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Neymar injury an opportunity for Julian Draxler at PSG

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler's career has long been trending upward, but he's struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar's injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he'd long been angling for, he'd become a regular in Paris Saint-Germain's version of the Galacticos, captained Germany to a Confederations Cup win and had the inside track toward a starting spot in Germany's World Cup defense in Russia. But then, at the beginning of August, the French club broke the world transfer record to sign a Brazilian from Barcelona who played in his position. Since Neymar arrived at the Parc des Princes, there's been little doubt that he's the star of the show, with 29 goals in 29 games to go along with the headline-grabbing birthday parties and public rows over penalty duties. But his arrival has been less than positive for Draxler, who has completed 90 minutes just six times for his club this season, with only a handful of cameo appearances in his favored position on the left wing. Frustrations evident After PSG's 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 — in which Draxler played just nine minutes — the 24-year-old let his frustrations slip to German broadcaster ZDF. “In the Bernabeu, you don’t want to watch 84 minutes from the bench but, with our squad, you don’t always get the choice,” he said. The extent of Neymar's metatarsal fracture, which he suffered in PSG's 3-0 win over Marseille on Sunday, is unclear at this stage, but it appears he'll be out for at least a month. This means he is almost certain to miss the return leg on March 6, despite PSG coach Unai Emery's suggestion there's a "small chance" he'll be ready. Draxler would surely revel in another game against a team he dismantled while playing for Wolfsburg in 2016 . However, his place is not totally assured, with Argentinians Angel di Maria or Javier Pastore among the alternatives for the Parisian club. A chance to make his mark Despite the competition, Emery, who has often tried to shoehorn the German in to a central midfield since Neymar's arrival, spoke highly of Draxler in December as rumors swirled about a switch to the Premier League. "He's in a constant evolution and he still has a lot of energy. At PSG, Draxler is in very good hands, he's a great contributor to our game, he's learning a lot," Emery said. "I talk to him a lot and I'm very demanding with him and he's one of those very ambitious players and he shows that with good performances, also for the national team, and he's a very important player for us." As Emery suggested, Draxler is a key man for Joachim Löw and his name is surely inked in to Germany's 23-man squad for Russia 2018. But, with Leroy Sané impressing for Manchester City, Julian Brandt showing flickers of form at Bayer Leverkusen and Marco Reus impressing in his latest comeback at Borussia Dortmund, Draxler needs regular playing time to find the form and fitness that would secure him a starting spot. With another crunch game against Marseille in the French Cup on Wednesday before the Madrid game and prestige international friendlies against Spain and Brazil at the end of March, Neymar's absence could offer an opportunity for PSG's half-forgotten man to restate his case.

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler’s career has long been trending upward, but he’s struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar’s injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he’d long been angling for, he’d become a ... Read More »

Neymar unveiled as football’s most expensive player, denies it’s about the money

Paris Saint-Germain have unveiled the most-expensive signing in football history. Brazilian star Neymar described the decision to leave Barcelona for PSG as the most difficult one of his life. Neymar, who officially joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for 222 million euros ($264 million) on Thursday, repeatedly told reporters at a Friday press conference that he decided to leave Barcelona for footballing reasons. "I wanted a new challenge. I wanted something bigger. To do my best. And to do even better," he said. He added that he hoped to further develop as a player at his new club. Although his wages are reportedly set to triple to 30 million euros a year after tax, the 25-year-old was also quick to insist that the move had nothing to do with the money. 'Not about the money' "I was never motivated by money," Neymar said. "What I think about is happiness. If I was following the money I would maybe be in some other country." The club's chairman, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who described Neymar as "the best player in the world," also insisted that the striker could have made much more money at another club and that he had made the decision for "sporting reasons." Al-Khelaifi also confirmed that a buyout clause was included in Neymar's contract, but he declined to put a figure on it. The 222 million euros that PSG spent on him was used to trigger his previous contract at Barcelona. Financial fair play Asked about how PSG intended to ensure that it complies with UEFA's financial fair play rules, the chairman replied: "What we have done is completely transparent and legal... Whatever the media says, we honestly don't care." However, he did say it was a good bit of business for the club, despite the record fee, because Neymar's value would "at least double inside two years." Leaving Barca 'the most difficult decision' For his part, Neymar also took great pains to insist that he had left Barcelona, where he won the Champions League in 2015 and collected two Spanish league titles and three Copas del Rey in four seasons, on good terms. He described the decision to move on as "the most difficult decision" that he had ever made, and he praised Barca as a special club with wonderful teammates who will remain his friends. He also admitted that some of his former teammates had tried hard to convince him to stay. Ready for action At the same time though, he stressed that he was keen to get down to work on his new challenge in the French capital. "I can play tomorrow (against Amiens). Why not? I'll speak to the staff, but I really want to play. I haven't discussed where I will play. I will play where the coach wants me to," he replied when asked how soon the PSG fans could expect to see him in the squad. "I only stopped training in the last two days and I'm hungry to play football." If the queue outside of the Parc des Princes is any indication, the supporters can't wait to see him in the number 10 jersey that was already on sale when the club's fan shop opened for business this Friday.

Paris Saint-Germain have unveiled the most-expensive signing in football history. Brazilian star Neymar described the decision to leave Barcelona for PSG as the most difficult one of his life. Neymar, who officially joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for 222 million euros ($264 million) on Thursday, repeatedly told reporters at a Friday press conference that he decided to leave Barcelona for footballing ... Read More »

Late strike fires FFC Frankfurt to record fourth Champions League

The ladies of FFC Frankfurt secured another European crown for the trophy-laden German club. But the Berlin crowd had to wait until almost the last kick to celebrate glory. FFC Frankfurt 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain (Sasic 32', Islacker 90+1' - Delie 40') Germany's domination of the Women's Champions League continued after Mandy Islacker's stoppage time winner secured the country's third triumph on the spin. VfL Wolfsburg has won the last two European trophies, whilst FFC Frankfurt went down in the final against French opposition in 2012 and has now secured its fourth Champions League crown - the best record of any club. Goal-getter Celia Sasic sent Colin Bell's men on their way to Germany's ninth tournament victory, yet they were pegged back by Marie-Laure Delie at the break. But Islacker's late volley turns Frankfurt's season into a success despite missing out on the treble with Bayern Munich taking the league title and the Wolves winning the German Cup. Frankfurt eager from the start Frankfurt, winners in 2002, 2006 and 2008, was the favorite of the crowd in the German capital of Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel joining UEFA President Michel Platini. Colin Bell's side pressed high up the pitch with the excellent Dzsenifer Marozsan combining with top scorer Sasic. The first half-chance fell to the feet of Swiss midfielder Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, whose control let her down with the ball rolling across the 18-yard-line. Bonn-born Sasic was the main threat, though, and a glancing header went past the post on 22 minutes. Meanwhile, attacking-midfielder Marozsan was beginning to threaten with her runs out into the flanks and her cross in the 29th minute to Simone Laudehr should have been converted. But three minutes later, Sasic earned the breakthrough for the Germans who were on top. Kerstin Garefrekes struck off an opponent and with the ball spinning fortuitously in the air the striker netted her 14th goal of this season's Women's Champions League. The Parisians appeared subdued despite their high-scoring feats in previous rounds. Kenza Dali's shot on 39 minutes from the best part of 40 yards looked more like a sign of desperation for the French club. Consequently, the resulting corner kick from Dali was turned home by Delie whose potency in front of goal has been key to PSG's Champions League campaign. Dramatic tale While the second-half was a more balanced contest, the German side carved out the clearer opportunities. Sasic threatened on 48 minutes before the following effort from Spaniard Veronica Boquete was booted off the line by German-born defender Annike Krahn. Twenty minutes later, in the 68th minute, former Espanyol player Boquete failed to direct her long-range effort at goal on target as the ball sailed over the woodwork. But in the closing minutes, Bell's side took the title when the ball broke kindly to second-half sub Islacker who directed the ball high and into the net and send their players into raptures on home soil.

The ladies of FFC Frankfurt secured another European crown for the trophy-laden German club. But the Berlin crowd had to wait until almost the last kick to celebrate glory. FFC Frankfurt 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain (Sasic 32′, Islacker 90+1′ – Delie 40′) Germany’s domination of the Women’s Champions League continued after Mandy Islacker’s stoppage time winner secured the country’s third triumph ... Read More »

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