Category Archives: France

PSG’s 11th Ligue 1 title is historic. It just doesn’t feel that way

“The job is done. It has proven to be more stressful than anticipated but what many regarded as a foregone conclusion has belatedly been reached: Paris Saint-Germain are the champions of France for a record 11th time, courtesy of a rather underwhelming 1-1 draw away to Strasbourg. This is a landmark moment. French football has become accustomed to PSG title triumphs but this latest success puts that dominance on a new footing. …”
The Athletic

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Paris Saint-Germain Finances 2021/22


“Paris Saint-Germain are seemingly a club in crisis, even though they are currently on top of Ligue 1, as their results this season have been disappointing by their high standards, while rivals like Lens and Marseille are too close for comfort. Fans have recently called for the board to resign, criticising the club’s management for a lack of a sporting vision and poor recruitment, including many over-rated talents and mercenaries. They say that too many players are only in Paris for the money. …”
Swiss Ramble

As Lionel Messi leaves PSG, an opportunity arises for Luis Campos

“Neither of PSG’s two most recent marquee signings has worked out as hoped. Both could even be classed as outright mistakes in hindsight. However, as one’s Parisian journey looks set to end in acrimony, the other may yet deserve a second chance. As PSG beat Ajaccio 5-0 on Saturday to move within one win of another underwhelming league title, hopes of revolution again returned to the Parc des Princes. …”
Guardian

In a Superclub’s Shadow, Paris F.C. Tries to Raise Its Game

“The contrast could not be more stark. On a frigid Saturday evening earlier this year inside the Stade Charléty, a World War II-era stadium tucked alongside a highway, the stands are barely a quarter full. Only about 3,000 fans have turned up to watch Paris F.C., a crowd so small that when the home team goes to salute its support after its victory, the players need only to go to one corner of the stadium. The other sections are not even open, given the paltry demand for tickets. …”
NY Times
Guardian: Lionel Messi, Neymar and protests at PSG’s serially underachieving superstars

Mbappe is on course to break 10 records this season – and he’s not finished yet

Kylian Mbappe enjoys a unique status in the French game. In the 41st minute of Paris Saint-Germain’s trip to Angers on Friday, they won a corner. By that point, Mbappe had scored twice and Angers were staring at defeat, and probable confirmation of their relegation in the days to follow. Mbappe walked over to take the set piece, in between the Colombier and Jean Bouin stands, right in front of the home supporters. These were not Angers’ most vocal ultras, it must be said. But the 24-year-old raised his arms, as if to encourage the crowd to generate some noise. They did. And they cheered him. …”
The Athletic

European roundup: Barcelona held at Getafe, Union Berlin title dream fades

Barcelona were held to a second straight 0-0 draw in La Liga after mid-table Getafe managed to take a point off the leaders in a hard-fought game on Sunday. Xavi’s side, who drew 0-0 with Girona last weekend, still have a healthy lead over second-placed Real Madrid at the top of the standings. Madrid’s 2-0 win over Cádiz on Saturday means Barça’s lead is now 11 points with nine games left in the season. …”
Guardian

Lens dream of Champions League return after 20-year absence

“We’ve written about plenty of surprise packages in this column, but it’s rare for clubs to break into the European places in Ligue 1. Reims did it in 2018-19 but, other than that, the top seven of PSG, Marseille, Monaco, Lille, Rennes, Nice and Lyon have been remarkably consistent for the last half-decade. Lyon’s recent stutters have created an opportunity for a new face to secure a place in Europe. …”
Guardian
W – RC Lens

As Barcelona fail to spark, fans call for Lionel Messi once more

“In Barcelona’s two most recent home games — the loss to Real Madrid last week in the second leg of a Copa del Rey semi-final and the draw in La Liga against Girona on Monday night — fans at Camp Nou have been chanting Lionel Messi’s name in the 10th minute. ‘Messi! Messi!’ Those calls, symbolically timed for the minute matching the shirt number the Argentinian superstar wore for the Catalan club for so many years until that shock departure to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, echoed like a desperate song reminiscent of better times for Barcelona in the opposition penalty area. In neither of these last two matches have Barca managed to score. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Kylian Mbappe, a PSG marketing video that upset him and what we know about his future

“From the outside, it appeared to be just an ordinary marketing video sent to Paris Saint-Germain season ticket holders to try to coax them into a renewal. But then, on Thursday, an Instagram story appeared on Kylian Mbappe’s account, expressing to his 102 million followers that he was unhappy about the whole thing. … This was not the first time Mbappe has used social media to vent his frustrations. Last October, after a 0-0 Ligue 1 draw with Reims, Mbappe dropped a subtle message on an Instagram story about his perceived unhappiness at being played as a central striker. …”
The Athletic

Thriving in Transition: A Scouting Report on Folarin Balogun

“When big clubs loan their youngsters out, it doesn’t always work out that well. A common outcome is a loaned-out player sitting on the bench at a relegation-battling side that plays in a style diametrically opposite to their parent club’s, and it can cost the player a year of their development at a crucial stage. Folarin Balogun’s spell at Stade Reims might be an example on the other end of the spectrum. …”
The Analyst (Video)

Where is the best fit for Nagelsmann after Bayern: Tottenham, PSG, Real Madrid, Chelsea?

“It’s amazing to think Julian Nagelsmann is still only 35. It’s a testament to his talent that he is more established than someone of his age may otherwise be, and feels like he’s been around forever. He was the Bundesliga’s youngest permanent head coach when he took charge of Hoffenheim aged 28, and was still just 33 when he arrived at Bayern Munich. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Bayern Munich, Julian Nagelsmann and a very surprising sacking (Video)

Lionel Messi, PSG and what we’re hearing about his future

Lionel Messi in Paris. Will there be another season? That is one of the most important plotlines at play at the Parc des Princes right now and, judging by this week’s latest instalment of Parisian drama, a conclusion is still some way off. On Friday, Jorge Messi, the Argentinian forward’s father, posted a dramatic message on his Instagram story. It read: ‘Danger — FAKE NEWS!!!!’, followed by emojis of an exclamation mark, a radioactive symbol and a skull. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Ligue 1 relegation battle shows it pays to be decisive if sacking a manager

“Football clubs are often indecisive when the stakes are high. Too often they dither over transfers, dropping players who have lost form, or dismissing managers. The dangers of this approach has been on show in Ligue 1 this season, where the relegation of four clubs rather than the usual three has made the need for success even more acute than usual. Ligue 2 is a particularly difficult division to bounce back from, as St-Étienne are discovering. Having been relegated from the top flight last season, they are now 13th in the second tier. …”
Guardian

P.S.G.’s Star System Has Run Its Course

“Nobody at Paris St.-Germain seemed particularly upset at being knocked out of the Champions League. Christophe Galtier, the coach, made all the right noises, of course. It was a terrible disappointment, he said. A great shame, because this is a competition that really means a lot to the club. Very sad for all concerned. Kylian Mbappé, meanwhile, came across so phlegmatic that he seemed almost detached, as if the whole thing had happened only in the abstract. …”
NY Times

Pressure builds on PSG players, coach and director despite late win over Lille

“When PSG were trailing Lille 3-2 with 15 minutes to play, coach Christophe Galtier was joined on the touchline at the Parc des Princes. Famed sporting director Luis Campos, who engineered Lille and Monaco’s recent title-winning squads, left his usual seat in the stands to bark orders and complain about decisions. Although known to be fiercely opinionated, Campos’ ire spilling over in such a public fashion is unprecedented. After three consecutive defeats in three competitions last week, pressure is growing on Galtier. Campos, it seems, feels it too. …”
Guardian

The Oligarchs’ Derby


“Olympiacos called it the Match for Peace. On April 9 last year, a little more than a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Greek club staged a friendly with Shakhtar Donetsk. It was a heartfelt, poignant sort of occasion, the first game Shakhtar had played since it had fled a war in its homeland. Before the game, each of Shakhtar’s players emerged with Ukraine’s flag — cornfield yellow, summer blue — draped over their shoulders. Both teams’ jerseys were adorned with the slogan: ‘Stop War.’ All proceeds from ticket sales for the game, held at Olympiacos’s Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus, would be used to help support refugees from the fighting. …”
NY Times

Did the World Cup break PSG?

PSG’s seasons follow a similar pattern; summer full of big-name transfers, start the season with a bang, trail off towards the end of the season, and crash out of the Champions League. However, they have started to trail off even earlier this season, and look like losing out on the Champions League even earlier than usual. So what is different about this season? Has the mid-season World Cup had an impact? Jon Mackenzie writes, Marco Bevilacqua illustrates.
YouTube

European Super League: This week was a glimpse of what that world could look like

Liverpool vs Everton, Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich, AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal vs Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea, Barcelona vs Manchester United. From Monday to Thursday, this week’s football fixtures have offered night after night of glamorous, high-profile match-ups between some of European football’s elite clubs. …”
The Athletic (Video)

European roundup: Neymar carried off before Messi’s late winner for PSG

“Lionel Messi scored a stunning free-kick in added time to earn Paris Saint-Germain a 4-3 comeback win over Lille and lift them eight points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 standings. PSG, who have struggled for consistency since their return from the World Cup break, extended their lead over second-placed Marseille who travel to Toulouse later on Sunday. …”
Guardian (Serie A, Germany, Video)

The best goalkeeping performances in Champions League history – ranked

“There’s been plenty of brilliant individual performances in the UEFA Champions League down the years. Lionel Messi vs. Man Utd, Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Juventus, Ronaldo (R9) vs. Manchester United are some of the standouts from the outfield players, but what about goalkeepers? Well, here’s the five best from the boys between the posts. …”
90min

Liverpool, Real Madrid and terror at the Champions League final: Fans’ stories


“The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid should have been one of last year’s great sporting showpieces — a meeting between two of European football’s aristocrats, in one of Europe’s grandest venues, in one of its finest cities, for arguably club football’s greatest prize. Instead, the day turned into a nightmare for thousands of supporters. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Bayern switching the play tormented PSG’s exposed defence — and Coman made them pay


“For many years, the Champions League has decided the narrative of the whole season for Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, regardless of their domestic performances. In this one, that applies more than ever. The turbulence both of these European giants are experiencing in their own leagues has put more pressure on the playing squads and their respective managers, Julian Nagelsmann and Christophe Galtier, going into their face-off in the Champions League’s round of 16. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Kingsley Coman returns to haunt PSG and give Bayern Munich the edge

Champions League last-16 preview: Analysing each team’s tactics

“Europe’s top competition is back. For those who have missed the soothing tones of the Champions League anthem, fear not. The knockout stage is upon us and we have 16 more games to feast on over the next four weeks. Using FiveThirtyEight’s well-respected prediction model, Bayern Munich stand as favourites to win the competition, edging ahead of Manchester City, Real Madrid and dark horses Napoli. However, we all know how knockout football works — do not expect things to go the way you might predict. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Uefa had ‘primary responsibility’ for Champions League final chaos, damning report finds

“Uefa bears ‘primary responsibility’ for the catastrophic organisational and safety failures that turned last season’s Champions League final into a horrific, traumatic experience for thousands of supporters, Uefa’s own review has concluded. That central finding, and alarming criticisms of the culture and operations at the confederation of European football, and of the French police, are made in a damning report produced by the panel Uefa appointed to review the chaos that engulfed the final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Paris last May. …”

Stats, scouting and smart coaching: how Toulouse exceed expectations

“‘Believe in yourselves. We are right. You are right. The coaching staff are right,’ said an impassioned Damien Comolli. The former Liverpool and Tottenham director, now Toulouse president, was trying to inspire a dejected dressing room as the players slumped in their seats after a 6-1 rout by Marseille at the end of December. Comolli’s faith has proven well-placed. The team responded by going on a five-game unbeaten run that only ended this weekend, when they were narrowly defeated 2-1 by PSG in Paris. Toulouse, one of the more avant garde teams in Ligue 1, keep exceeding expectations. …”
Guardian

Real Madrid, Mbappe and the story that won’t go away. Get ready for more smoke and mirrors

Real Madrid have not forgotten about Kylian Mbappe and Mbappe has most definitely not forgotten about Real Madrid. From the outside, things might appear to be quite different. Madrid have talked down the prospect of signing the 24-year-old striker — both publicly and privately — because they do not want this topic to be in the media. After what happened with their failed attempts to sign Mbappe last summer, they are proceeding with caution. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Nice’s embarrassing Coupe de France exit shows how big a mess they are in


Le Puy players celebrate after their victory over Nice in the Coupe de France.
“There are moments in a season that can provoke profound self-reflection in a club. Nice’s shock 1-0 defeat to Le Puy-en-Velay Foot 43 Auvergne in the round of 64 of the Coupe de France represents one of those moments, laying bare the incoherence of Ineos’ project. Flashback to last May and Nice, under the stewardship of now-PSG manager Christophe Galtier, were playing in the Coupe de France final against Nantes. …”
Guardian

Will Still has made the jump from Football Manager to Preston to Ligue 1


Will Still / Reims
“Stade de Reims’ defeat to Marseille on the opening day of the season is looking increasingly far away these days and not just because of the World Cup break. Reims’ 3-1 win over Rennes on Thursday night was their eighth match in a row without defeat, a run that has coincided with the installation of Will Still as their manager. Some of the games in that run have been against the league’s lesser lights – and Reims were not majorly disrupted by the World Cup, with only Junya Ito playing in Qatar – but the evidence of the young manager’s positive influence continues apace. …”
Guardian

Confusion, exasperation and dating apps – my month as a gay reporter at the Qatar World Cup Confusion, exasperation and dating apps – my month as a gay reporter at the Qatar World Cup


“The morning after Germany were dramatically knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage, I took a walk around the backstreets of Doha. For the first time in my life, I was confronted, in person, by a sign telling me I was not welcome. Across Qatar’s capital, we often saw flags, usually for the 32 nations competing at the World Cup. This time, alongside Qatari national flags and a banner saying, ‘Welcome’, I saw a piece of paper: a rainbow flag with a no-entry symbol over the top of it. Beneath it, in red letters, the sign said: ‘Not allowed in Qatar’. In Britain, I had read about signs like this, whether they were against black people, Irish people or immigrants in years gone by. I am not making a direct comparison; I am not trapped in a hostile environment. For me, this was merely a moment in time. For others, it can be a lifetime. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Ligue 1 Rest of Season Predictions 2022-23

“All eyes will be on Ligue 1 when football returns after the World Cup. Ah, wait. Hold on a second. All eyes on Ligue 1? More precisely, all eyes will be on Paris Saint-Germain. The club’s two biggest stars headlined possibly the best World Cup final ever. Given the stakes and the drama, it might have been the greatest game of football ever but soon Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé will turn their attention away from each other and onto their French league opponents as they look to torture them into submission during the club’s quest for honours in 2023. …”
The Analyst

Today I Have Very Strong Feelings – Jonathan Wilson

“A month ago, Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, made his now infamous ‘I am Spartacus’ speech at the World Cup’s opening press conference. ‘Today I have very strong feelings, today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel a migrant worker,’ he said, before adding, ‘Of course, I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied.’ Two days before Sunday’s final, he returned to the microphone to announce, a bit prematurely, that this had been the ‘best World Cup ever.’ It pains me to say it, n terms of pure football, and especially given the galactically great final—a game that will remain, as everyone pretty much agrees, unsurpassed in the annals of football history—he was right on the money. …”
The Paris Review

World champions but second: Why Argentina are below Brazil in FIFA’s world rankings

Argentina will not go into 2023 as FIFA’s number one ranked team. Fresh off lifting the World Cup, you might expect Lionel Scaloni’s side to move top of the leaderboard but they have had to settle for second. It is Brazil — one of the sides knocked out in the quarter-final in Qatar – who have retained top spot, their only consolation from a rather forgettable fortnight. …”
The Athletic

Huge crowd forces Argentina victory parade to be completed by helicopter


Argentine soccer fans descend on the capital’s Obelisk to celebrate their team’s World Cup victory over France, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Argentina’s triumphant World Cup-winning squad were forced to complete their victory parade in Buenos Aires with a helicopter flyover after a crowd of millions brought their open-top bus to a standstill, with reports suggesting 18 people were injured in the celebrations and footage appearing to show one fan diving on to the squad’s bus. The streets of the capital were thronged by millions of ecstatic supporters, with the homecoming of Lionel Messi and company having been declared a national holiday following their thrilling penalty shootout win against France in Qatar. …”
Guardian

This was the Angel Di Maria final — then he came off and Argentina very nearly fell apart


“For one hour, three minutes and 52 seconds, Angel Di Maria was the best player in the world. This was the same day that 35-year-old Lionel Messi would kiss the World Cup trophy to seal his place as the greatest footballer of all time, and his historic performance would deserve it. Kylian Mbappe, the outstanding player of the tournament, would score three goals after the 80th minute and leave not even a baguette crumb of doubt who will take over when Messi is gone. …”
The Athletic (Video)

World Cup tactical trends: Lots of width, set-piece goals down, and who needs possession?


“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Thirty-two teams, 28 days, 64 games and they saved the best one until last. Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina lifted the trophy last night after a pulsating penalty shootout victory against France. Across the whole tournament, we had on-field drama, off-field controversy and even a half-time cameo from Chesney Hawkes. There is barely enough time to reflect and take stock of the past month before we swiftly pivot back to domestic football, but let’s take all take a minute to indulge ourselves in some numbers, shall we? Allow The Athletic to walk you through some of the data trends we have spotted in Qatar. …”
The Athletic

Argentina, caught in economic depression, gets something to cheer in World Cup win


Argentina will hold general elections in October next year
“BUENOS AIRES — An incredibly tense World Cup final, if not the best of all time. An extraordinary victory for Argentina that crowns the career of superstar Lionel Messi. A new hope for a country in deep crisis. Argentina beat France in a penalty shoot-out after the match ended tied 3-3, causing hundreds of thousands of citizens to pour into the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate, chant and dance. The obelisk, the landmark monument of the South American capital that houses over 17 million people in its broader agglomeration, was quickly covered in a sea of people. …”
POLITICO
NY Times: Argentina Hits the Streets for Long-Awaited Celebration

Argentina beat France on penalties to win World Cup: Messi’s legacy, Mbappe’s hat-trick


“One of the most exciting World Cup finals of all time was won on penalties by Argentina after Kylian Mbappe had scored a hat-trick to force the shootout. Argentina were coasting to victory with an hour gone with the score at 2-0 thanks to goals by Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria. But when Di Maria came off in the 64th minute the game changed, and France and Mbappe’s confidence grew and grew. … Argentina went ahead through Messi’s close-range finish but Gonzalo Montiel’s handball gave Mbappe the chance to complete his hat-trick. He went the same way with his second penalty, hard to Emiliano Martinez’s right. Martinez was Argentina’s hero in the shootout, saving a spot kick from Kingsley Coman before Aurelien Tchouameni put his effort wide. Montiel, who had given away the penalty in the 117th minute, scored the one that sealed the victory. …”
The Athletic (Video)
The Athletic: Argentina are the most tactically flexible World Cup winners we have ever seen – Michael Cox
The Analyst – Argentina 3-3 France: Debate Over as Lionel Messi Finally Wins The World Cup
SI: Argentina, Messi Win Epic World Cup Final in PKs, Overcoming Mbappe’s Hat-Trick Heroics (Video)
Guardian – Argentina 3-3 France (aet, 4-2 on pens): World Cup final player ratings
CNN: Stepping out of Maradona’s shadow. How Lionel Messi won over the hearts of all of Argentina
The Athletic: Lionel Messi doesn’t need the ball to hurt you (Video)

Ousmane Dembele – a guide to France’s incompletely brilliant winger


“In Paris, somewhere in the Louvre, in halls packed with tourists snapping selfies in front of all things beautiful and gift shop-worthy, there’s a sculpture that gets largely overlooked. Unlike the gods around it, this one is incomplete. ‘We cannot know his legendary head / with eyes like ripening fruit,’ Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of the decapitated marble torso. But the poet was fascinated by this broken, perfect body that seemed ‘suffused with brilliance from within’. He lingered on the ‘placid hips’, the shoulders, the way the stone itself ‘burst like a star’. The poem ends abruptly, with a command to the reader that is akin to a slap in the face: ‘You must change your life.’ …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Ousmane Dembélé

‘Maybe I started his career!’ – The man that got Lionel Messi sent off on his Argentina debut

“Vilmos Vanczak will watch the World Cup final from his home in Hungary, willing Lionel Messi to succeed. Should the Argentina legend lift football’s biggest prize on Sunday in Qatar, Vanczak will, with his tongue pressed firmly in his cheek, smile and take a little of the credit. …”
The Athletic (Video)

France’s 2018 vs France 2022 – how have Deschamps’ side evolved tactically?


“‘You know that I don’t like comparing teams between the years,’ said France head coach Didier Deschamps after their quarter-final victory over England. But on Wednesday night they became just the fifth defending champions to reach the World Cup final and the first European side to do so since Italy in 1938. If they beat Argentina on Sunday they will become the first team in 60 years (Brazil in 1962) to retain the world crown. Deschamps might not like the comparison but, given their injuries and poor form coming into the tournament, how have they adapted their tactics to reach another final? …”
The Athletic (Video)
Slate: Nobody Can Stay in Front of These Frenchmen Forever (Video)

World Cup final tactical preview: Messi loves to exploit the exact spaces Mbappe leaves open


“Four years ago, France defeated Argentina 4-3 in a genuine epic of a World Cup second-round game. It was the day Kylian Mbappe transformed from a future great into one of the world’s best — his stunning 70-yard sprint to win a penalty ended up being the defining image of his World Cup, France’s World Cup, and World Cup 2018 overall. Lionel Messi, part of a shambolic Argentina side, was peripheral. It seemed Messi’s dominance was over. After 11 years in the top three, he didn’t finish on the Ballon d’Or podium that year. Neither, in fairness, did Mbappe — although he was obviously the coming force, set to become better and better. …”
The Athletic

World Cup 2022 briefing: Argentina v France will provide subplots aplenty


“Lisandro Martínez v Raphaël Varane, Leandro Paredes v Adrien Rabiot, Cristian Romero v Hugo Lloris and Nahuel Molina v Antoine Griezmann. These are subplots we can look forward to when Argentina face France in the final on Sunday. While everyone is thinking about Lionel Messi v Kylian Mbappé, there are plenty of clubmates preparing to do battle for the right to be champions of the planet, the entire planet. In theory, Martínez and Varane could team up as a centre-back pairing for Manchester United’s Carabao Cup tie against Burnley next Wednesday. You could imagine the relationship would be somewhat soured by the result in Qatar on Sunday. …”
Guardian (Video)

Morocco starting in a 5-4-1 system cost them their shot at the World Cup final


“Before Morocco’s semi-final with France, Walid Regragui made a surprise decision. Having guided Morocco further than any other African side in World Cup history with a 4-5-1 formation, he decided to start this contest with a 5-4-1. It owed much to the fitness problems of his defenders. Nayef Aguerd pulled out shortly before kick-off, Romain Saiss lasted 20 minutes, and Noussair Mazraoui didn’t make it to the second half. With concerns about the mobility of those defenders, and up against France’s speedy wingers, Regragui opted to load up on another defender. On paper, it made sense. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

France beat Morocco to reach final: Mbappe v Messi, Amrabat’s tackle and a rare fast start


W – Antoine Griezmann
France withstood an impressive Morocco display to set up a World Cup final with Argentina on Sunday that pits Kylian Mbappe against his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Lionel Messi. Theo Hernandez, who came into the France side in the first game when his brother Lucas suffered a tournament-ending knee injury, scored the opening goal after just five minutes, acrobatically steering the ball past goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. …”
The Athletic
NY Times: Why Antoine Griezmann Is France’s Most Important Player
Guardian: France bring Morocco’s adventure to an end and reach World Cup final
Guardian: Antoine Griezmann’s devilment gives France the edge when it matters
The Analyst: France 2-0 Morocco: France Through to Fourth Final in Last Seven World Cups

How England kept France’s star forward Kylian Mbappe quiet


“‘There are a handful of players you need to consider for special attention,’ England assistant coach Steve Holland said before the quarter-final against France. ‘You’d have to put (Kylian) Mbappe in that category. We need to look at trying to avoid leaving ourselves in situations where he is as devastating as we’ve seen.’ On a night when Mbappe recorded just one shot and one key pass, and failed to score or assist for the first time when starting a game at this World Cup, here is how England managed to keep him quiet… ”
The Athletic

Alan Shearer: Kane’s penalty miss will hurt and haunt him every day for the rest of his life

“… Harry is an exceptional centre-forward, an exceptional player full stop. I know his position and I know his mindset and I know he will put his head on the pillow on this night and the next and a few more besides and he will blink and stare at the ceiling. He will re-live his penalty over and over. He will revisit it, he will re-take it and in his mind’s eye he will convince himself that this time, he’s scoring. And I promise you, it will stay with him forever. …”
The Athletic

England 1-2 France: Kane’s penalty miss, Lloris breaks record, Saka dominant on the right


Harry Kane missed an 84th-minute penalty as England were beaten 2-1 by the reigning champions France in the World Cup quarter-finals. The skied spot-kick, six minutes after Olivier Giroud had restored France’s lead, meant the game finished in 90 minutes. England captain Kane had earlier scored a penalty — and been denied one in the first half after a foul by Dayot Upamecano just outside the area. Aurelien Tchouameni put France ahead in the first half with an impressive strike from distance and Didier Deschamps’ side will now play surprise package Morocco in the semi-finals on Wednesday. …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times: Kane’s Miss Will Be Another Ghost to Haunt England
Guardian: Cruel on Kane but England should feel no disgrace at losing to world’s best

Pochettino: Only man to coach Kane and Mbappe on their rare talents – and how to stop them

“One of the turning points in Harry Kane’s career came a few weeks into my first season as Tottenham manager. I had started with Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado as our two first-choice strikers — great players, senior players, and deserving of respect. Harry was only starting in the Europa League. On September 18, we played at Partizan Belgrade, but Harry struggled and we drew 0-0. Three days later, when we played West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, I didn’t even put him on the bench. …”
The Athletic (Video)

World Cup 2022 power rankings: how the remaining eight teams shape up

“We cast our eye over the quarter-finalists’ key strengths and assess who is most likely to lift the trophy in Qatar. 1 – Brazil.  The Seleção are in full flight and, as you may have heard, enjoying themselves in the process. Their first-half evisceration of South Korea felt like a throwback, moments such as Richarlison’s seal impression offering reminders of those days when nobody could rival Brazil for sheer fun. Even without Gabriel Jesus they retain a depth of attacking talent few can match, partly thanks to Neymar’s Lazarus-like recovery from injury. …”
Guardian

France 3-1 Poland: Giroud’s new record, fine margins and how do you stop Mbappe?


France are through to the World Cup quarter-finals after comfortably beating Poland 3-1. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring on the 44th minute — a goal that also made him France’s all-time top goal scorer. And then Kylian Mbappe happened. The mercurial Frenchman scored two stunning goals to give France a 3-0 lead. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic: Breaking down the brilliance of Kylian Mbappe, the man who can score any type of goal
NY Times: Mbappé and France make a statement in extending their title defense.

France 2-1 Denmark: Sparkling Dembele and why this is Mbappe’s tournament for the taking

Denmark have been France’s bogey team in recent years, but Kylian Mbappe had other ideas in their World Cup clash at Stadium 974, scoring twice to secure a 2-1 victory that makes it two wins from two for the reigning champions. Denmark had beaten France twice in 2022 and looked to be on course for a draw before Mbappe struck for a second time in the 86th minute. Early on, his opening goal had been cancelled out by an Andreas Christensen header. …”
The Athletic

Why some World Cup managers are using their full-backs to do very different jobs


“Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands head coach, has described his asymmetric lateral defenders as a ‘steering wheel’. That is, when Daley Blind (left wing-back) pushes forward, Denzel Dumfries (right wing-back) has to drop deeper and vice-versa. Full-backs, or wing-backs, being pivotal to a team’s chance creation is no longer novel at club level but is underpinning the attacking success of many sides in the first round of World Cup fixtures. …”
The Athletic

The Radar – The Athletic’s 2022 World Cup scouting guide


“Welcome to The Radar — the World Cup edition. Last year, for Euro 2020, we profiled 60 players that people were talking about — or would be by the end of the competition. Thirty-four of those players have since moved club. More teams means more players, so for the World Cup we’ve upped that to 100. The result is below, a carefully crafted guide to some of the best footballers on show in Qatar listed alphabetically by country — the heavyweight names, the rising stars and the under-the-radar players who could be coming to an elite club near you. …”
The Athletic

Art of saving a one-on-one: The spread, the block, the smother and the wait

“There was no World Cup call-up for Illan Meslier, even in the absence of AC Milan’s Mike Maignan, and no trip away with France’s Under-21s either. Leeds United would have been thrilled to see Meslier in Qatar but in the absence of that, common sense said that rest would do him good. The French Under-21s have a friendly against Norway planned for Saturday and Meslier, ordinarily, would have been part of the squad but clubs were not obliged to release players for the fixture and the decision was taken to sit him out, giving him a week’s holiday like most of Leeds’ dressing room. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Illan Meslier

Who Will Be This Year’s World Cup Supernova?

“Michael Owen, Mario Götze, and Kylian Mbappé anointed themselves as stars with stellar World Cup performances. Will any young players usher in a new era at this year’s tournament? There are very few moments in world history that can unite entire generations in awe. At the head of that very short list, you will find the moon landing. A couple of lines further down, but still on the same page, you will see an athletic feat of rare brilliance: say, Usain Bolt breaking the sound barrier in the Olympic 100-meter final. …”
The Ringer

Mapping out Brazil’s Potential Route to the World Cup Final

“What if Brazil’s preparation for the 2006 World Cup in Germany had been more intense? What if Felipe Melo hadn’t received a red card in 2010? What if Neymar hadn’t been injured ahead of the semi-final in 2014? What if Thibaut Courtois hadn’t saved that shot from Renato Augusto in 2018? Brazil supporters are always looking back at the past, imagining a scenario where the Seleção have already won their sixth World Cup title. But now, with the help of our tournament simulator model, we can estimate the probabilities of the ‘Hexa‘ happening in Qatar 2022. …’
The Analyst

World Cup 2022 Group D guide: France’s high press, Denmark’s inverted wingers and an Australian giant

“How will France set up under Didier Deschamps? What is Australia’s biggest weakness? What can we expect from Tunisia? The 2022 World Cup is nearly upon us and The Athletic will be running in-depth tactical group guides so you will know what to expect from every nation competing in Qatar. Liam Tharme will look at each team’s playing style, strengths, weaknesses, key players and highlight things to keep an eye on during the tournament. …”
The Athletic (Video)

World Cup 2022 Groups: The Predictions


“The 2022 World Cup is finally here, with the tournament in Qatar being the first held in the months of November and December since the first World Cup finals in 1930. The 22nd men’s FIFA World Cup tournament will see 32 teams battle it out in the group stage after qualifying via five different regions – Asia, Africa, South America, North America/Central America and Europe (no nation from Oceania qualified). From there, 16 will make it through to the knockout stages. …”
The Analyst

Deschamps interview: France’s ‘complicated’ World Cup defence, filling Pogba and Kante void

“Didier Deschamps contemplates the perception of problems around the French camp with the tenacity anyone who watched him patrolling a midfield would expect. His expression, as a series of issues are laid before him, is determinedly dismissive. What of the controversies? The scandals? The endless polemics about Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and so on? …”
The Athletic

‘Racism’: Qataris decry French cartoon of national football team

“A cartoon by a French newspaper depicting Qatari footballers as terrorists has sparked outrage on social media, with users calling out its ‘blatant Islamophobia’ and ‘racism’. The caricature was published by Le Canard enchainé in its October issue, which focuses on Qatar and its role as the FIFA World Cup 2022 host. The image depicts seven bearded men with ‘Qatar’ written across their chests above big numbers. They appear to be chasing a football in the sand while carrying machetes, guns and rocket launchers. One wears a belt laden with explosives. Five are wearing blue robes and two are wearing black shirts and pants with balaclavas covering their faces. ….”
Aljazeera (Video)