New Paris St Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the today’s game against Angers as he goes into self-isolation, the French Ligue 1 club said yesterday.
Pochettino’s assistants Jesus Perez and Miguel D’Agostino are set to take charge of the squad for today’s league encounter. “Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has tested positive for Sars-Cov2 after a PCR test. He will now be in isolation and follow the appropriate medical advice,” the club said.
Pochettino, who was appointed earlier this month and replaced sacked German manager Thomas Tuchel, claimed his first piece of silverware in only his third game in charge when PSG won the French Super Cup on Wednesday. Defending league champions PSG are a point behind leaders Olympique Lyonnais at the halfway stage of the season. Three PSG players had already tested positive for the virus in the last week — Brazilian Rafinha, German player Thilo Kehrer and French youth international Colin Dagba.
PSG are fresh from beating Marseille 2-1 in Lens in midweek to win the Champions Trophy, the traditional curtain-raiser to the French season moved to the middle of winter as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on football. PSG have claimed back-to-back wins under Pochettino after drawing at Saint-Etienne in his first game at the helm. The return of Neymar as a substitute after a month out was significant, as the world’s most expensive player came off the bench to score a crucial late penalty against Marseille.
They are minor changes and it remains to be seen how PSG shape up by the time their Champions League last 16, first leg against Barcelona comes around in mid-February. In the meantime Neymar could now start today in Angers as PSG look to pile the pressure on Lyon, who are a point better off than both the capital side and Lille in third. With Lyon not playing Metz until tomorrow, a win for Paris will take them back to top of the table, at least for one night.
Mauro Icardi, is the player to watch this weekend. Icardi had played five minutes in three months before coming off the bench to score for PSG as they beat Brest 3-0 last weekend.
That earned him a start in midweek against Marseille, when he scored the opener, crashed a shot off the bar and then won the decisive late penalty converted by Neymar. The Argentine looked overweight and sluggish for much of 2020 and spent most of the first half of this season injured, or sidelined after a positive coronavirus test. Now he has a new look off the pitch, sporting a beret everywhere he goes, and on the field he suddenly looks sharp again and ready to fight with Moise Kean for a place up front.
Lorient’s Dijon game cancelled due to
Covid-19 cluster forces
Meanwhile, relegation threatened Lorient’s home game against fellow Ligue 1 strugglers Dijon was cancelled yesterday after a Covid-19 outbreak in the Breton side. The postponement of tomorrow’s game is the first in Ligue 1 since Marseille’s meeting with Nice on November 17 was called off.
Under protocols agreed at the beginning of September, matches are postponed if a team does not have 20 players with negative tests available. Lorient also confirmed that their training centre would close for a minimum of 10 days after positive tests from youth players and management.
There are fears that the virus may have spread after the Lorient youngsters played a recent friendly against Nantes. Lorient sit 19th in Ligue 1, are winless in five two and are points and one place behind Dijon.
Fixtures (Kick-offs GMT)
Today: Marseille v Nimes (1600), Angers v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)
Tomorrow: Brest v Rennes (1200), Lorient v Dijon, Nantes v Lens, Nice v Bordeaux, Strasbourg v Saint-Etienne (all 1400), Lille v Reims (1600), Lyon v Metz (2000)
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