European football’s governing body confirmed in a statement on Thursday that an “Ethics and Disciplinary inspector” will assess the behaviour of the French and Serbian giants’ fans before any action is taken over the “reported incidents.”
Despite the closure of the Auteuil stand, where PSG’s ultras gather, as well as a ban on travelling fans from Serbia, an increased security presence could not prevent fighting outside the ground after the match.
UEFA opened its disciplinary proceedings against the two clubs, with both charged — PSG over fireworks being set off and Red Star for offensive chanting.
For the moment, PSG have been hit with a €20,000 fine because of the fixture’s late kickoff and coach Thomas Tuchel has also received an official warning after he contributed towards the delay.
UEFA’s investigation into the reported incidents surrounding the encounter in the French capital is unrelated to another one, this time led by France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office (PNF), which is examining potential match-fixing within the Red Star hierarchy.
L’Equipe reported last Friday that the Serbian official in question is suspected of betting €5 million, via accomplices, on Red Star to lose by five goals, while UEFA’s ethics and disciplinary angle concerns the use of “fireworks, crowd disturbances, late kick-off and improper conduct of officials” on PSG’s part and “illicit chanting and crowd disturbances” on Red Star’s.
UEFA did not rule out potential future punishment for either of the clubs, so the appointed inspector can and probably will hand down further sanctions.
However, for the moment, Les Parisiens‘ two remaining Champions League Group C games at Parc des Princes will go ahead as normal after the closure of the Auteuil end for the visit of Red Star as punishment for bad crowd behaviour during last season’s round-of-16 defeat to Real Madrid.
In any case, PSG have started to take matters into their own hands by banning season ticket holders who have been identified as part of the issues that marred the Red Star win.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti said he and his teammates did not notice anything unusual during the Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade earlier this month that is now under investigation for potential match-fixing.
L’Equipe reported that a Red Star official was suspected of betting €5 million, via accomplices, on the team to lose by five goals, resulting in France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office (PNF) opening an investigation.
“We did not feel anything,” Verratti, representing Italy, told reporters after the 1-0 win over Poland in the Nations League on Sunday. “I do not think that is true.
“We put in a great performance and it is not the first time that we have won by five goals. Last year, we won by five goals on many occasions. These are somebody else’s problems — we are not interested in them.”
“There has been no contact with the PNF, who lead the investigation,” Ribes said. “Anybody implying that this supposed meeting [between PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi and the Red Star leader in question] should or could have gone ahead is open to prosecution.
“It goes without saying that that if there is a case and PSG are one of the victims, then we will press charges.”
Red Star rejected “any possibility that any members were involved in such a dishonourable act” and are considering legal action against L’Equipe for publishing the report.
“We have hired a lawyer in France who is looking into potential legal action against L’Equipe for attacking the honour of the club,” Red Star said in a statement. “Red Star will continue to seek the truth and that the manipulators and informants responsible for this shameful act are brought to justice.”
The French football league (LFP) expressed support for the PNF and UEFA in their investigations and attempted to distance PSG from the claims, and the syndicate of top French clubs, known as the Premiere Ligue, took offence to associations with match-fixing.
“There is no suspicion — we all know the club’s ethical and moral values, which are shared by all of its leaders, players and employees,” the Premiere Ligue said in a statement. “Ill-intentioned minds are seeking to tarnish PSG’s reputation through a case completely unconnected that actually discredits French football as a whole.”
French authorities are investigating claims that a Red Star Belgrade official tried to fix the Serbian giants’ 6-1 Champions League Group C loss away at Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.
UEFA warned France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office (PNF) of a possible manipulation of the result and according to L’Equipe, the official in question is suspected of betting €5 million via accomplices on Red Star to lose by five goals.
PNF told The Associated Press on Friday that an investigation has been opened but declined to comment further.
L’Equipe’s report states that UEFA alerted PNF days before the two teams met at Parc des Princes on Oct. 3.
It also alleges that some Red Star players were talked into getting involved on the eve of the game, while the alleged corrupt Red Star official had a meeting with PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi scheduled that eventually did not take place.
“It was with the greatest stupefaction that PSG discovered this Friday an article on the L’Equipe website regarding suspicions of match-fixing concerning the UEFA Champions League game with Red Star Belgrade on 3 October and suspicions regarding the alleged actions of bettors from Serbia,” PSG said in a statement responding to the report.
“The club categorically rejects any and all direct and indirect implication in relation to these suspicions and would like to point out at no moment has PSG been approached by the National Financial Court in charge of the investigation.
“PSG remains at the disposal of the investigators and will not tolerate the slightest attack on its reputation nor that of its officials.
“To that end, the club reserves the right to take legal action against any party that makes defamatory statements against the club and/or its officials.
“The club reaffirms its profound attachment to the fundamental principle of sport, which is and always will be the integrity of its competitions.”
Red Star, meanwhile, reacted to L’Equipe’s report with “the highest amount of anger and disgust.”
“The statements in this article seriously undermine our image and the club’s reputation,” the Serbian champions are quoted as saying. “Current technology is so advanced that it is simply impossible that such a case cannot be resolved.
“The truth about this case will be established as soon as possible to ease suspicion about the involvement of one of our leaders in such dishonest activity.”
Contacted for comment by L’Equipe, honorary Red Star president Dragan Dzajic said: “This is the first that I have heard of it,” and that he knows “absolutely nothing about this — it is not possible, it is untrue!”
Red Star’s deputy spokesman Nebojsa Todorovic informed Agence France Presse that he “cannot, in any way, comment on this,” while the spokesman for Serbia’s football association, Milan Vukovic, was unavailable.
The French Regulatory Authority for Online Games (ARJEL), the body responsible for regulating online gambling in France, told L’Equipe that no suspicious bets were made on the game.
“No anomalies were detected on the French betting market,” said ARJEL. “Nor in the partner countries of the Copenhagen Group [22 major European countries], nor via the Global Lottery Monitoring System [GLMS].”
Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa faces at least two weeks out with a hamstring injury sustained during the 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“Diego Costa, who was substituted in the 69th minute against [Club Brugge], underwent a scan on Friday to find out the extent of the injury,” said a statement from Atletico.
“The report given by the club’s medical service says he has suffered an injury in his left hamstring. His time out will be determined by how the injury evolves.”
Costa has been ruled out of Sunday’s La Liga game against Real Betis and was left out of Luis Enrique’s Spain squad on Thursday for the games against Wales and England.
Atletico did not say when Costa would return but a hamstring problem typically takes two weeks to recover from, meaning he may be fit to face Villarreal in La Liga on Oct. 20.
Costa, who suffered a hamstring injury in the 2014 Champions League final in his first spell at Atletico, asked to come off on Wednesday just after providing the pass from which Antoine Griezmann scored the second goal to restore their lead.
The striker has three goals in 10 games in all competitions this season although he has yet to score in La Liga.
Atletico will look to either Angel Correa or Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic to partner France forward Griezmann up front.
After the final whistle had sounded in the 1-1 draw against Ajax, Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac appeared no less stunned than the Allianz Arena crowd about his team’s puzzlingly poor showing.
“I need to first let that sink in and gather my thoughts,” Kovac pleaded with TV reporters, making no secret of his struggle to come to terms with the deeply disconcerting concoction of failure he had just witnessed.
Bar the determined, muscular opening 15 minutes of the game, his team had been so sloppy in possession, disorganised in transition and passive in defence that Ajax could count themselves unlucky to come away with only a draw.
“The bottom line is: this was a point won for us,” Kovac stated with brutal honesty once he had collected himself. And his Bayern players were just as self-critical about their many shortcomings. Joshua Kimmich cited the “bad possession game;” Arjen Robben bemoaned his team “always being late” in comparison with their young opponents.
“We’re making a lot of mistakes, don’t keep the ball well enough and can’t counter-press as a result,” Thomas Muller added. “It was up and down; Ajax exuded fun on the ball. We want more control.”
The symptoms of Bayern’s malaise were easily identifiable. Finding an actual explanation for their dramatic loss of form over the course of seven days proves a much harder task, however.
While disappointments in the league — a 1-1 draw with Augsburg; a 2-0 defeat at Hertha Berlin — had been waved away, blamed on minor digressions such as too much rotation and a bit of carelessness in front of goal, nothing had prepared Bayern for the total breakdown of their game they suffered on Tuesday night.
“Nobody could expect that after our start with seven [victorious] games in row,” Kovac said.
In those opening weeks of the season, player after player had come out to praise the new man in charge for his attention to detail and demanding regime, crediting him for a marked upswing in performances that were in parts reminiscent of the Pep Guardiola heyday.
Bayern’s big preseason decisions — the appointment of Kovac and holding off on overhauling the attacking section of squad for another year — appeared thoroughly vindicated. Tuesday night, however, painfully reminded the grimacing club bosses in the VIP seats why there had been so much anxiety about their course of action in Munich ahead of this campaign.
The Ajax game showed their deepest fears come true. It exposed both the manager’s inexperience and the staleness of a team packed with a few too many veterans.
Kovac’s ill-conceived central set-up, with a miscast Muller and the strangely out-of-sorts Javi Martinez next to Thiago, enabled Ajax to channel the Germans’ build-up play to the flanks. That was where the visitors were at their most dynamic and effective, and the hosts, conversely, cumbersome and blunt.
At times, Bayern’s openness, lack of pace in the final third and constantly interrupted ball circulation echoed Germany’s problems against Mexico at the World Cup; it took Kovac over an hour to introduce much-needed stability in possession with the introduction of James Rodriguez.
The Croatian manager remains convinced that a return “back to basics” in the shape of more focus and better application will bring about an immediate improvement against Borussia Monchengladbach at the weekend, but the fact that Muller admitted the team’s psyche was affected by three games without a win suggests that anxiety might have infected the dressing room as well.
As much as the draw against Ajax doesn’t really hurt Bayern’s chances in the Champions League given Benfica and AEK Athens are in the same group, something more important than two taken-for-granted points was momentarily lost on Tuesday: the club’s peace of mind.
Sabener Strasse, prone to restlessness at the best of times, is no longer certain that everything will be fine with the current set-up in place.
NAPLES, Italy — A group of Liverpool fans have been attacked in the centre of Naples ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League game against Napoli.
Merseyside Police confirmed to ESPN FC that a male was taken to hospital as a result, but was released having only suffered minor injuries.
Liverpool are in Naples for the first time since 2010, when three away supporters were treated for knife wounds and four others also suffered injuries.
“We are aware of an incident involving a small group of Liverpool fans and a small group of males on mopeds last night, Tuesday, October 2,” a Merseyside Police spokesman told ESPN FC. “A male in his 20s was taken to hospital to be treated for minor cuts and bruises and released a short time later. Enquiries are ongoing.”
Antoine Griezmann had a goal in each half — including the 8,000th Champions League goal — and Koke also scored in added time to lead Atletico Madrid to a 3-1 win over Club Brugge on Wednesday.
Griezmann opened the scoring in the first half and scored another goal midway through the second after Club Brugge equalised with a long-range shot by Arnaut Danjuma just before half-time.
Atletico was struggling to break through the Brugge defence when Griezmann scored the decisive goal with a shot from inside the area after a pass by Diego Costa, who had to be immediately substituted with an apparent muscle injury.
It was an important victory for Atletico, who faltered against the team considered the weakest in its group last season. It was held to a pair of draws by Qarabag — results that led to the team’s elimination in the group stage.
The victory also extended Atletico’s unbeaten streak in all competitions to six games.
Brugge, back in the Champions League group stage after a one-year absence, were trying to halt a seven-game losing streak in group games in the competition.
It had been difficult for Atletico in the first half against Brugge until Griezmann opened the scoring in the 28th minute. He controlled the ball with his chest after a cross toward the far post and calmly sent a low side-footed shot into the opposite corner, scoring his first Champions League goal of the season.
The second, coming from inside the area in the 67th, was the 8,000th since the competition began in a new format in 1992.
Brugge equalised through Danjuma, whose booming shot from a difficult angle on the left flank went into the far corner past Atletico keeper Jan Oblak. The goal stunned the Madrid crowd and ignited the very loud Brugge fans who made the trip.
It was only the second goal conceded at home by Atletico this season.
Simeone started with three men at the back, but added Filipe Luis as a left-back in the second half to revert to a four-man defense. The move allowed Atletico to press forward more easily and create more scoring chances.
Griezmann nearly scored a third, but had his 20th-minute goal disallowed for offside.
Bayern Munich's Niko Kovac has defended his squad rotation in what is a busy fixture list and insists he has spoken to the players on the situation to which they've agreed to be rested.
After Bayern Munich conceded late to draw 1-1 at home to Augsburg, head coach Niko Kovac says that squad rotation is necessary when there are so many games in the season.
Bayern Munich must bounce back from Friday's Bundesliga defeat to Hertha Berlin by starting a new winning run against Ajax in the Champions League, Arjen Robben has said.
The 2-0 defeat at Hertha came three days after Augsburg had held Bayern to a draw at the Allianz Arena, ending their run of seven straight wins in all competitions.
And Robben urged his teammates to put those setbacks behind them at home to the Dutch side.
"Augsburg and Hertha were efficient. We had enough chances but were not…
LIVERPOOL, England — Simon Mignolet has said he knows his opportunities this season could be further restricted after Liverpool went out of the Carabao Cup to Chelsea.
First-choice keeper Alisson was given the night off on Wednesday as Mignolet started his first game since January in the 2-1 defeat to the Blues at Anfield.
The Belgium international had wanted to leave Liverpool in the summer in search of first-team football, but the club would not sanction his departure after Loris Karius joined Besiktas on loan.
“First and foremost, it was nice to be on the pitch again tonight,” Mignolet told reporters. “It’s been a few months since I’ve played, so I looked forward to it.
“Because it was that long a time, it was a bit strange to be out there again. But I think I tried to do my job the best I could. I haven’t seen everything back yet but I can’t be too disappointed, the way I played.
“So that felt good to be on the pitch and part of the squad and to make sure I’m ready if something happens because, having not played so long, you never know.
“At the same time, if you go out of the competition, which was a chance for me to play every time, it makes the chances of playing small again — and that’s not what you want.”
Liverpool signed Alisson from Roma for £65 million in the summer, and asked whether it was realistic that he could challenge him for the No. 1 spot, Mignolet said: “I don’t really think about that in those terms.
“I know, of course, we’ve signed a new goalkeeper and all that sort of stuff, it doesn’t really change [things] for me.
“The only thing I can do is try to be ready for when the gaffer needs me and, for me personally, it’s about making sure I’m fit and then making sure, like today, that the chances I get to be out there, I show the club I’m ready when they need me. I think I did that.”
Bernardo Silva said Manchester City should not be seen as favourites to win the Champions League after their 2-1 home defeat to Lyon in their opener on Wednesday.
City, who became the first English club to lose four successive Champions League games, have never gone beyond the semifinals in the competition and, the day after Mikel Arteta labelled the squad the best in the world, Silva said City need to make big improvements after a flat performance in the defeat.
“I think we have to focus on us, especially the first half — we were not at our best,” Silva said on BT Sport after the game. “We were not good enough tonight. Unfortunately, we didn’t want to start this way the competition, but it is what it is and we have to go after the next games.”
Silva was then asked if the result affects the belief that they are expected to win the Champions League this season.
“Well, we’re not favourites,” he said. “I think we have a good team. We’ll try to make better than last season, knowing that a club like Man City tries to win every competition. We’re not favourites, but of course, we’ll do our best to win it.”
City were poor in the first half with individual errors punished by Lyon. Fabian Delph’s airkick led to Maxwel Cornet’s opener before Fernandinho gave the ball away for Nabil Fekir’s second just before half-time.
Fernandinho could not explain City’s uncharacteristic poor start but said their group, which also includes Shakhtar Donetsk and Hoffenheim, was not as easy as some people expected.
“From my point of view, it’s a tough group. I never thought it was going to be easy and Lyon showed that,” Fernandinho told reporters. “We had a first half to forget, with some mistakes by myself, and in the second half, we tried to take over, to recover the result, but it was too late.
“We have to be humble now and go to Hoffenheim to try to win there and the other four games as well.”
Manager Pep Guardiola was missing from the touchline as he served a touchline ban after being sent off in last season’s exit to Liverpool.
Mikel Arteta, who was in temporary charge, refused to blame Guardiola’s absence for the defeat, and Fernandinho said doing so would be an excuse.
“I don’t think [it was a problem]. We worked the last two days, focusing with him,” he said. “But you have your own style of play and we play with him the whole season. It was different. The first half was very poor from us and you have to forget it.”
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said Douglas Costa had a “blackout” when he spat at Federico Di Francesco and was sent off in the 2-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.
Costa, 28, has been banned for four matches for unsporting behaviour, but Allegri leapt to his defence and said it was an out-of-character situation and he might even pick him in his team to face Valencia on Wednesday night.
“On Sunday, Douglas Costa had a moment of blackout that should not happen, but it happens to everyone,” Allegri told a news conference in Valencia. “He will pay the price with a four-match suspension and the club won’t be appealing against it.
“It means that we’ll be without him in the league for a month and a half, so we’ve suffered as a team, whilst he is in shock at the minute because it is something very uncharacteristic of him and his usual high standards of fair play. He is very sorry, surprised and over time, he’ll have the chance to show that it was not his usual behaviour.
“If he doesn’t play [on Wednesday], it will only be a purely technical decision. He is the first person to be devastated by all this. Douglas is a person who would move out of the way for a fly.”
“I’m disgusted by what I’ve heard about the presumed words that Federico said, or things I’ve seen on social media about what he could have said to Douglas Costa,” he told a news conference prior to Roma’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid. “Federico, in the end, was the one who got spat at and that is a uniquely humiliating thing.
“Anybody would have reacted differently, yet Federico was a great man and I’m proud of him as his father. All I will say is that he is the only person who has not received an apology and this is absurd. I am the one saying this and it shouldn’t be me having to defend him in public because from what we saw, from the images and all the rest, I’m really disappointed.
“He’s a bit down right now because he’s gone from being the victim to being practically the guilty one and this is truly absurd. This is what social media does.”
Meanwhile, After Inter Milan got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday and Napoli took a point from their trip to Red Star Belgrade, both Roma and Juve will be flying the flag for Italian football in Spain on Wednesday night.
The Giallorossi reached the semifinals last term while Juve — after reaching two of the past four finals — have been tipped to go all the way this time around, but Allegri dismissed the notion of his side being favourites to win the Champions League after signing Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer.
“I hear people saying that we are favourites, but the truth is we are just one of four or five sides who can win it,” he said. “Our objective is to be consistently among the top four clubs in the competition, but we all know that it only takes a split-second to change the course of events, so we must be fully focused throughout.”
“Boring James Milner” (@BoringMilner) has long been one of the funniest football parody accounts out there, but James Milner’s official accounts are starting to give it a run for its money. The 32-year-old joined Instagram and Twitter earlier this year and has looked a natural from day one. The Liverpool midfielder has shown a quick wit on the platforms and is quick to make fun of himself and play up to his “Boring James Milner” label.
After Liverpool defeated PSG 3-2 on Tuesday, aided by a Milner goal, the fan favourite took to social media with PSG superstar Neymar his latest target. In a clever and rather hilarious post, Milner had a bit of a go at Neymar, posting a photo of a tackle he made on the Brazilian with a couple of sly hashtags.
We never thought we’d see the day where the real James Milner would be on social media, but boy are we glad we were wrong! Now we’ll see if Neymar remembers this jab when the two meet again at the end of November. Either way, one thing is for sure: Milner has quickly become a must-follow on social media!
In the away dressing room at Anfield on Tuesday, Kylian Mbappe sat quietly, his head in his hands. A few minutes earlier, the French prodigy gave the ball away on the edge of his own box, which led to Roberto Firmino’s goal, which led to another Paris Saint-Germain loss away from home in a big game: a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool.
Mbappe is sat between Lassana Diarra and Christopher Nkunku. The room is silent. This is not the way PSG wanted to start a new Champions League campaign. Despite the defeat and despite the average performance by his team, however, Thomas Tuchel is not angry; he is actually quite content. The manager even highlights the fact that Paris came back from 2-0 down to draw level 2-2 and almost get a point. In the middle of the room, on the two tables of food left for the players is untouched for now. The PSG squad feels a bit like a beaten boxer, knocked out late in a very important fight.
When the Parisians arrived at the stadium, two hours before kickoff, they looked very relaxed — probably too relaxed. Tuchel was the first one to get out of the coach while Mbappe and Neymar were last. Garissone Innocent, the 18-year-old goalkeeper who has just signed his first professional contract, and Gianluigi Buffon, who was suspended, travelled with the team as well, which could be seen as a sign of unity.
Inside the dressing room, it is a reflection of the cartography of the squad: the two Germans together (Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler), the Spanish speakers (Edinson Cavani next to Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat), the youngsters from the academy (Sebastien Cibois, Moussa Diaby and Stanley Nsoki), the French clan (Diarra, Mbappe, Nkunku, Presnel Kimpembe, Adrien Rabiot and Alphonse Areola) all on the same line and then, on the other side of the room, the Brazilians (Thiago Silva and Marquinhos around Neymar).
One of the problems for PSG in Liverpool was that they did not play as a team, they were not united enough. And maybe that’s reflected in how the dressing room is set up. At this level, against a team of the calibre of Liverpool, you cannot afford to be anything less than a cohesive unit. The difference could come from the team spirit and the collective hard work. There was not enough of that on the French side.
PSG largely defended with only seven players, as Neymar and Mbappe did not track back enough. They were dominated in midfield by the activity of Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner. Attacking wise, there was not enough movement, not enough triangles or combinations. Neymar was nonchalant (at best) and didn’t look connected to the rest of the team. This is a big season for the Brazilian after his injury last year and a controversial World Cup, yet he doesn’t look totally committed and motivated.
Tuchel’s biggest task was exposed in Liverpool: making this team play as a team. Individually, he has a lot of talent at his disposal, but making them play together and for each other will not be easy.
The absence of Marco Verratti, who was suspended, was a big blow. PSG still managed to keep the ball quite well against Liverpool’s press, but they missed the Italian’s passing game going forward. There was not much linkup between the central midfielders and the front three.
Nevertheless, the main positive for the Parisians is that despite being far from their best on the night, they were still only 10 seconds away from getting a point against last season’s finalist. Compared with the 3-1 defeat at Bayern Munich in the group stage last December, PSG have improved a little. Despite the loss, they showed character unlike in previous big away matches.
But the Champions League has been, and still is, a big learning curve for PSG since the Qataris took over the club in 2011. On Tuesday at Anfield, Mbappe made a big mistake that cost his team a goal and two points, and it’s a lesson he has to learn from. On Wednesday, Tuchel watched the game again, a few times even, with his staff. He was still satisfied by a lot of his team’s performance.
There is still a long way to go in the Champions League this season, and it might be a good thing for PSG that this disappointing result arrived so early. However, in the past, they didn’t always show that they could learn from their mistakes. They have to this time if they want to improve as a team.