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Barcelona turn around, Real Madrid is not perfect

Wednesday's Supercopa de Espana clash ended with Real defeating Barca, but there were many things that are encouraging and worrying for both sides. (Author: Gardener)

BarcelonaWednesday's Supercopa de Espana clash between Clasico rivals did not disappoint as Real Madrid captured their 3-2 win over Barcelona in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Saudi Arabia. (Stream highlights here: US only.) After Barca fought back two goals to bring the game into overtime, Federico Valverde's 98th-minute goal cleared the matter and brought Carlo Ancelotti's side to Sunday's final where they will meet at Athletic Club or Atletico Madrid for the title. - ESPN + viewer guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more Alex Kirkland (Real Madrid) and Sam Marsden (Barcelona) portray the game from both perspectives. Real Madrid's win was, in a way, the season so far. The win highlighted some of their notable strengths - and they will be enough to run them through most games - but it also revealed some weaknesses, some of which could cost them in more important competitions than this mid-season Supercopa. In the first half the team was cheerfully direct and clinical, with Vinicius Junior cutting inward to initiate the attack and Karim Benzema and Luka Modric pulling the strings. Vinicius' opening game in the 25th minute was an example of how far he has come as a player as he made a difficult opportunity look effortless. When they go up against all but the very best, the sheer quality of Madrid's best players will tend to pull them through. Benzema prepared Vinicius for his start with a carefully weighted pass and scored his own goal with typical composure in the 72nd minute, having forced a good save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen shortly before. Madrid also have a well-built, strong squad, although coach Carlo Ancelotti is reluctant to use them. Rodrygo, Lucas Vazquez and Matchwinner Valverde were all hands-on, energetic introductions when the starters ran out of legs in the second half. Ancelotti is doing his best to minimize this by allowing them to skip the pressing and sit deeper in midfield instead, but there will still be games where they will be overrun like they sometimes do early in the second half of Barcelona's exuberant youth. He is complicit in both Barca goals. Ancelotti has many admirable qualities and deserves credit for quickly turning this team into a largely efficient counter unit looking to play to their strengths, but his insistence on staying with the same side week after week could keep Madrid later in the season cost season. Back home, the points from the first half of the La Liga season should be enough to bring Ancelotti his long-awaited first Spanish championship title. But one wonders whether it will be enough against Manchester City, Chelsea or Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel for Barcelona. They've been in the dark for most of the season, knocked out of the Champions League and sixth in LaLiga, but Wednesday's loss to Real Madrid at least showed that they are able to keep up with their rivals again. "Compete" has been a catchphrase for coach Xavi Hernandez since beating Bayern Munich 3-0 in December. After that defeat in Germany, he said it was time for the club to turn the page and start a new chapter in its history. Ahead of his game against Madrid this week, he urged his players to make this extra Clasico a turning point for their season. Based on the Madrid game, it could prove to be just that, even if it ended in loss. For the first time in a long time, Barca faced what many would call favorites in the Champions League. Madrid are at the top of LaLiga, 17 points ahead of Barca, but the gap wasn't apparent on the pitch in Riyadh. Barca worked intermittently in the first half and may have been too cautious but they woke up after Vinicius' opening game. Luuk de Jong had already seen two header hits saved by Courtois when he accidentally turned into the house after Militaos for a casual equalizer. The Catalans have fought for goals this season - they have only scored two goals in six Champions League games - but they forgot their problems after De Jong equalized. They even looked like they were having fun. With the introduction of the always brilliant Pedri, who came back for the first time since September after his recovery, they started the second half on the forefoot. Chances came and went, but it looked like their efforts would be in vain as Karim Benzema restored Madrid lead. Another catchphrase from Xavi was "bravery". He wants his players to take risks with the ball and he certainly set a good example there as Barca have been forced to watch the game, switch to a 3-2-3-2 formation and receive his reward . Ansu Fati, like Pedri, headed a cross from Jordi Alba to put the game into extra time. "Tiene gol", they say in Spain ("he has a goal") and Ansu determined it. It was his fifth goal of the season in his only ninth appearance, five of them as a substitute. Barca had chances to win the game in extra time but got caught at break and left two on four when Madrid countered to win the game through Valverde. The history books will show a fifth straight win for Madrid in the Clasico but it could also mark a turning point for Barca. For the first time since December 2019, they avoided a 90-minute defeat against Madrid and could have won the game in addition to the competition. There was also a return for youngsters Pedri and Ansu, both so important to this Barca side, and a full debut for Ferran Torres after his € 55m move from Manchester City. President Joan Laporta recently announced that "Barca are back". They still have a long way to go on and off the square, but under Xavi they see them on the right track. With a well-trained squad and one of the most exciting young players in Europe, they should at least make it into the top four this season and not miss the Champions League.

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PSG shot for Antonio Rudiger, outbid Real Madrid, Chelsea - report

But who will he choose? (Author: Gardener)

Antonio RudigerThe Antonio Rüdiger competition is getting hot. A report by Foot Mercato over the weekend said PSG made their offer and it is a spectacular one indeed. They are said to offer an annual net salary of 7 million euros, which roughly corresponds to a weekly gross salary of around 200-250,000 pounds. That is obviously a fair bit better than Chelsea's last offer in September of £ 140,000 and apparently better than any offer from Real Madrid - who, despite Rüdiger's alleged fondness for them, may or may not still be on the matter. The report claims that for the 28-year-old there is now a head (i.e. if he chooses money (PSG) or prestige (Real) or maybe “connection and trust”, as Thomas Tuchel did on the Friday before our FA Cup third round match "He's a guy who has to trust you. He has to feel the connection and the trust. He has to feel it through minutes and actions. I don't have the feeling that Toni needs a lot of words, coffee conversations or invitations to dinner or something Anyway. He's a top professional. “The talks are in good hands.

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Difficult questions for Mikel Arteta about Arsenal's progress after early FA Cup exit in Nottingham Forest

The FA Cup made Mikel Arteta a name at Arsenal. Now, after an early exit at Nottingham Forest, he has to prove the competition is irrelevant. (Author: Gardener)

Nottingham ForestArsenal were eliminated from the FA Cup after losing 1-0 to Nottingham Forest in the third round. Arsenal were eliminated from the FA Cup after losing 1-0 to Nottingham Forest in the third round. NOTTINGHAM, England - The FA Cup was made by Mikel Arteta as coach. Arsenal's pathetic 1-0 third-round knockout at Nottingham Forest on Sunday was exactly the kind of performance he'd hoped to make history, riddled with indifference and devoid of the focus their hosts had all along. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang went from talisman to underdog for not having shown the required "dedication and passion" according to Arteta - but if that's the benchmark then some of the cast here are at risk for spells in the wild after. Even taking into account the lack of staff - which was almost double-digit due to a mix of COVID-19, injuries and absences from the Africa Cup - this felt like a real step backwards in Arteta's mission to build a high base. Level of performance from which Arsenal can rediscover former glory. Arteta won this competition in 2020 through a series of determined and clinical achievements that validate a first-time manager's methodology. Arsenal have subsequently backed that ruling by moving up to the Premier League's top four halfway through the current season. That advance has sparked real optimism that they can soon return to the Champions League and rise to a status that makes the FA Cup a trivial proposition rather than a defining event. They didn't register a single shot on target and their all-white kit, a one-off as part of a knife crime initiative, was the best thing about them on the City Ground. "First of all, I'm really disappointed with the performance," said Arteta afterwards. "Not with the attitude, but with how much we are aiming and the determination we have shown to change the game when it is difficult to play against them and how they play, based on what we saw on the pitch , it is difficult to agree with the assessment. " Arsenal's stance was on point, but what seemed most irritated was Arteta about his team's possession of the ball for a simple square pass rather than a more dynamic attack. Faced with a hot spell for Djed Spence - the Forest right-back on loan from Middlesbrough and certainly destined for the Premier League if he holds that level - Tavares was substituted off after just 35 minutes. The Portuguese threw his gloves on the floor and sank into the dugout after everyone was housed in it except Arteta. When asked what Tavares was doing wrong, Arteta replied simply, “I don't want to“ talk about individuals. ”Kieran Tierney replaced Tavares but Arsenal barely improved. Eddie Nketiah headed Arsenal's best chance when he scored Bukayo Saka in Missed the 58th minute, but Forest received the reward for his greater effort with the only goal seven minutes left. Albert Sambi Lokonga lost the ball cheaply in midfield so Ryan Yates could break the forest right. Lokonga has been around since his Summer arrival from Anderlecht showed promising but Belgian and teenager Charlie Patino, who made his first start for the club, was unable to gain a foothold in the game for a long time. Lokonga's negligent loss of the ball at the crucial moment brought Arsenal's already recognized need for a midfielder in This month to the point, but the combination of all four left Arsenal lights in the most combative area of ​​the field in a typically hostile FA Cup encounter that Arteta knows well. "I know because I've played in games like this for the last 18 years and I know how complicated it is to get here and it's no surprise the difficulties you face," said Arteta. I want to try to get the most out of the players we have. I think it's clear where we need to strengthen [in January] but for now we have it. And with what we have, we have to play. "No club has won the FA Cup more than Arsenal's 14. But here they wrote an undesirable story: This was only the second time in 26 seasons that the Gunners had won their third Losing lap last time was on the same ground in 2018 and it turned out that Arsene Wenger was the last season in charge that couldn't stop a decline into mediocrity. It was the same slide that Arteta is still trying to get to arrest.

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PSG makes an expensive offer for Rüdiger

With Antonio Rudiger's Chelsea deal running out this summer, Madrid seem like a likely target but PSG have made a high-priced official offer to poach him. Sebastian Frej / MB Media / Getty Images The January 2022 transfer window is open (find out when it closes here) ... (Author: Gardener)

PSGWith Antonio Rudiger's Chelsea deal running out this summer, Madrid seem like a likely target but PSG have made a high-priced official offer to poach him. Transfer Talk brings you the latest gossip, comings and goings, and of course, closed deals! Paris Saint-Germain have made an official offer to sign Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, according to Foot Mercato. The Ligue 1 club want to dissuade him from a possible move to Real Madrid and have therefore proposed a more lucrative salary package: a contract worth 7 million euros per season, according to the report. The move would be official when his contract with Chelsea expires in the summer. It seemed the 28-year-old center-back's preferred destination would be the Santiago Bernabeu. PSG sports director Leonardo is doing everything possible to convince Rüdiger to choose Paris as his next home. The German international has been a priority for Thomas Tuchel's side this season and the club are hoping he will extend his current tenure at Stamford Bridge. But the arrival of another top European club on the negotiating table could mean that the Blues will have to look for alternatives before next season. 08:00 GMT: Edinson Cavani has told Ralf Rangnick that he will be staying at Old Trafford until the end of the season, the interim manager of Manchester United said. Uncontracted this summer, Cavani has been linked with a January move to Barcelona or a return to South America, but Rangnick said the 34-year-old has promised to stay until the end of the season. "I told him that I would like him to stay if I had my way," said Rangnick. He came into my office and we talked for almost half an hour and he told me that he will definitely stay and that he wants to stay until the end of the season. "Not just because I told him to or must stay, he did it on his own behalf and he told me that I could count on him to stay and do his best until the end of the season there and plays a role. " Model for the young players. Aston Villa: Stream LIVE at 2:55 p.m. ET on ESPN + in the US. - Lucas Digne's next club is expected to be Aston Villa, according to Sky Sports. The Everton left-back has been on the radar of a number of Premier League sides during the winter transfer window but now it looks like a £ 25m transfer deal has been agreed with Steven Gerrard's side, and the 28-year-old stood too shortlisted by Napoli, although the Serie A club pulled back with reports that their salary claims are around £ 8.5 million per season. - Jürgen Klopp has no plans to leave Divock Origi during the current transfer window, according to Ekrem Konur, has recently been linked to moves to West Ham United and Fenerbahce but his performances have seen him be a frequent tool off the bench and scoring in December the winning goal against the wolves. - Philippe Coutinho could sign a permanent deal with Aston Villa. According to Fabrizio Romano, Barcelona have included a € 40million option clause to make the summer move permanent. The 29-year-old attacking midfielder is expected to have announced his loan deal with the Premier League club shortly after negotiations began on a deal last week. - Sevilla are ready to take another approach for Manchester United striker Anthony Martial, said Ekrem Konur. The La Liga club have maintained interest in a loan deal for the 26-year-old despite struggles with the salary the Red Devils would contribute and are now reportedly ready to try again to add firepower to the attack. Martial has fought for minutes this season and only started two games in the Premier League. - Newcastle United continue their search for a striker following Callum Wilson's injury and the Telegraph reports they have Burnley's Chris Wood in their sights. It is reported that they have already made an official request to the Clarets regarding a possible deal. The 30-year-old presented himself in mixed form this season and scored three goals in 17 league games.

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PSG are considering a huge transfer crash for Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly considering a big money exchange for Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who didn't return to west London until the summer of 2021. (Author: Gardener)

Romelu LukakuParis Saint-Germain are reportedly considering a big money exchange for Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who didn't return to west London until the summer of 2021. Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly considering a big money exchange for Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who didn't return to west London until the summer of 2021. Lukaku, who recently took part in a controversial interview hinting at a move to Inter, only joined Chelsea in August for a fee of £ 97.5million. With Kylian Mbappe expected to leave Paris in the summer, Nasser Al-Khelaifi could be keen to use a goal machine as a replacement. As reported by El Nacional, the French giants may be interested in offering up to 90 million euros for the Belgian striker. That money would cover most of what Chelsea paid for him over the summer, but the Blues would still lose about € 25m in transfer fees. Lukaku scored four goals in his first four games for Thomas Tuchel's side, which had an immediate impact. Since his return, he has scored three goals in his last four games which is promising for Chelsea fans. Should PSG switch to the Belgian striker in the summer, their offensive line-up would terrify any opponent.

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Poch defends the ailing Wijnaldum after the PSG draw

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino saw Georginio Wijnaldum fight in an advanced role in the 1-1 draw against Lyon in Ligue 1. (Author: Gardener)

WijnaldumWijnaldum has been cast in an attacking right-wing role, with Messi disfellowshipped after his most recent positive COVID-19 test. The runaway Ligue 1 leaders managed just three shots on goal in a frustrating game, had 68.4% possession but struggled to gain dominance, and Pochettino lamented his slow start after the final whistle. PSG needed a late strike from substitute Thilo Kehrer to take a point after falling over an hour after Lucas Paqueta's early goal. Dutch international Wijnaldum, who signed for PSG last June, had a pass accuracy of 95.6 percent but struggled to present a significant attack threat to Lyon in midfield. Asked after the game to assess Wijnaldum's problems, Pochettino defended his decision to put the midfielder in such an advanced role and in a variety of positions throughout his short PSG career. Pochettino, quoted in L'Equipe, said: "It's also a question of balance, the available players. I don't think it's a question of position, it's a question of form. He's used to playing in different positions. " PSG increased their recovery after replacing central midfielders Leandro Paredes and Ander Herrera on 69 minutes, and Wijnaldum followed them late in the game. The introductions of Thilo Kehrer, Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut have brought energy and enthusiasm, "said Pochettino. PSG remain at the top of the Ligue 1 table with 11 points but have now drawn four of their last five league games.

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Pochettino responds after Wijnaldum struggled with PSG's draw

Paris Saint Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino defended his selection after putting Georginio Wijnaldum in the usual Lionel Messi role - as the former Liverpool star worked in the 1-1 draw in Lyon. Wijnaldum has been cast in an attacking right-wing role, with Messi disfellowshipped after his most recent positive COVID-19 test. The out-of-control Ligue 1 leader managed only three shots [...] (Author: Gardener)

PSGParis Saint Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino defended his selection after putting Georginio Wijnaldum in the usual Lionel Messi role - as the former Liverpool star worked in the 1-1 draw in Lyon. Wijnaldum has been cast in an attacking right-wing role, with Messi disfellowshipped after his most recent positive COVID-19 test. The runaway Ligue 1 leaders managed just three shots on goal in a frustrating game, had 68.4% possession but struggled to gain dominance, and Pochettino lamented his slow start after the final whistle. PSG needed a late strike from substitute Thilo Kehrer to take a point after falling over an hour after Lucas Paqueta's early goal. Dutch international Wijnaldum, who signed for PSG last June, had a pass accuracy of 95.6 percent but struggled to present a significant attack threat to Lyon in midfield. Asked after the game to assess Wijnaldum's problems, Pochettino defended his decision to put the midfielder in such an advanced role and in a variety of positions during his short PSG career. Pochettino, quoted in L’Equipe, said: “It's also a question of balance, of the available players. I don't think it's a question of position, but of the state of form. He's used to playing in different positions. ”PSG have made their recovery after replacing central midfielders Leandro Paredes and Ander Herrera after 69 minutes and Wijnaldum followed them late in the game. The introduction of Thilo Kehrer, Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut brought energy and enthusiasm, ”said Pochettino. PSG remain at the top of the Ligue 1 table with an 11-point lead, but have now drawn four of their last five league games.

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Arsenal from the FA Cup, Liverpool and Tottenham avoid fuss

Arsenal have failed to transfer their improved Premier League form to the FA Cup after losing 1-0 to second division Nottingham Forest in the second big shock of the third round (Author: Gardener)

the FA CupArsenal have failed to transfer their improved Premier League form to the FA Cup as they lost 1-0 to second division Nottingham Forest in the second big shock of the third round, 1-0 to second division Nottingham Forest in the second big shock Tottenham's third round Harry Winks, left, celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the English FA Cup Third Round football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Morecambe at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Sunday 9 January 2022 Photo / Matt Dunham) Tottenham's Harry Winks, left, celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the third round of the English FA Cup soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Morecambe at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Sunday 9 January 2022 (AP Photo / Matt Dunham) Third-round elimination in the FA Cup isn't a common occurrence for Arsenal. Arsenal failed to transfer their improved Premier League form to the world's oldest knockout competition and faced second division team Forest on Sunday in the second big shock of the third round - the phase in which top clubs enter the draw beaten 1-0. It's only the second time in 26 seasons that Arsenal have fallen at the first hurdle. "We weren't good enough," said Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta, "and we have to apologize for that." Tottenham and Liverpool escaped the same fate as Arsenal and started comebacks after falling back against third division opponents at home. Tottenham beat Morecambe 3-1 and Liverpool won 4-1 against Shrewsbury. Conceding a goal in the 83rd minute to replace Lewis Grabban at the City Ground, Arsenal became the top-ranked victim of this year's FA Cup. Arsenal's performance was so clumsy that Arteta's side failed to score a shot on goal against Forest, a former European champion who has had tough times since the turn of the century and is ninth in the championship. "It's great to get through and I hope the players really believe in what we're doing now," said Forest manager Steve Cooper, who wants to lead the team back to the Premier League for the first time since playing at the top of the game 1999. It was in stark contrast to Arsenal's recent Premier League performances which helped propel the team into the Champions League. Arsenal outplayed leaders and defending champions Manchester City just last week before imploding after a red card in the second half. The FA Cup brought some surprises in the third round, no bigger than Newcastle's home defeat by third division Cambridge United on Saturday. After his side were down 1-0 in the 73rd minute, Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks sent a free kick from near the corner flag on the left wing and the ball flew over everyone into the top corner. Substitutes Lucas Moura and Harry Kane added more goals for Spurs in the final five minutes, denying Morecambe a fourth-round spot for the first time in their 101-year history. Liverpool started their comeback against Shrewsbury much earlier, leveling seven minutes after falling behind in the 27th minute. Kaide Gordon, one of five Academy players who kicked off a young Liverpool line-up, became the second youngest goalscorer in club history at 17 years and 96 days with a cool 1-1 goal before Fabinho hit a cheeky backheel on both sides. Goal from fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino, who was substituted on. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was back in the dugout after spending time in isolation after a positive test for coronavirus that emerged at the club during an outbreak that resulted in the training ground being closed for two days. West Ham won a matchup in the Premier League against Leeds 2-0, with the decisive opening goal - scored by Manuel Lanzini - disputed after a possible offside against Jarrod Bowen. Bowen added a second in stoppage time when Leeds pulled out in the third round for the ninth time in the last 12 seasons. Premier League teams Wolverhampton and Norwich also advanced after beating lower division Sheffield United (3-0) and Charlton (1-0) respectively. Many of the larger teams used the third round to give their marginalized members playing time, but two players in particular did not take their chance. Arsenal's left full-back Nuno Tavares suffered the shame of being substituted on after a poor performance against Forest in the 34th minute. Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, meanwhile, was noticeably slow as he strolled off the field with his head bowed after being substituted on while his side lost to Morecambe. "I was a player and sometimes it happened to me that someone was dissatisfied with my performance," said Tottenham coach Antonio Conte, downplaying the incident.

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PSG draw a late 1-1 draw in Lyon, second-placed Nice wins 3-0

PARIS (AP) - French championship leaders Paris Saint-Germain needed a late equalizer from ... (Author: Gardener)

LyonLyon players celebrate after Lyons Lucas Paqueta scored his team’s opening goal during the French League One soccer match between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain in Lyon, France, Sunday January 9, 2022. Thilo Kehrer of PSG, left, celebrates after scoring his opening goal during the French League One soccer match between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain in Lyon, France, Sunday January 9, 2022. Lyons Lucas Paqueta, right, celebrates after scoring his first goal Team during the French League One soccer match between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain in Lyon, France, Sunday January 9, 2022. PSG players celebrate after Thilo Kehrer of PSG, second from left, during the French League One soccer match between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain scored his team’s leading goal in Lyon, France, Sunday, January 9, 2022. PARIS (dpa) - The French championship leaders Paris Saint-Germain needed a late equalizer on Sunday from substitute Thilo Kehrer in order to win Scoring 1-1 draw in enthusiastic Lyon. Brazil midfielder Lucas Paqueta scored in the eighth minute as Lyon took control, but after Kylian Mbappe hit the post for PSG, Kehrer hit a chipped shot from the edge of the box in the 76th minute that ricocheted off goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. PSG are 11 points ahead of second-placed Nice and Marseille. But PSG have only won two of their last six games and needed the final equalizer against Lens and Lorient, who are going into winter break. PSG struggled to keep the slick and strong Paqueta in check in Paris in September when he opened the gate just for PSG to take advantage of a soft penalty and a goal to win the 2-1 win in the final seconds of stoppage time . Lyon started strong again and Houssem Aouar had just been close when Paqueta led a fine low drive from the right edge of the box to the first goal. Bruno Guimaraes opened PSG's weak defense with a great rolling pass from midfield into Paqueta's path and ended confidently - just like in Paris. Lopes then parried PSG defender Marquinhos's jack and Mbappe hit the post in return. However, PSG's declining midfield was easily bypassed in the 59th round when striker Moussa Dembele was clear, only goalkeeper Keylor Navas parried his low shot from the right. Mbappe slashed a shot in the 71st from the left as his teammates waited for a pass in the box and hit the crossbar in the 82nd. Previously, Nice overcame an early dismissal to score two more goals in the 3-0 win at Brest. After Denmark's striker Kasper Dolberg scored the goal in the 13th minute, Nice midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin saw the red card in the 20th minute. Nice held out the pressure before substitute striker Andy Delort scored in 79th goal from striker Amine Gouiri's fifth assist of a productive season. Gouiri scored his ninth goal with an effort deep in stoppage time. Nice are above third placed Marseille in goal difference, although Marseille have played one game less. The beautiful coach Christophe Galtier paired Gouiri with Dolberg in a 4-4-2 formation. Dolberg's goal was prepared by Justin Kluivert - the son of the prolific former Ajax, Barcelona and Netherlands striker Patrick Kluivert. Philippe Clement's first game against Monaco ended in a 0-0 draw in Nantes. Clement won three Belgian championship titles in a row, replacing Niko Kovac after being fired mid-season. Clement built a reputation for being an aggressive coach, but this was a frustrating game with few chances as Monaco defenders Djibril Sidibe and Benoît Badiashile hobbled off with hamstring injuries in the first half. Monaco are seventh and Nantes have dropped to ninth, behind Strasbourg, who won 2-0 at relegation-threatened Metz thanks to goals from striker Ludovic Ajorque and substitute Jean-Eudes Ahoulou. PSG had to do without Lionel Messi and several other players who had the virus. Messi is returning to individual training in the coming days after testing negative for the virus on Thursday.

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PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino will have to do without the Argentine star against Lyon

Argentinians returned to France after a positive COVID-19 test (Author: Gardener)

Mauricio PochettinoParis Saint-Germain will have to do without Lionel Messi and Neymar at Olympique Lyonnais in Ligue 1 on Sunday, although the Argentine is back in France and training after recently testing positive for COVID-19. The 34-year-old Messi should be in the running from next week when Neymar is back in Paris after a long period at home, but the Brazilian international is about three weeks away from a return to training. "The latest medical update has been released and that's all we can say," PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino said of Messi's status. "A date has been set for Neymar to return before he left and he remains on track to recover." Pochettino is likely to be understaffed in Lyon, with Angel Di Maria, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Danilo Pereira, Julian Draxler and Lyavin Kurzawa all being isolated after positive COVID tests, and Achraf Hakimi, Idrissa Gueye and Abdou Diallo all on duty for the Africa Cup of Nations . "All teams currently have missing players due to COVID, injuries and bans," said Pochettino. When asked about Mauro Icardi's fitness after some recent photos posted on social media suggested weight gain over the holidays, Pochettino dismissed the idea that his compatriot was out of shape. “Mauro is doing well, he trains well and is disciplined. Finally, Pochettino beat the money when asked if PSG's planned winter tour to Qatar later this month was appropriate in light of the recent wave of the COVID pandemic affecting travel around the world. "I'm not the right person." To answer, "answered Pochettino from the tour, on which the team would visit Doha in mid-January and play an exhibition game in Saudi Arabia.

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