Mbappe is a fantastic guy - Pochettino backs PSG forward after Metz criticism

By Sports Desk September 24, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino has insisted Kylian Mbappe is a "fantastic guy" after the Paris Saint-Germain star came in for criticism following the midweek win over Metz. 

PSG won 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to Achraf Hakimi's last-gasp winner, after Metz captain Dylan Bronn had received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to waste time, with coach Frederic Antonetti then seeing red for his protestations on the touchline. 

As PSG celebrated Hakimi scoring, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja charged out to confront some of Pochettino's players, seemingly angered by the nature of their celebrations, with Mbappe the main target of his remonstrations.  

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Antonetti hit out at Mbappe, who he claimed needed to be humble in his behaviour on the field.

Pochettino, however, defended Mbappe on Friday, saying incidents within a match must be taken within that context. 

"I understand that the coach was angry. That is a natural reaction," said Pochettino. 

"You have to take the context into account, especially when considering after losing a game in the 95th minute, I can empathise with Fred for being angry about the situation. 

"Kylian Mbappe is a fantastic guy, he is a top competitor who wants to win, always. 

"These things happen on the pitch, but I don't think they need to be carried off the pitch as well in terms of the situations with him and some Metz players. 

"These incidents cannot be taken out of context, they have to be analysed within a match in which both teams want to win and many things happen, so that cannot be used out of context. 

"That doesn't reflect the reality of who Kylian is, but I can understand the frustration on their behalf." 

 

Mbappe had a game-leading three attempts, level with Neymar and Hakimi, while the 22-year-old also created four chances, more than any other player. 

He had 76 touches and came out on top in 63.6 per cent of his 11 duels, while also winning three fouls, another game high, though only Neymar (34) lost possession more times than the France forward (18). 

With Lionel Messi out injured, the onus will be on Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead PSG's attack against Montpellier on Saturday. 

Mbappe has been involved in 11 goals against Montpellier in Ligue 1 (eight goals, three assists), more than any other current team in the competition. 

After failing to be involved in either goal against Metz, however, he will be aiming to make sure he does not feature in successive league matches without scoring or assisting for the first time since February. 

Related items

  • Fiorentina demand clarity as Vlahovic transfer speculation rumbles on Fiorentina demand clarity as Vlahovic transfer speculation rumbles on

    Fiorentina have demanded clarity from Dusan Vlahovic amid ongoing transfer speculation but Viola director Joe Barone reiterated that no offers have been made for the striker.

    Several of Europe's biggest clubs, including Juventus, Manchester City and Arsenal, are said to be interested in the Serbia international.

    Reports in Italy suggest Juve are the 21-year-old's preferred destination.

    Vlahovic has scored 17 times in 21 Serie A appearances this season, finding the net every 109.5 minutes on average and outperforming his expected goals tally of 12.2.

    He also ended 2021 in impressive fashion, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's 21st-century record for the most goals in the Italian top flight in a calendar year (33), set in 2020 – only Gunnar Nordahl in 1950 (36) has ever scored more across the same period.

    But Fiorentina, who have already confirmed they are open to selling their star forward, want Vlahovic to provide them with some clarity on his future.

    Barone told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Sunday's clash with Cagliari: "I want to talk about Fiorentina, who are playing today [Sunday] and deserve all the focus of the club and fans.

    "We talk every day about this, we said a lot recently, Fiorentina have not received any offers. We have been very clear, we are open to anything, but we want clarity.

    "We want clarity from the player and his entourage. Fiorentina have a future, which isn't just today's game, but also the future of a group, a fanbase, a city. We need to concentrate on that too."

    Vlahovic was left out of the squad for the trip to Cagliari with Fiorentina announcing, but not naming, that two members of their matchday squad had tested positive for COVID-19. Riccardo Saponara was also absent.

  • Benzema defends Messi's PSG form: 'People who criticise him know nothing about football' Benzema defends Messi's PSG form: 'People who criticise him know nothing about football'

    Lionel Messi has found an unlikely ally in Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who believes those criticising the Argentinian's form at Paris Saint-Germain know nothing about football.

    Messi joined PSG on a shock free transfer from Barcelona in August after the Blaugrana came to the realisation they simply could not afford to pay his wages in line with their reduced salary cap.

    The move was seen as another big step for PSG in their quest to finally win the Champions League, as he was joining a team that already boasted Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in attack.

    But Messi is yet to truly take off in Paris. While his haul of five goals in as many Champions League games is a good return, in Ligue 1 it has been a different story, netting just once in 11 appearances.

    Unless he has an incredible second half to the season, Messi will fall well short of the 38 goals he scored across all competitions for Barca last term.

    As for his creativity, Messi ranks third in the PSG squad for chances created (32) and his assists total of four is rather less than many would expect of him, particularly when Mbappe has 12 to his name.

    But there have been extenuating circumstances given he did not have much of a pre-season, he has suffered with injuries and illness, and he is settling into new surroundings for the first time in his senior career.

    As such, Benzema feels criticism of Messi – who could make his first appearance of 2022 on Sunday after a bout of coronavirus – is unfair.

    Asked if Messi will be a success at PSG, Benzema told TF1: "How won't he succeed?

    "It is just a period of adaptation, because he is not scoring a lot of goals. But watch what he does on the pitch.

    "In any case you can't criticise a player like that. In fact, he who criticises Messi, knows nothing about football."

    Messi claimed his record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or last year, an award that many had tipped Benzema to win over the course of the year.

    Ultimately the Frenchman finished fourth in the running, also behind Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho, which was seemingly a source of frustration for him.

    Winning the prize remains a goal of Benzema's, though he does not think he could have done any more than he did over 2021.

    "Fourth, third or second is the same as 30th," he said. "The main thing is to win it.

    "I was told that I hadn't won enough trophies, but I couldn't do more. It remains a goal and each season I will try to do better than what I did last season."

    Everything points to the 34-year-old being in contention again at the end of 2022 as he sits atop LaLiga's goalscoring chart with 17, five more than anyone else in the division.

    That haul has helped him to 303 goals for Madrid, which leaves Benzema just five behind club great Alfredo Di Stefano in third, while Raul (323) is not much further ahead in second – Cristiano Ronaldo (450) is way out in front.

    Benzema never expected to get anywhere near Di Stefano's haul, which makes the achievement even more satisfying.

    "It's a source of pride but I want to continue," Benzema added. "When I arrived, I saw [Di Stefano's record] so far away.

    "I did not see these records as an objective, but today to be close to these legends is exceptional.

    "When we arrive at Madrid, we don't tell ourselves that we will stay 10 or 15 years, we just want to win titles."

  • Australian Open: 'I'm good at being me' – Barty will continue to play her own game in bid for Melbourne glory Australian Open: 'I'm good at being me' – Barty will continue to play her own game in bid for Melbourne glory

    World number one Ash Barty promised to carry on playing her own game after booking her spot in the last eight of the Australian Open.

    Barty, the top seed, defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-3 on Sunday to progress to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for a fourth successive time.

    Anisimova defeated last year's champion Naomi Osaka in the last round, but she proved no match for Barty, who sealed the win in 74 minutes.

    Barty did see her run of holding serve ended, however, after 63 games without being broken, though it was a minor blip in another convincing win. 

    Indeed, the 25-year-old has now won all four of her Australian Open ties without dropping a set.

    Asked what was key to her dominant form, Barty said: "I think the most important thing is I just try to be me, continue to be me, that's all I can do.

    "That's what I’m good at, that's who I and who I want to be."

    Her comments were well received by the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, and Barty is delighted to be playing in front of spectators once again.

    "The last two years have been extraordinarily tough for a lot of people around the world," she said.

    "To have the crowd here, it brings a lot more to the tennis. It makes it a lot more enjoyable for me to play at home."

    Barty struck seven aces and registered a first-serve percentage of 78, while also hitting 23 winners and making exactly half the amount of unforced errors as Anisimova (17 to 34).

    "Amanda is an incredible athlete and incredible competitor. It's nice to see her back playing her best tennis," Barty continued.

    "I enjoyed sharing the court with her and testing myself against her. It was nice to be able to hold firm tonight."

    Asked in a post-match news conference about dropping serve for the first time in eight matches, Barty replied: "It didn't bother me too much.

    "Honestly, I'm not counting how many games I hold in a row or not. The fact I was able to reset, break straight back, was really important, just to be able to reset myself, go again and continue to do the right things."

    Next up for Barty, a two-time major winner who is yet to taste victory in her home grand slam, is another American in the form of Jessica Pegula, who upset fifth seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-0) 6-3.

    "It's going to be a challenge for me to try and push her off that baseline and make her uncomfortable and feel like she has to create," Barty told reporters.

    "But I know that she's also going to be doing the exact same thing to me and trying to make me uncomfortable.

    "That's the chess game that we play. You go out there and have fun with it, see who can execute better on the day, and that's about all there is to it."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.