‘No Neymar, no problem’ insists PSG star Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe and Neymar have formed a deadly duo for the Paris club. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2019

‘No Neymar, no problem’ insists PSG star Kylian Mbappe

LONDON: Paris Saint-Germain do not need Neymar to get their hands on silverware and achieve success. 

That is the message from young gun Kylian Mbappe who fired the capital club to the verge of the Champions League quarterfinals as PSG beat Manchester United 2-0 on Tuesday. 

Heading into the clash the pressure was all on the French club. They lost their Ligue 1 unbeaten record the week before to Lyon and on top of being without their Brazilian talisman Neymar, they also took the field without their all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani, who injured his hip during the side’s 1-0 win over Bordeaux on Saturday. 

By contrast, the hosts went into the clash on a high — unbeaten under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with momentum on their side. The match, however, played out very differently to what most fans expected. 

PSG played with nous, patience and flair, scoring two unanswered goals in the second half — Mbappe with the winner after Presnel Kimpembe’s 53rd-minute opener. In truth, if it was not for David de Gea’s usual brilliance in goal for United, the scoreline could have been much better and the tie put to bed before the return leg in three weeks’ time. 

The clash offered up proof that PSG are finally maturing on the biggest stage of all and that they do not need all their stars to shine, according to the brilliant Mbappe. 

“We need to stop with the scare stories. People need to stop being afraid. Of course Neymar is hugely important and Cavani is fundamental to us, but football is played on the pitch and we showed that today,” Mbappe said.

In the absence of the dynamic duo PSG, for once, looked more than the sum of their considerable parts. Even without Neymar and Cavani the side can still boast an attacking array of talents that would be the envy of most sides. Mbappe showed why he has the world at his feet aged just 20 and Angel di Maria again illustrated the kind of drive so lacking when he played at Old Trafford four years ago. But it was the overall team performance from 1-11 that impressed and they succeeded in inflicting a first defeat on United since the appointment of Solskjaer as their interim manager.

“In the second half we came out with the best intentions because we knew they wanted to step up the rhythm and especially get a goal at home,” added Mbappe, whose goal was his 23rd of the season in all competitions.

“We are happy, but it’s only half-time in the tie and we need to continue preparing well, because I think in the last 20 minutes we dropped off a bit physically.

“We have three weeks now to make sure we are ready for the return and ensure we qualify.”

PSG boss Thomas Tuchel has warned his side against complacency, saying: “We deserved to win, and to do so here at Old Trafford just now, I congratulate my team — but it’s only half-time and we still have to play at the Parc des Princes.”

For his opposite number the result was a reality check but Solskjaer said United would not lie down when they go to the Parc des Princes. 

“There is a determination in the dressing room to put this right,” the United boss, currently favorite to get the job full time, said.

“We will give it a go. If we get to half-time with a one-goal lead, that is what we have to aim for.”


Tyson Fury’s promoter says Saudi Arabia could host ‘Battle of the Brits’ Anthony Joshua heavyweight clash

Updated 47 min 2 sec ago

Tyson Fury’s promoter says Saudi Arabia could host ‘Battle of the Brits’ Anthony Joshua heavyweight clash

  • Frank Warren says the fighters will go where the money is
  • Anthony Joshua's promoter says 'huge site offer in place' for fight with Fury in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: World heavyweight champions Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua could fight in Saudi Arabia, Fury’s promoter said Sunday, after his boxer destroyed Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas.

Speculation is rife over who Fury will face next after the “Gypsy King” twice knocked down Wilder to seal an emphatic victory. Most pundits are hoping for a “Battle of the Brits” with Tyson and Joshua currently holding all four heavyweight belts between them.

Joshua fought Andy Ruiz Jr in Diriyah near Riyadh in December and his team said previously there is an offer to fight the winner of the Fury, Wilder fight in the Kingdom.

 

 

Fury was also inside a ring in Saudi Arabia in October when he took part in WWE’s Crown Jewel event in Riyadh. 

Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter, refused to rule out Saudi Arabia as a venue for the “Battle of the Brits.”

“In a dreamscape it should be in London but they’re professional athletes,” Warren said. “These guys have short careers, they go where the money is.

Anthony Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia in December. (AFP/File photo)

“It’s the boxers who get in the ring and they’ll make the choices.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said last month that they have a “huge site offer in place” for the fight to take place in Saudi Arabia. 

Describing it as a “big option,” Hearn said: “We have a partnership out there in Saudi Arabia.

“They put the money up for the Andy Ruiz fight. Everything they promised, they delivered.

“They want this fight bad and when they've got that kind of attitude and mentality, it's going to be difficult to beat.”

Several hurdles remain in place for Fury to face Joshua.

Wilder, who held his title for five years, has 30 days to invoke a rematch clause against Fury. 

Joshua is scheduled to fight Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London in June, but Hearn has suggested that match could be canceled to make way for a clash with Fury.

Another obstacle would be how to split the prize money. Warren suggested a 50-50 split would be generous to Joshua after the scale of Fury’s win in Las Vegas.

“In my time I’ve been involved with some big fights and some big fighters,” Warren said. “This is without doubt the best performance by a British fighter - not abroad, but ever.”

Joshua’s fight against Ruiz was the biggest boxing event held in Saudi Arabia and part of a drive to make the Kingdom a venue for the world’s biggest sporting events.

The fight took place on a rainy night at the purpose built 15,000 seat Diriyah Arena.

Joshua beat Ruiz with a unanimous points decision from the judges, reclaiming his world heavyweight belts.