“I am the first person responsible,” said Mauricio Pochettino, the Paris Saint-Germain coach, who seems to have assumed his role as official culprit, buffer, firewall, peacemaker and manager of glittering egos in the most spectacular and experimental project offered by the contemporary soccer. The coach spoke in Rennes, the capital of Brittany, immediately after his team, armed with all its figures, lost 2-0 to the local team.
Alfred Gomis, Hamari Traore, Birger Meling, Naif Aguerd, Warmed Omari, Jonas Martin (Baptiste Santamaria, min. 75), Bourigeaud (Lorenz Assignon, min. 74), Flavien Tait (Chimuanya Ugochukwu, min. 86), Kamal Deen Sulemana , G. Laborde and Martin Terrier (Guirassy, min. 74)
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nuno Mendes, Achraf Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Verratti (Wijnaldum, min. 75), Messi, Di María, Idrissa Gueye (Ander Herrera, min. 75), Neymar (Icardi, min. 75) and Kylian Mbappe
Goals 1-0 min. 44: G. Laborde. 2-0 min. 45: Flavien Tait.
Referee Ruddy buquet
Yellow cards G. Laborde (min. 23), Jonas Martin (min. 54), Kimpembe (min. 54), Gianluigi Donnarumma (min. 55) and Kylian Mbappe (min. 85)
“It has been a misfortune not to be able to specify our chances,” lamented Pochettino. “We conceded two psychological blows, the goal they scored before half-time and the goal they scored after us.”
PSG had had its most glorious week since signing Messi in August. The 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the Champions League, this Tuesday in the Parc des Princes, had unleashed euphoria in the fans, the club, and the media in France, notably devoted to the cause of the Qatari investment in the soccer industry. The enthusiasm of the Champions League triumph was transmitted to the dressing room at the critical point that constitutes any interval between a day of great European night with a window of FIFA competitions. In the transition from stress to the national team call-up, many players took advantage of the days leading up to the Ligue 1 trip to Rennes to bask. That they did it under the magnifying glass of social networks reveals a striking disconnection with reality.
On Friday night the famous French model Cindy Bruna celebrated her 27th birthday in Paris. The party was attended by multiple Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton among other athletes, including Neymar Júnior, Marco Verratti and Kylian Mbappé, three of the most important figures of PSG, accompanied by friends like him Pocho Lavezzi, veteran of the Parisian team. The photos of the party traveled the ether without restraint.
This Sunday, when Neymar, Mbappé and Verratti jumped to play in Rennes, they did so as if they had an irrelevant rival in front of them, an unfortunate mid-table team unable to resist the wave of class that watered them down. The generous, supportive and amalgamated PSG that defeated City became a group of somewhat indolent individualists, less attentive in helping their teammates, concerned about personal display, and, naturally, unlucky. PSG finished off 13 times, all outside the frame that Gomis defended, if a stick from Messi is discounted to launch a free kick. Rennes, who took advantage of the bands neglected by their rival, counterattacked and stood in front of Donnarumma with more clarity. Of his 12 shots, four were between the three sticks and two hit the net.
Di María by Ander Herrera
The only difference from last Tuesday’s lineup was the change of Ander Herrera for Di María. One more tooth to the offensive gear detracted from the solidity of the midfield. Without Ander Herrera to do the dark coverage work and escort Verratti alongside Gueye, PSG lost consistency in all respects.
Questioned by Neymar, whom he replaced, Pochettino cleverly blamed himself: “In the same way that when we beat City it was for a collective issue, now too, the first person responsible is me.”
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