Marquinhos savoured a "perfect evening" for Paris Saint-Germain as Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick and Angel di Maria signed off in style in a 5-0 rout of Metz.

Mauricio Pochettino's side relegated Metz by dishing out on a thrashing in their final game of the season after Mbappe signed a new contract.

It was announced before kick-off at Parc des Princes on Saturday that France forward Mbappe had snubbed Real Madrid in favour of putting paper on a new three-year deal with the Ligue 1 champions.

Meanwhile Di Maria, who left the field in tears when substituted late on, marked his final appearance for the club after seven years in the French capital by rounding off the scoring.

Marquinhos told Prime Video Sport: "The tribute to Di Maria is deserved for everything he has done. Kylian [Mbappe] scores and announces his extension, it's a perfect evening."

And the skipper is well aware of the significance of keeping hold of Mbappe following so much talk that he was on his way to Madrid.

He added: "[Kylian] was strong; he didn't say anything, he showed nothing. When we were in the dressing room, this ceremony [when his new deal was revealed] boosted us for the game.

"[His extension] is a big step, but there is still a lot to do, we have to analyse what has been good and not so good this season."

Marquinhos also paid tribute to the outgoing Di Maria, who is heavily linked with a move to Serie A giants Juventus.

"[Angel is] a great, he's a gentleman. He's a big game player," he continued.

"He has always made a difference for us – me especially; he gave me a lot of passes. 

"It touches when you see players like that leave; it's part of my story here.  It hurts to see him go, we just have to thank him."

Palmeiras midfielder Danilo has been granted his first call-up to the Brazil squad, while Tite selected Fabinho for the upcoming friendlies in June despite injury concerns over the Liverpool star.

Brazil announced a 27-man squad on Wednesday for friendlies against Korea Republic, Japan and South American rivals Argentina next month.

Fabinho is one of 13 Premier League players called up, despite the midfielder limping off in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday after suffering a muscle injury.

Reports suggest Fabinho will miss the upcoming FA Cup final against Chelsea, along with league games against Wolves and Southampton, as he faces a race against the clock to feature in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28 as Liverpool hunt an unprecedented quadruple.

Fellow midfielder Danilo was the other notable inclusion by Tite, with the Palmeiras man earning his maiden call-up after impressing at the Club World Cup, where his side were defeated in the final by Chelsea.

On Danilo's inclusion, Tite told reporters: "Danilo is one of those players that we have been following, we are always attentive to players that are emerging. 

"Danilo played well at the Club World Cup in games that we followed live and made visits to the club. We were looking at a series of things on how he performs so we could justify his selection."

Fabinho's Liverpool team-mate Alisson also made the list, along with fellow goalkeeper Ederson, while Manchester United duo Alex Telles and Fred were named alongside Arsenal's Gabriel Magalhaes.

Newcastle United's Bruno Guimaraes was again selected by Tite and will look to add to his six caps, but there was no room for Magpies team-mate Joelinton, who has impressed since dropping into midfield under Eddie Howe.

Casemiro could partner Guimaraes in the middle alongside Lyon's Lucas Paqueta, while Weverton and Guilherme Arana were the only other two players to feature from Brazil's domestic league.

Tite will have vast experience in the backline to call upon as well, with the likes of Alex Sandro, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos to select from.

Up top, Gabriel Jesus will look to carry over his scoring form from his exploits with Manchester City, with Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Real Madrid's Champions League hero Rodrygo part of a star-studded attacking line-up.

The upcoming friendlies are part of Brazil's penultimate preparations for the 2022 World Cup, where Tite's side are placed in Group G alongside Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Manchester United), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Danilo (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico-MG), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain) and Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Danilo (Palmeiras), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon) and Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphinha (Leeds), Richarlison (Everton), Rodrygo (Real Madrid) and Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain threw away a two-goal lead for a second successive league game as Troyes battled back to earn a 2-2 draw at the Parc des Princes.

The hosts looked to be in control when Marquinhos and Neymar gave them a comfortable first-half lead, but a series of defensive errors allowed the visitors to fight back in an entertaining affair.

Having surrendered a 3-1 advantage in last week's 3-3 draw with Strasbourg, PSG were on the wrong end of another turnaround when Ike Ugbo and Florian Tardieu scored either side of the break.

Neymar also had two goals disallowed as PSG laboured to another underwhelming result, as the pressure on head coach Mauricio Pochettino continues to mount.

The hosts looked on course for a routine win when Marquinhos turned in Angel Di Maria's excellent cross to open the scoring after five minutes, with Neymar doubling the lead from the spot 20 minutes later after Erik Palmer-Brown clumsily felled Kylian Mbappe.

But Troyes were soon gifted a route back into the game when Ugbo intercepted Nuno Mendes' terrible pass to fire into the bottom-left corner after half an hour.

PSG went close to re-establishing their two-goal advantage when Lionel Messi side-footed against the post, only for Neymar to be ruled offside when smashing home the rebound.

The visitors punished another PSG error when Presnel Kimpembe hauled down Renaud Ripart after the interval, allowing Tardieu to execute an audacious panenka to level the scores, before Neymar saw another goal chalked off after Mbappe's foul in the build-up.

Marquinhos sent a firm header wide and Messi crashed a long-range shot against the bar as the hosts chased a late winner, only for the disciplined visitors to claim a point at a frustrated Parc des Princes.

What does it mean? PSG drop rare home points

While PSG remain unbeaten in 21 Ligue 1 home games (18 wins, three draws), they have now gone two home matches without a win for the first time since doing so between February and April 2021 (three consecutive defeats).

The result will do little to disquiet the discontent around Pochettino's team, with the Argentine under severe pressure despite wrapping up PSG's 10th Ligue 1 title last month.

Neymar continues fine form

Despite PSG flattering to deceive in the second half of the season, Neymar's strong individual performances have proven crucial to their title win.

After converting his first-half penalty, the Brazilian has contributed to goals in each of his last six league games (seven goals and three assists in total).

Tardieu on the spot

In a contest which revolved around two spot-kicks, Tardieu kept his nerve to beat Keylor Navas with a sumptuous lob as the visitors earned a creditable draw.

The 30-year-old has scored four Ligue 1 goals this season, each of them from the spot.

What's next?

PSG travel to Montpellier for the penultimate outing of the Ligue 1 season next Saturday, while Troyes host Lens on the same day.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino and centre back Marquinhos have criticised the home fans at Parc des Princes for their lack of support in Sunday's 2-1 Classique victory against Marseille.

All three goals came in an action-packed first half, with Neymar breaking the deadlock in the 12th minute, before Duje Caleta-Car equalised when he forced home a corner from Dimitri Payet nearly 20 minutes later.

On the stroke of half-time, PSG were awarded a questionable penalty after a hopeful Neymar ball was deflected into the elbow of a Marseille defender, with VAR awarding Kylian Mbappe the penalty to head into the sheds leading 2-1.

The second half was largely controlled by Marseille, with over 60 per cent possession, and they thought they had equalised in the 85th minute when William Saliba got on the end of a Payet free kick, but VAR ruled it out for offside.

With the win, PSG are now 15 points clear of second-placed Marseille with six games remaining, but Pochettino said the support from the crowd did not feel like they were a team cruising to a league title.

"We are still waiting for the supporters to be able to expend the energy to support us," he said.

"They show their disappointment – and as I always say, there is freedom of expression, it is their way of expressing themselves, and we have to respect it. But we would like to always have the support of the supporters.

"Winning a 10th title in the history of the club is not trivial, and we would like to [enjoy the] experience with them."

It is reported that the club's main supporter group, Virage Auteuil, are continuing to protest the lack of changes at a boardroom and management level after a disappointing Champions League exit against Real Madrid, but Marquinhos said it still caught him by surprise.

"I wasn’t expecting it. It wasn’t the right time to do that," he said.

"I understand if they haven’t gotten a response, [but] they should have put their pride to one side. As a player, I don’t agree with it."

Neymar merely needs to find his rhythm to rediscover his best form, so says Mauricio Pochettino.

Brazil star Neymar has endured another injury hit campaign for Paris Saint-Germain, with the 30-year-old having made just 22 appearances across all competitions.

That is 16 fewer than Kylian Mbappe, who has arguably outshone the former Barcelona forward since they both arrived in Paris in 2017.

Neymar served up a reminder of his qualities with two fine goals in PSG's 5-1 thrashing of Lorient last time out, though it was again Mbappe who stole the show with a pair of superb strikes and three assists, with the final star of Pochettino's attacking trio, Lionel Messi, also netting.

It was not for a lack of trying from a creative standpoint for Neymar, though, as he led the way for key passes (five) and had as many shots on target (three) as Mbappe, while his double took him to within one goal of his 200th in European football since he joined Barca from Santos in 2013.

Neymar's 12 direct goal contributions this season pales in comparison to Mbappe (45), though Pochettino is confident that his fellow South American will be able to return to his peak form sooner rather than later.

"PSG signed Neymar because of his quality, and it has been there for all to see," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Clermont.

"He has had runs of injuries, there are ups and downs. Neymar suffered an injury soon after [I] arrived [at PSG].

 

"We have worked hard to get him back and like every attacker he needs rhythm, he needs to play to feel confident.

"I have no doubt that Neymar will keep showing his quality. He will be aiming for more."

Another of PSG's Brazil regulars to have struggled for his best form in recent weeks, albeit at the other end of the pitch, has been Marquinhos.

The centre-back has been a consistent performer during his time in the French capital yet had a horror show along with the rest of PSG's defence in the capitulation to Real Madrid in the Champions League on March 9.

Marquinhos has only made one error that led to a shot this season, yet it came against PSG and resulted in Karim Benzema scoring in that famous comeback win for Los Blancos.

He has made 33 starts this season, tallying up 2,952 minutes and helping PSG to 12 clean sheets, though he was unusually sloppy against Lorient.

With Marquinhos and his partner having welcomed a child this week, and the 27-year-old dealing with minor injury issues, Pochettino has elected to rest him.

"Everyone has been affected by the game in Madrid and getting knocked out of the Champions League," Pochettino said.

"If we analysed all of that game, we were better than Madrid but in the end it didn't go our way. Marquinhos will not be involved in the Clermont game. He’s had a few injuries and we have decided to give him a rest.

"Every player goes through different stages throughout the season, but the Marquinhos is a consistent player. He has very high standards, he is our captain and a top player.

Marquinhos' absence may mean that Sergio Ramos comes into the side.

"That is something I am thinking about now Marquinhos is unavailable," Pochettino said.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Marquinhos and coach Mauricio Pochettino both slammed the performance of the Ligue 1 leaders in Sunday's defeat to Monaco.

The 3-0 loss, in which Wissam Ben Yedder scored a double either side of Kevin Volland's goal, is the heaviest defeat PSG have suffered in Ligue 1 since a 5-1 loss at Lille in April 2019.

PSG have now lost three of their last five games in Ligue 1, as many as they did from their previous 36 matches (27 wins and six draws).

It also represented PSG's heaviest loss to Monaco since September 1999, when the principality club defeated them by the same scoreline in Paris, and Marquinhos did not hold back in his criticism of the display.

"It's hard to digest. It's our worst game of the year," he told reporters.

"We came here to have fun and win a game. We are in a difficult moment. 

"You can't just throw it all away. We all have to work together to get out of this moment."

Marquinhos stopped short of suggesting that PSG's recent Champions League elimination at Real Madrid has led the team to drop off, but claimed they could still lose their 13-point Ligue 1 lead without major improvements.

"It is not a relaxation," he added. "There were a lot of expectations [against Real Madrid]. It's a defeat that hurts us. 

"Now we have goals to look for. We have to do our best, with the right mentality. 

"If we continue to perform like that, it is sure that the title is in danger. The alert is there. We will have to come back [from the international break] with a good state of mind."

PSG boss Pochettino has now lost eight of his first 50 league games in the Parisian dugout, the same amount that his predecessor Thomas Tuchel suffered in his first half-century of matches.

Pochettino repeated Marquinhos's criticism of the performance after the match, calling his team's display "unacceptable".

"It is inadmissible to start this way," Pochettino said of PSG's dire first-half showing. "Afterwards, there is sporting shame. 

"Now we have to move on, get over the frustration of the Champions League and think about giving our best, and have a competitive spirit.

"This is unacceptable. This first half is unacceptable. We didn't have a fighting spirit, the way we played is not acceptable.

"This cannot happen, we can have [bad] performances, but this type of attitude is not possible. It's unacceptable to start the match this way. Respect for the club, [and for] our supporters, is essential."

Cristiano Ronaldo ended a run of six matches without scoring in Tuesday's win over Brighton and Hove Albion, but the Manchester United forward's future remains uncertain.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's second spell at Old Trafford has not gone quite to plan and a number of European clubs are said to be circling should he depart.

If reports are accurate, it may well be that a reunion with former boss Jose Mourinho is on the cards for Ronaldo in the coming months.


TOP STORY – ROMA IN FOR RONALDO

Roma are one of three clubs currently in the running to sign Ronaldo should he depart United in the next transfer window, according to The Sun.

Giallorossi boss Mourinho previously managed Ronaldo at Real Madrid and is eager to bolster his squad with a superstar signing.

However, it is not known if the 37-year-old would welcome a return to Serie A, where he previously spent three seasons playing for Juventus ahead of rejoining United.

European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are reported to be the other two sides to have expressed an interest in Ronaldo.


ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea are now solely focused on signing Jules Kounde from Sevilla after being told that top defensive target Marquinhos will not be sold by PSG.

- According to The Sun, Armando Broja's form on loan with Southampton has seen the Chelsea youngster's name added to Bayern and Borussia Dortmund's list of targets.

- Manchester City have bid £5.5million (€6.5m) for Atletico Mineiro's teenage winger Savio, suggests The Guardian, with the intention of then loaning him out to PSV.

- Juan Mata will depart United as a free agent at the end of the campaign, claims Nicolo Schira. The midfielder may look to see out his career in his Spanish homeland.

- Ralf Rangnick is eager for United to bring in Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig, according to ESPN. Madrid, Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal have also been linked.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Marquinhos is convinced Kylian Mbappe will be at ease with the prospect of facing Real Madrid amid the backdrop of intense speculation linking him with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mbappe has been a long-term target of Madrid's and was the subject of more than one huge bids last year, but PSG held firm, adamant they could persuade him to sign a new deal.

Half a year on and Mbappe is into the final six months of his PSG contract, with everything pointing towards a likely free transfer to Madrid at the end of the season.

As such, all eyes will be on the France star as PSG take on Madrid in their upcoming last-16 tie in the Champions League.

Madrid visit Paris on Tuesday looking to get the upper hand, but Marquinhos has no doubts about Mbappe's state of mind.

Asked on Monday if beating Madrid over the two legs could convince Mbappe to stay at PSG, Marquinhos replied: "That is not the goal. The goal is to play well because even though it's over two legs, we know the home leg is particularly important.

"We are at home, and we will try to get a good result, play well and win. We want to score goals as that is important.

"We want Kylian to be as comfortable and happy as possible. He is still quite young and very strong mentally.

"He knows how to navigate the moments he is living through. He is confident, and we can see how he is doing on the pitch.

"He is at ease with the situation, happy to play with us, and we will make the most of that so he can be decisive for us. I hope he does that with us tomorrow, and he has his choices to make."

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino is thought to be under significant pressure heading into this tie, with recent reports claiming he could be dismissed if they fail to reach the quarter-finals.

Yet he does not think there is greater pressure on PSG to prevail, suggesting they remain "pretenders" in a competition they have not yet won.

"I don't think there's more pressure on one side than the other," he said. "We respect Madrid given the history and trophies – they have won the most Champions League titles, 13, which shows that it's not just about players or coaching staff, but the strength within the structure internally at the club.

"Whenever you win trophies, it's down to a combination of factors where clubs can show their power, even more so in the Champions League.

"I don't think there is a favourite. It's a tie that could be a final, given the names, players and quality. Madrid have been winning this competition for 50 years – PSG are the pretenders.

"And now we are trying to get closer to that dream. I have total confidence in my team and players, and the supporters who give us energy."

Neymar suffered a potentially serious injury as Paris Saint-Germain laboured to a 3-1 win over 10-man Saint-Etienne.

Looking for a response after their defeat to Manchester City in midweek, not to mention the speculation over Mauricio Pochettino's future, PSG fell flat for much of Sunday's game but Angel Di Maria and Marquinhos came up with the goods late on.

Marquinhos had earlier cancelled out Denis Bouanga's opener, after Timothee Kolodziejczak was sent off for the struggling hosts.

However, PSG will now hold concern over Neymar, who had to be taken off on a stretcher with an apparent ankle injury between the visitors' late goals.

Sergio Ramos has taken a significant step towards making his Paris Saint-Germain debut after he was named in the squad to face Manchester City on Wednesday.

Ramos is yet to feature for PSG, having struggled with a calf issue since his arrival from Real Madrid on a free transfer in the close season.

The Spain international only made 15 LaLiga appearances in his final season at Madrid, and last played in May when Los Blancos went down to Chelsea in the Champions League.

Mauricio Pochettino confirmed last week that Ramos was nearing a return to action, but the 35-year-old – along with fellow centre-back Marquinhos – was not included in the squad to face Nantes at the weekend.

However, both have been included for Wednesday's Champions League trip to the Etihad Stadium.

A win for PSG would guarantee their progression to the last 16, while a victory for City would see Pep Guardiola's team top Group A.

PSG won the previous meeting between the sides in the group stage, with Lionel Messi scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-0 win at the Parc des Princes.

Messi netted his maiden Ligue 1 goal in the 3-1 win over Nantes on Saturday, and the Argentinian is also fit to face City, as are PSG's other star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Angel Di Maria completed Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 comeback win against Lille in a game that saw Lionel Messi substituted at half-time.

Messi was a fitness doubt ahead of Friday's match at the Parc des Princes after missing training on the eve of the contest, and he was taken off with PSG a goal behind, his Ligue 1 goal drought continuing.

Jonathan David's 31st-minute strike had reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille on course for a third successive win over the current pacesetters, but Marquinhos equalised 16 minutes from time and Di Maria fired in a late winner.

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG side have now won all eight home matches this season, scoring at least twice in each of those, and are 10 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 having played a game more than second-placed Lens.

Playing with Lionel Messi is "easy" for Kylian Mbappe, who knows Paris Saint-Germain must find a higher level than they did against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.

Messi scored twice to take his tally of Champions League goals to 123 as PSG came out on top 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Parc des Princes.

While he is yet to find the net in Ligue 1, Messi has now scored three times in UEFA's flagship competition for his new club, taking him level with Mauro Icardi and Neymar for the most goals inside three Champions League appearances for PSG.

With the injured Neymar watching from the stands, Mbappe played a crucial part in both of Messi's goals, first teeing up the 34-year-old to restore parity after Nordi Mukiele made it 2-1 to Leipzig, before winning the penalty from which the Argentine coolly chipped home the winner.

Mbappe opened the scoring in a frantic match, finishing brilliantly in the ninth minute to take his number of direct goal contributions for PSG in the Champions League to 40.

The youngster has already scored 28 goals in the Champions League; the most by any player in the competition before their 23rd birthday, ahead of Messi (25). Mbappe did, however, pull rank over Messi late on to take a second penalty, denying his team-mate the chance of a hat-trick, only to send his effort into the stands.

"We found each other tonight, it was good," Mbappe told RMC Sport when asked about Messi.

"Now, Neymar will come back. We will have to be good together, all three of us. We will need to be efficient. But, it's easy to play with Messi."

While Mbappe and Messi got PSG out of trouble and sent Mauricio Pochettino's side back to the top of Group A, it was another performance largely lacking in control, with Leipzig having 18 attempts in total, eight more than their hosts managed.

Andre Silva, who cancelled out Mbappe's opener, had previously hit the woodwork, while former PSG midfielder Christopher Nkunku also went close on several occasions. 

Though he is revelling in his growing relationship with Messi, Mbappe insisted the trend of performances cannot continue.

"In the league, we may be a bit laborious, but we have nine wins in ten games," he said. "We have to do better, it's true. For the moment, we are not playing well, [but] we are winning. But I think we have to play better to win more calmly."

It was a sentiment echoed by Marquinhos, who was also full of praise for Mbappe's display.

"Paris won, that's the most important thing," he said. "You have to suffer, there is no gift in football. We knew that there would be no easy matches. The main thing is to win, to gain confidence and experience.

"It's great to have a player like [Mbappe]. He's a very important player in the team. He plays great matches. It's very important to have him fresh, with confidence. He helps us on the field, it is very good for us that he is there."

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa scored an 85th-minute penalty as Brazil came from behind to preserve their perfect CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying record with a late 3-1 win at Venezuela.

The Selecao had never lost in 17 previous World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela (W16 D1) – the most Brazil had faced an opponent without defeat – but the South American giants found themselves sensationally trailing at half-time on Thursday.

Eric Ramirez's first international goal had bottom outfit Venezuela dreaming of the unlikeliest of wins in the 11th minute, but Marquinhos equalised in the 71st minute in Caracas.

Gabigol was fouled with five minutes remaining and converted his own spot-kick to guide CONMEBOL leaders Brazil to their ninth win in nine qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022, with Antony adding a third goal in the 96th minute.

Brazil made a bright start away to lowly Venezuela, as Gabigol saw effort flash just wide of the post in the seventh minute.

Against the run of play four minutes later, Venezuela claimed a surprise lead thanks to Ramirez.

Yeferson Soteldo charged down the wing and delivered an inch-perfect cross to Ramirez, who made no mistake as he guided his header past Alisson and into the bottom corner of the net.

Ramirez's goal ended Brazil's sequence of six consecutive clean sheets in World Cup qualifying – the longest of any team in the history of the CONMEBOL tournament.

Brazil continued to control proceedings but had nothing to show for it after Everton Ribeiro's shot deflected onto the crossbar in the 22nd minute, evading his team-mates for a tap-in.

Venezuela made it to half-time without conceding but Brazil put the ball in the back of the net 11 minutes into second half.

Fortunately for Venezuela, Thiago Silva's headed goal for Brazil was disallowed due to offside, much to the disappointment of the Selecao.

Venezuela continued to take the game to Brazil as the contest opened up, with the visitors chasing an equaliser, and they did restore parity via Marquinhos' towering header 19 minutes from the end.

Brazil broke Venezuela's hearts during the closing stages after Gabigol – who was tackled from behind as he tried to pounce on Vinicius Junior's rebound – coolly scored from the spot before Antony made it 3-1 with the last kick of the game.

 

What does it mean? No stopping Brazil after scare

Brazil were facing the very real prospect of their first ever qualifying loss to Venezuela before Marquinhos and Gabigol. With it, Brazil extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers to 26 matches, dating back to 2015.

Gabigol steps up late

Time after time, Gabigol has showed his quality for Brazilian giants Flamengo. Now, the former Inter forward is performing on the international stage. Gabigol scored his third international goal and first since the 2016 Copa America.

So close but yet so far

Venezuela threatened a boilover on home soil, but the minnows instead were left licking their wounds following a fifth consecutive defeat. Venezuela are winless in 10 matches across all competitions and are bottom of the CONMEBOL standings.

What's next?

Brazil will make the trip to Colombia on Sunday as Venezuela host Ecuador on the same day.

Lionel Messi's long wait for major international honours with Argentina is finally over after playing a starring role in their Copa America triumph, winning the Player of the Tournament prize before the final was even played.

In the age-old – and some might say tiresome – 'greatest of all time' debate, the stick usually used to beat Messi with revolved around his lack of titles with Argentina, but that is no longer relevant and he also played a vital role for La Albiceleste.

It was also an important barrier that Argentina broke down as a team, winning their first major international title since 1993.

Messi's performances see him lead Stats Perform's Opta data-driven Team of the Tournament, and he is joined by some familiar names as well as those who enjoyed breakthroughs over the past month.

 

Goalkeeper – Emiliano Martinez (Argentina)

Aston Villa keeper Martinez has enjoyed a remarkable 18 months or so and it's fair to say his form at the Copa America has helped truly cement his place as Argentina's first choice between the posts. His personality proved vital in the penalty shoot-out win over Colombia in the semi-finals as he psyched out Yerry Mina, but he also showed his excellence by finishing with an 85.7 per cent save ratio that was the second best in the tournament, while his four clean sheets was the best tally.

 

Right-back – Juan Cuadrado (Colombia)

Cuadrado can always be relied upon to provide some attacking impetus on the right flank and he certainly didn't disappoint in the Copa, his 18 chances created being the most for Colombia and among the top five of all players. The same could be said of his 22 open-play crosses, while Cuadrado also made 45 recoveries, the second most in Los Cafeteros' squad, highlighting how he was often in the right place to sweep up danger as well.

 

Centre-back – Marquinhos (Brazil)

While Brazil ultimately fell short at the Maracana on Saturday, Marquinhos can leave the tournament with his head held high. His ability to bring the ball out from the back was routinely notable, as highlighted by the fact his 110 carries was bettered by only four players, all of whom are forwards, but he was also a commanding presence at the back, with his 2.8 aerial the most among Brazil players.

Centre-back – Piero Hincapie (Ecuador)

Still only 19, Hincapie showed real promise here. Granted, there were signs that he remains quite raw and naive, as demonstrated by some of his struggles against Argentina in the quarter-finals when he was sent off late on for tugging back Angel Di Maria. Nevertheless, the Lazio-linked talent averaged the most passes per game for Ecuador (52.2) and showed real positivity when in possession, carrying the ball 600.7 metres upfield over the course of the tournament, at least 44m more than any other centre-back.

Left-back – Pervis Estupinan (Ecuador)

Estupinan endured a somewhat underwhelming first season with Villarreal in 2020-21, but in the Copa he showed glimpses of the player that had impressed so regularly with Osasuna the season before. He was consistently a useful outlet on the left and his eagerness to create saw him average more crosses per 90 minutes (9.6) than any other player in the tournament, while his 2.4 key passes each game was the most of all defenders.

Central midfield – Wilmar Barrios (Colombia)

The all-action midfielder performed an important function as Colombia ultimately finished third in the Copa. Barrios was tidy in possession as he looked to keep Reinaldo Rueda's men ticking, completing 88 per cent of his passes, but he was also effective at regaining possession and recovering the ball as he started 76 open play sequences, which only Yoshimar Yotun and Casemiro could better.

Central midfield – Rodrigo De Paul (Argentina)

Get ready to hear a bit more about De Paul over the next few years. While he's by no means an unknown given he's had a strong few years with Udinese, the midfielder is set to join Atletico Madrid and offers the blend of off-the-ball nous and technical ability that should see him thrive under Diego Simeone. His 32 ball recoveries led the way for Argentina while his six key passes was second only to Lionel Messi, with one of those being the glorious long-range pass to release Di Maria for the crucial goal in the final.

Right wing – Lionel Messi (Argentina)

While he may have fluffed his lines at the end of the final, Messi's exploits throughout the tournament previously meant he could be forgiven for that. After all, without his unbeaten four goals and five assists – a high for the tournament – Argentina almost certainly wouldn't have reached the showpiece. He remains one goal behind Pele's record (77) for CONMEBOL nations, but he finally has his first trophy with Argentina, and that's what matters most.

 

Attacking midfield – Neymar (Brazil)

Neymar had a peculiar tournament in some ways. No one would suggest he was poor, because he was routinely the player that provided the spark for Brazil, as evidenced by his tournament-leading 3.5 key passes and 21.6 passes into the final third each game (among players with more than one match played), but he was also wasteful in front of goal, his one non-penalty goal from 5.3 xG giving him the worst xG under-performance (4.3) at the tournament.

 

Left wing – Luis Diaz (Colombia)

Porto's Diaz is an exciting player and showed as much for Colombia as they claimed bronze. He scored more non-penalty goals (four) than any other player and produced some spectacular finishes, such as his remarkable bicycle-kick against Brazil and 30-yard screamer to seal victory in the third-place play-off against Peru. His four goals came from just 10 shots, with that 40 per cent conversion the best among those with three or more goals.

 

Striker – Lautaro Martinez (Argentina)

Despite the presence of Sergio Aguero, Martinez was the man generally chosen to lead the line at the Copa and he did fairly well as he netted three goals, with only Messi and Diaz getting more. While he was guilty of wastefulness at times, his three-goal haul was actually pretty close to his 3.3 xG, showing that for the most part he was dependable. Similarly, only two players averaged more shots on target per 90 minutes (players with more than one match played) than his 1.4. He also improved on his two goals from the 2019 edition, so he's seemingly going in the right direction.

Brazil head coach Tite lauded Neymar after the superstar inspired the Copa America champions to a 3-0 win against Venezuela in Sunday's curtain-raiser.

Neymar scored and was involved in the two other goals as Brazil kicked off their title defence in victorious fashion behind closed doors in Brasilia.

Marquinhos opened the scoring following Neymar's corner in the 23rd minute before the latter converted a penalty after the hour mark.

It was Neymar's 67th international goal – just 10 shy of Pele's all-time record. Since making his Brazil debut in August 2010, the Paris Saint-Germain forward has scored 48 more goals than any of his Selecao team-mates.

Neymar then provided the cross for substitute Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa to complete the scoring in the final minute of regulation as Tite refused to make comparisons with Brazil greats Ronaldo and Romario.

"When Neymar is well physically and well in his head, good things happen," Tite told reporters after the 29-year-old created seven chances against Venezuela – the most by any Brazil player in the Copa America since his international bow.

"When you have a player with the technical quality that he has, you gain in assist ability, with the left foot or with the right foot, and he becomes an unpredictable player.

"When you stop him in a more advanced position on the field of play it is better for him, because the opponents are afraid of making him an infraction in a dangerous place on the field, so we structure the team so that he receives fewer balls, but to do it in a more efficient way for the creation of the game.

"It would be an injustice to compare players from different eras, because the players of my generation were extraordinary, Neymar is also extraordinary, and a while ago Ronaldo and Romario were also extraordinary.

"There are different stages and moments, so you have to be very careful not to compare them."

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