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Mauricio Pochettino hoping PSG’s home form will improve against Bayern

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Paris St Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino is hoping his team’s home form will match their away performances as they carry a 3-2 advantage against Bayern Munich into their Champions League quarter-final second leg at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

The French champions advanced from the last 16 with a 4-1 away win in the first leg against Barcelona before suffering in the return leg at home in a 1-1 draw.

In Ligue 1, their best performance of the season came last month in a 4-2 win at Olympique Lyonnais, which was followed nine days ago by a 1-0 home loss to Lille.

“I agree that we’ve been better away from home,” Pochettino told a news conference on Monday.

“It is something we will have to look into at the end of the season but let’s hope things start turning around tomorrow.”

PSG suffered in Munich last Wednesday with the German champions boasting 31 attempts on goal, but Pochettino’s team were ruthless up front with Kylian Mbappe scoring a double.

They will, however, be without captain Marquinhos in the starting 11 after the centre back picked up an adductor muscle injury in the first leg.

“I don’t know yet if he will be playing,” said Pochettino.

“We will see how he feels tomorrow and he could be in the squad but I don’t think he will be able to start. So maybe he’ll be on the bench.”

Italy midfielder Marco Verratti is eligible following a weeklong isolation after being infected by Covid-19 while on international duty, but he is also unlikely to start.

“In principle, it will be difficult for Marco to start while Alessandro Florenzi’s situation will be assessed tomorrow,” added the Argentine coach.

Italy full back Florenzi also tested positive for Covid-19 upon his return from international duty.

Pochettino, who labelled Bayern as the “best team in Europe, best team in the world,” said PSG’s attitude would be key.

“It was already hard to keep the ball against Barcelona already, it doesn’t matter who is playing. It’s a question of collective attitude,” he explained.

“It’s a challenge for tomorrow, being able to keep the ball and hurt the opposition.

“The Barca game is behind us and the Bayern game is another story. There will be moments when we will struggle and it’s in these moments that we will need to show solidarity and solidity.”

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Siasia rejects five-year ban

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CAS Reduces Siasia’s Life Ban to Five Years

Super Eagles Former Coach, Samson Siasia, does not accept the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) verdict on the match-fixing charge brought against him by world football governing body, FIFA, an associate of the Olympic silver medallist, Waidi Akanni, has said.

In 2019, FIFA banned Siasia from all football related activities for life over an alleged plot to fix matches. In addition, the world body also imposed a CHF 50,000 fine on the former Super Eagles striker.

FIFA based the sanction against Siasia on his liaison with Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer from Singapore. FIFA said it tried to contact Siasia via email, adding, however, that the coach never replied any of its messages.

FIFA had said in 2019 that Siasia was ‘guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics’ and also fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000).’

Shocked by FIFA’s judgment, Siasia ran to CAS to seek justice. CAS earlier scheduled hearing on the case on March 19, 2020, but later postponed it severally owing to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and the travel restrictions that came with the virus.

The world adjudicatory body recently held the session virtually, giving Siasia the chance to answer to the charges.

In its verdict yesterday, CAS said the imposition of a life ban was ‘disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders.’

“The panel acknowledged the need for sanctions to be sufficiently high enough to eradicate bribery and especially match fixing in football,” CAS said.

“However, the panel considered in the particular circumstances of this matter that it would be inappropriate and excessive to impose a financial sanction in addition to the five-year ban since the ban sanction already incorporated a financial punishment in eliminating football as a source of revenue for Mr. Siasia.”

But, according to Akanni, Siasia is shocked that CAS could still punish him for ‘an offence he did not commit.’

Akanni queried the wisdom in the judgment, saying a guilty verdict cannot be based on ‘passive crime.’

He said: “I am not a lawyer, but CAS showed from its statements that it has no evidence to prove that Siasia accepted to fix games.

“What is the meaning of passive crime? Who are the players he recruited to want to rig games. The guy wanted to give him a job and nothing else. The fight is still on.

“Siasia will eventually release the emails he exchanged with Perumal. There was no collateral damage to anybody. If they had any evidence they should release it to the world.”

Akanni said that Siasia didn’t know of the judgment until he called to inform him, adding, “unfortunately, Samson doesn’t read his emails.

“I am shocked that after paying all the money, this is the judgment he gets. They had a zoom meeting with CAS and he stated everything that transpired between him and Perumal. They know that if they freed him, he would sue them for disrupting his life unjustly for two years. The battle is still on.”

Akanni called on Nigerians to rally round Siasia.

“Why should they reduce a life ban to five years if they had any evidence he committed any crime.”

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Rafa Benitez edges closer to Everton job despite fans backlash

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Rafa Benitez has held further discussions with Everton’s owners, to take an important step closer to the manager’s job.

We understand secret talks were held at the weekend, with the former Liverpool manager’s representatives thrashing out the finer details of a deal which now looks set to be confirmed in the coming days.

A backlash from fans last week – with thousands making clear their anger at the prospective appointment – seemed to have dampened the enthusiasm of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and his backers.

But that did not stall talks completely, and the Benitez camp remain confident that the Everton hierarchy will confirm a contract after several positive meetings.

Moshiri was said to be ‘nervous’ about the reaction of Blues supporters, with several banners placed outside Goodison Park sending uncompromising messages bluntly stating that the Spanish coach was not welcome.

But it seems only a full fan revolt can not stop an appointment which would prove hugely divisive at a club that has endured a catalogue of troubles since Moshiri arrived as owner.

His successor to Carlo Ancelotti – who walked out for Real Madrid after less than 18 months in charge – will be his sixth in five years, and several of his appointments were greeted with hostility by fans.

Sam Allardyce had his contract paid up after less than six months because the fanbase refused to accept him and style of football at the club.

Benitez has provoked a similar response, but Moshiri has allies in the likes of influential club sponsor Alisher Usmanov, which has given him the confidence to continue talks with a manager who is still so closely associated with the Blues’ biggest rivals.

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Real Madrid reject Man Utd’s Paul Pogba ‘straight swap’ transfer proposal

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Real Madrid are reportedly set to reject an offer from Manchester United for Raphael Varane that will include a swap for Paul Pogba.

Varane is a top target for the Red Devils this summer, who are looking to provide Harry Maguire with a world-class partner at centre-back.

Four-time Champions League winner and World Cup champion Varane is expected to cost around £80m.

But with just one year left to run on his contract, United are hoping that they can strike up a deal worth considerably less.

Reports in Spain suggest the Red Devils are keen to pay no more than £35m to keep enough funds to secure a deal for Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

Now though, the Old Trafford board are said to be favouring a swap deal for Varane, with Pogba heading the other way.

Pogba, Varane’s international team-mate with France, has been strongly linked with a move to Real in recent years, even describing it as him “dream” in 2020.

AS claim that United are ready to offer the La Liga side a straight swap – Pogba for Varane.

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