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03/11/2014
 

Paris Saint-Germain midfielders Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti joined defender Gregory Van der Wiel on the club's absentee list ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash against Bayer Levekusen, coach Laurent Blanc confirmed.


"In addition to Van der Wiel, Verratti and Matuidi won't play either," Blanc told a press conference at the Parc des Princes ahead of Wednesday's tie. 


Van der Wiel had earlier been ruled out of the clash because of a knee injury. Verratti suffered a knock in training while Matuidi will be preserved in order to avoid a booking which would rule him out of the first leg of the quarter-finals.


"Despite the absentees our team will remain very competitive. I'm not in the slightest bit worried," said Blanc, who should give starts to Yohan Cabaye and Adrien Rabiot or Javier Pastore in midfield beside Thiago Motta. "Van der Wiel will be absent this week to undergo treatment in Munich ... for chronic pain in his right knee," PSG said earlier in a statement.


The Dutch player is also expected to be absent for Sunday's Ligue 1 clash with Saint-Etienne. Christophe Jallet, who returned last week following a back injury, should replace Van der Wiel against Leverkusen, with PSG holding a 4-0 lead from the first leg of the last-16 tie.


ALSO SEE:


PSG Can't Afford to Lose Focus Against Bayer Leverkusen


Barcelona Desperately Needs Good Performance Against Man City


Barca's Mascherano Warns About Aguero Threat


More Champions League News

 
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02/04/2014
 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck early and late on Tuesday to keep Paris Saint-Germain on course for a domestic double as the Ligue 1 leaders edged past Nantes 2-1 to reach the final of the League Cup. Ibrahimovic struck his first goal in this season's competition to put PSG ahead after just five minutes at the Stade de la Beaujoire.


Olivier Veigneau responded with an equalizer nine minutes from the end but Ibrahimovic popped up with his second of the match, and 31st of the season, in the final minute to send the three-time winners through to April's final at the Stade de France.


"It was a real cup tie, the script is often like that," said PSG coach Laurent Blanc afterwards.


"In the first (period) we led 1-0. We had chances to double our lead but didn't. In the second half Nantes applied more pressure, were more involved, created some chances and equalised. But in the last 10 minutes my team stepped up a gear.


"We're in the final, that's what we were looking for and we've done it."


With PSG already eliminated from the French Cup, Blanc fielded a strong side that featured just three changes from the team that beat Bordeaux 2-0 on Friday evening.


Ezequiel Lavezzi was drafted in to replace the injured Edinson Cavani on the left of an attacking three, while Marco Verratti, back from suspension, was restored to his midfield duties at the expense of Javier Pastore.


Reserve goalkeeper and cup-specialist Nicolas Douchez came in for Salvatore Sirigu, but new recruit Yohan Cabaye was again only listed among the substitutes. 


Having swept the two league encounters this season, including a 5-0 demolition at the Parc des Princes just over a fortnight ago, PSG almost struck first blood just four minutes in as Lavezzi hit the outside of the post following Blaise Matuidi's burst into the box.


Heavy rain made for a slick playing surface at La Beaujoire and it played a factor just moments after that initial reprieve as a poor clearance from Nantes keeper Remy Riou gifted Ibrahimovic the opening goal.


Riou appeared to slip as he went to launch Issa Cissokho's back-pass upfield, succeeding only in sending the ball straight to Ibrahimovic with the Swede firing a first-time left-foot effort from 30 yards over the head of the unfortunate Nantes keeper.


Thiago Silva nearly added a second for the visitors inside the opening 15 minutes but Riou managed to divert the Brazilian's fierce drive from a narrow angle away to safety.

Lavezzi then found himself in behind the Nantes backline but was thwarted by the legs of Riou on the half hour.


The hosts almost drew level from their first genuine opportunity as Papy Djilobodji rose to meet Vincent Bessat's corner only for a perfectly placed Verratti to clear off the line with referee Laurent Duhamel waving away protests for a handball.


A fractious second half produced little in the way of goalmouth action until Veigneau netted an 81st-minute equaliser for Nantes as he slammed home substitute Georges-Kevin Nkoudou's cross.


But with extra time beckoning the hosts were undone as Ibrahimovic escaped the attentions of Oswaldo Vizcarrondo to head in Lucas' cross from the right on 90 minutes and punch PSG's ticket to the Stade de France.


Awaiting PSG in the final will be the winners of Wednesday's tie at the Stade de Gerland between Lyon and Ligue 2 outfit Troyes.

 
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06/18/2013
 

A hat-trick by inspirational captain Thiago Alcantara saw Spain easily retain their European Under-21 title in Jerusalem on Tuesday with a 4-2 win over Italy. Barcelona star Thiago, who was born in Italy where his Brazilian father Mazinho was playing for Lecce, doubled his total haul for the side with all his goals coming in the first-half.


Isco added a fourth in the second-half while Italy's goals came from Ciro Immobile and Liverpool's Fabio Borini as they at least improved on the senior side's 4-0 defeat by Spain in last year's senior Euro final. Spain, who have the upper hand in Under-21 finals with Italy - leading 2-1 after this victory that handed them a fourth title - took less than seven minutes to open the scoring with a nicely worked goal.


Isco, a target for Manchester City and Real Madrid, played a neat exchange of passes with Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata. Morata, scorer of three goals already in the tournament, got to the byline on the left side of the box and put in the perfect cross as Thiago rose unmarked to head home. However, the Italians drew level three minutes later as a Matteo Bianchetti long ball from inside his own half found Immobile, who controlled the ball beautifully before lifting it over David de Gea.


Morata's extra pace exposed the Italian defence in the 16th minute but his low shot was blocked by the Italian goalkeeper Francesco Bardi.


De Gea too had to be at his most alert when Alessandro Florenzi was found by Borini, but the Manchester United guardian did brilliantly to bat away the Italian's shot.


Both sides traded possession after that until some more woeful Italian defending allowed Thiago to score his second.


Italian captain Luca Caldirola was once again the principal offender as he allowed the ball into the box go over him and there was Thiago, who brought the ball down before unleashing his shot which went in between the goalkeeper's legs.


Things got worse for the Italians in the 38th minute as Cristian Tello was brought down by Giulio Donati and Thiago stepped up to slot home the penalty for his first hat-trick for the Under-21 side.


Bardi kept the scoreline respectable for most of the second-half with saves from Thiago and Isco but the rampant Spaniards grabbed a fourth in the 66th minute. Another rash tackle in the penalty area by Vasco Regini on Martin Montoya saw a penalty awarded and this time Thiago stepped aside to allow Isco to take it, and he put it away with aplomb.


The Italians, though, kept plugging away and Borini scored a cracking goal with 10 minutes remaining, the Liverpool player firing home from just outside the box.

 
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