Run­ners-up spot leaves PSG in dan­ger­ous waters

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS: Af­ter fal­ter­ing in the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter-fi­nals four times in a row, Paris St Ger­main could face the prospect of a last-16 exit af­ter a medi­ocre per­for­mance against Lu­do­gorets saw them fin­ish the group stage in sec­ond place.

PSG needed an ex­tra-time equaliser by An­gel Di Maria to sal­vage 2-2 home draw against the Bul­gar­ian side but that re­sult still al­lowed Ar­se­nal, who beat Basel 4-1, to leap-frog them into first place in Group A. PSG will now await next Mon­day’s round of 16 draw anx­iously, hop­ing to avoid an ear­lier-than-hoped meet­ing with ei­ther Real Madrid or Barcelona.

“Top spot was our goal. We are qual­i­fied but we should have won this game. I was ex­pect­ing more from the play­ers,” said club pres­i­dent Nasser al Khe­laifi. De­fender Thomas Me­u­nier added: “We will see if it was a fail­ure when we know the draw, there are teams that could be good for us,” PSG could also face Leicester City, Napoli, Ju­ven­tus, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, or Borus­sia Dort­mund. PSG had shown signs of weak­ness at the week­end, los­ing 3-0 at Mont­pel­lier in Ligue 1 in their big­gest de­feat in over five years, but they failed to re­act on Tues­day, de­fend­ing poorly again.

“It’s a bad re­sult. I am wor­ried be­cause we don’t usu­ally con­cede so many goals,” said coach Unai Emery. PSG have con­ceded five goals in their last two games - as many as in their 10 pre­vi­ous matches in all com­pe­ti­tions.

In the ab­sence of the sus­pended Marco Ver­ratti and the in­jured Adrien Rabiot, they also lacked cre­ativ­ity in mid­field. To add to their woes, Thi­ago Motta will be sus­pended for the first leg of their last 16 game.

De­spite an un­der-par per­for­mance in the group phase, where they won only three games, the team and Emery are still backed by Al Khe­laifi. “I trust my play­ers and my coach,” he said. Emery took over from Lau­rent Blanc dur­ing the close sea­son af­ter the for­mer France coach led the club to three suc­ces­sive French ti­tles. PSG lie third in Ligue 1, four points be­hind lead­ers Nice, whom they face at the Parc des Princes on Sun­day. “I hope the play­ers will re­act, it’s im­por­tant to beat Nice at home,” said Al Khe­laifi.

“The squad is ex­pe­ri­enced enough to deal with that kind of com­pli­cated pe­ri­ods,” said Me­u­nier.

PARIS: Paris Saint-Ger­main’s play­ers ob­serve a minute’s si­lence for the play­ers of the Brazil­ian Chapecoense foot­ball team who died in a plane chrash last week in Colombia ahead the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Group A foot­ball match be­tween Paris Saint-Ger­main and PCF Lu­do­gorets Raz­grad at the Parc des Princes Sta­dium in Paris on Tues­day. — AFP

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