistan for 17 years.


Racial slur, laser pens at players mar Brazil’s 5-1 win over Tunisia in friendly

Updated 28 September 2022

Racial slur, laser pens at players mar Brazil’s 5-1 win over Tunisia in friendly

  • The Selecao produced a dominant first-half display in their final outing before traveling to Qatar, with Raphinha netting twice and Neymar moving to within two of Pele’s record
  • The scene for a bad-tempered match was set when the vast numbers of Tunisia fans jeered the Brazilian national anthem before kickoff

PARIS: Richarlison was the target of a banana thrown from the crowd as Brazil thrashed Tunisia 5-1 in a friendly in Paris on Tuesday, while Neymar edged closer to Pele’s all-time scoring record for the five-time world champions.

The game at the Parc des Princes was also briefly paused in the first half as the crowd were twice implored not to point laser pens at Brazil players.

“Unfortunately... a banana was thrown on the pitch toward Richarlison, scorer of the second Brazilian goal,” the Brazilian football confederation (CBF) said on Twitter.

“The CBF reinforces its position to combat racism and repudiates any prejudiced act.”

The Selecao produced a dominant first-half display in their final outing before traveling to Qatar for the World Cup, with Raphinha netting twice and Neymar moving to within two of Pele’s record.

Richarlison also found the net, while Pedro scored as a second-half substitute before responding to more boos and missiles from the crowd by bowing in front of them in celebration.

“It’s a shame, it’s difficult to see images like that,” said Brazil captain Thiago Silva, whose team posed for a team photo before the match with a banner bearing an anti-racism message.

“Unfortunately it seems that we can’t change people’s mentality.

“I hope they will realize that this doesn’t work, it’s the past, we have to change. Unfortunately, people continue with this mentality.”

Tite’s Brazil will head into their World Cup Group G opener against Serbia on Nov. 24 on a 15-match unbeaten run, dating back to their Copa America final loss to Argentina last year.

The scene for a bad-tempered match was set when the vast numbers of Tunisia fans jeered the Brazilian national anthem before kickoff.

“I was puzzled, I was saying ‘No, it’s a lack of respect’. Football is a sport that promotes inclusion,” said Tite.

Brazil took the lead in the 12th minute, though, as Casemiro clipped the ball over the top and Barcelona winger Raphinha directed a wonderful looping header over Tunisia goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen and into the net.

Jalel Kadri’s men hit back six minutes later.

Defender Montassar Talbi met Anis Slimane’s outswinging free-kick to send a powerful header into the bottom corner past ‘keeper Alisson.

Incredibly, Brazil were back ahead just seconds after that setback, as Raphinha sent Richarlison in behind to drill a strike through the legs of Dahmen to score his third goal in two games after a double against Ghana.

The Tottenham forward celebrated in front of the Tunisian supporters, who responded by throwing a banana and plastic cups in his direction.

Fred kicked the banana off the pitch, before extra security guards took up residence on the side of the field.

Brazil almost extended their advantage as Paqueta followed a fine turn with a low shot which Dahmen tipped wide.

But from the resulting corner, Casemiro was hauled down in the box and Neymar stepped up to roll home his 75th international goal from the penalty spot, despite having lasers pointed at his face.

Brazil continued to cut through the visitors’ defense with ease and Raphinha scored again in the 40th minute by firing in off the post from the edge of the box.

Things went from bad to worse for Tunisia before halftime as Dylan Bronn brought down Neymar and was harshly sent off after a brief melee between the two teams.

Tunisia were much improved after the break but Brazil still scored again with 16 minutes remaining through Flamengo forward Pedro’s maiden goal for his country.

Earlier on Tuesday, World Cup hosts Qatar survived a late penalty miss by Alexis Sanchez to hold Chile to a 2-2 draw in Vienna.

Canada, who are preparing for their first World Cup since 1986, lost 2-0 to Uruguay in Bratislava as Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez scored his third international goal.

Sardar Azmoun scored as a substitute to earn Iran a 1-1 draw with African champions Senegal. Morocco drew 0-0 with Paraguay in Seville.