WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
PSG bare their teeth
PSG - having flagged badly in their opening Champions League fixture against Club Brugge - were better against Manchester's City. They won 2-0, with goals from Idrissa Gueye and Lionel Messi.
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It was far from perfect, with Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe not exactly receptive to the defensive demands required at the upper echelons of the game.
Logic dictates that winning elite-level competitions like the Champions League requires a commitment from all 11 players to buy in to a team structure. That can either entail - but is not restricted to - pressing high or sitting deep. PSG's front three - on Tuesday's showing - do not entertain such concepts. They played with little structure ahead of their midfield, their front three offered very little on the defensive side of the ball and it looked to this observer's eye that they were freewheeling.
It worked though. They won. Will that freewheeling and lack of structure bring problems? Probably, as the Brugge game proved. However, what the City win did show is that there is - to state the obvious - enough talent there, even when playing against the best teams in the world, to paper over the lack of structure.
Yet, on the balance of probabilities, teams with slightly less individual talent but a defined structure underpinning that talent - say Man City or Bayern Munich - would over a two-legged affair get the better of a structure-less yet talent-heavy side. The match against City offered up evidence that PSG's freewheeling can work, but, ultimately, it is a huge risk and not one a club of PSG's resource should be taking.
However, questionable recruitment dictates that it is a risk they will more than likely spend the year taking. For the avoidance of doubt, signing Neymar AND Mbappe AND Messi represents hugely questionable recruitment - an elite side can perhaps accommodate one defensive passenger, PSG have three.
- Messi opens PSG account in style as City are seen off
- Guardiola: We controlled PSG but just couldn’t score
- Opinion: PSG are far from perfect, but they have Messi
Sheriff shove Perez's comments down his gullet
Florentino Perez thinks the Champions League - due to a perception of diluted competition in the early rounds - only becomes interesting at the quarter-finals.
Here is his quote:
The Champions League format is old and only interesting from the quarter-finals onwards.
Well, Florentino, The Warm-Up would like to cordially disagree with this hypothesis and to back its counter-claim, would like to present exhibit A: Real Madrid getting turned over by Sheriff Tiraspol at the newly-redeveloped Bernabeu.
It was a great result for fans of narratives, but it was also a great result for fans of great performances. Sheriff played well and Sebastien Thill of Luxembourg scored the winner with 89 minutes on the clock with a strike as clean as you are ever likely to see.
The result puts the Moldovan outfit on six points from two games and in what looks like a strong position to qualify for the last 16.
Give it to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona
CONMEBOL have announced that the Copa America winners, Argentina, will face Euro winners, Italy, in an exhibition match.
"CONMEBOL and UEFA have announced today the expansion of their current cooperation, as well as the organization of a match between the winner of CONMEBOL Copa America 2021, Argentina, and the winner of Euro 2020, Italy, during the international window in June of 2022 in a venue to be confirmed, " said a statement.
Venue to be confirmed you say? The national team of Diego Maradona playing the nation where he produced his greatest body of work in an exhibition match? There is surely only one venue for such a match: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Make it happen.
IN THE CHANNELS
Tottenham are, to coin a phrase, having one. They have been atrocious during their last three league games. To be generous, perhaps not having two of *potentially* their most important players in Giovanni Lo Celso and Cristian Romero available for some of that run was a contributing factor. Maybe not. If it was, then buckle up Spurs fans as the pair have been called up for international duty. Again.
Here is the tweet from the official account:
And, for reference, here is the tweet announcing European call-ups:
And they say you can’t read tone on social media. That fist emoji says it all...
Thought that Sheriff giving Madrid the once over was a thoroughly feel-good story? Think again, it is a little bit more complex than that.
Here is a snippet from Nick Ames' profile of the club over at the Guardian.
Given the inwards focus here, many in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, wonder when they will reap any benefits from Sheriff’s achievement. They have practically killed football in Moldova, says Octavian Ticu, a former Moldovan sports minister and leader of its pro-Romanian Party of National Unity. Sitting in his office Ticu recalls how Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly, believed to have both been KGB officers, constructed the club as an arm of the company, Sheriff, that they founded after the collapse of the USSR. They used football as a weapon of their business, he says. Then they became stronger and stronger, and it isn’t a fair competition. Every Moldovan club pays taxes here from salaries, transfers and international participation. But FC Sheriff never paid one single [Moldovan] leu to our budget. They are Moldovan only in name; there is effectively no attachment.
Another five Champions League matches will be given the live minute-by-minute treatment on Eurosport, with the pick of the bunch being Manchester United against Villarreal (20:00 BST).
Andi Thomas, who believes The Warm-Up only becomes interesting after Wednesday, will be here delivering the verdict on that.
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