Rangers v Celtic - Cinch Scottish Premiership
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Four goals, 23 shots, 24 fouls and three Americans featured. The Old Firm this morning did not disappoint as Celtic maintained their nine-point advantage at the top of the Scottish Premiership with their first draw of the season away at Rangers. They needed an 88th-minute equalizer from Kyogo Furuhashi to seal a point. 

Welcome to the first Golazo Starting XI newsletter of 2023! I'm Roger Gonzalez, hoping you and yours are off to a positive start in the new year. Do you know who isn't off to a great start? Mighty Paris Saint-Germain. 

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Today's notable games:

⚽  The Forward Line

PSG need more than just Messi back

CBS Sports Golazo

The French giants were brushed aside rather easily on Sunday against second-place Lens in Ligue 1 action, raising concerns as to whether this star-studded team really has what it takes to contend. They'll be getting some help soon, but is it enough to quell any concerns?

They needed a late penalty just to beat Strasbourg last week, and the 3-1 defeat to Lens was alarming for a whole bunch of reasons, raising the question as to whether they truly are contenders on the European stage or simply pretenders. Sure, you always have a chance with a guy like Kylian Mbappe, and there is reason for massive optimism in the attack. Neymar will be back from suspension, and Lionel Messi is nearly back after his World Cup title celebrations back in his native Argentina

But the real concern is this defense, which has conceded in eight of the past nine games in all competitions. The center back situation is a dire one at the moment. Captain Marquinho has looked far from his usual self since returning from the World Cup with Brazil, Sergio Ramos was embarrassed by Lois Openda and is starting to look like he's breaking down as rumors on a move to Saudi Arabia bubble up, and Presnel Kimpembe remains injured. 

With the January transfer window now open, it feels like the time a move or two will be needed to give this team the depth required to truly contend. All of this is amplified by the fact that the team did not properly address the center back position in the offseason. Look at the big-money moves they made over the summer:

  • Midfielder Vitinha (Porto) for €44 million
  • Left-back Nuno Mendes (Sporting) for $40.5 million
  • Midfielder Fabian Ruiz (Napoli) for $24.5 million
  • Midfielder Carlos Soler (Valencia) for $19 million
  • Midfielder Renato Sanches (Lille) for $16 million
  • Right-back Nordi Mukiele (RB Leipzig) for $12.8 million

Not one center back. If the club thought it was set at the most important defensive position, it was wrong. Here's Jonathan Johnson with more on the Parisien wake-up call on Sunday:

  • Jonathan Johnson: "With 2023 just getting underway, PSG have a lot of work to do over the next month or so if they are to be ready to face Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. Lionel Messi will be returning to Paris this week after Argentina's FIFA World Cup success in Qatar and Christophe Galtier needs to get his star-studded team back into their pre-tournament break rhythm. The likes of Mbappe are expected to get some rest in the Coupe de France this coming week with third-tier Chateauroux away on Friday. Messi should make his return in that one before PSG return to full strength the following midweek in Ligue 1 against Angers SCO and it is at that point that Galtier really needs his players to knuckle down."

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

Have Spurs fallen off a cliff?

New year, same Tottenham? An alarming 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa on Sunday has put massive pressure on Antonio Conte. It seems like everybody's expectations were higher except his, calling the claims of Spurs being title contenders "crazy." One win in the past four Premier League games has seen the team fall from the top four with resurgent Manchester United taking their place. They now have a couple of games to try and get back on track (Crystal Palace on Wednesday and Portsmouth in the FA Cup on Saturday). 

Those games will be crucial because the schedule after that is just brutal:

  • Jan. 15: at Premier League leaders and rivals Arsenal.
  • Jan. 19: at home vs. second-place Manchester City.
  • Jan 23: at home vs. an in-form Fulham.
  • Feb. 5: at Manchester City.

Our James Benge was at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday for the match, and his outlook for the team is quite dire

  • James Benge: "Meek off the ball, utterly lacking in ideas with it: this was as bad as Tottenham have been since they appointed Antonio Conte. Supporters in the South Stand renewed their calls for chairman Daniel Levy to go. Spurs' head coach might be relieved his boss is there to take the flack. In their last 10 Premier League games, 13 points have been accrued, a streak that has taken them from a point off first to two off fourth. It has been thrilling, riven with comebacks and late goals, but it has been a while since Conte's side have been effective. Since the start of October, they have had a goal difference of minus three, have registered slightly fewer non-penalty expected goals (xG) than they have given up and have allowed opponents exactly as many shots as the 134 they have taken. In almost every respect they are playing like a team that belongs firmly in the middle of the Premier League pack. They are nothing like the side who pipped Arsenal to fourth last season. Conte insists they shouldn't be."

More from Benge here

Let's get to some more links:

💰  The Back Line

Best bet

Let's break down the only Premier League game on the day. Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Liverpool vs. Brentford 
    💰 THE PICK: Both teams to score (-145). Brentford are averaging two goals per game in their last three contests (including a friendly vs. Wolfsburg), but the attack has been efficient, putting 11 of their last 18 shots on goal. Liverpool typically score every game and have conceded in their last seven games against English opposition.