Hard to believe that two semi-finalists of the last Champions League faced each other, Tuesday, November 24, on the lawn of the Parc des Princes. The Parisian coach, Thomas Tuchel, had announced “a final” to his men. Facing RB Leipzig, Paris-Saint-Germain followed the instructions: “A final cannot be played, it is won”, wants the adage and Paris won (1-0). And Paris did not play.
“We needed a victory and we have a victory”, confined himself to answering the German technician after the meeting at the microphone of RMC Sport, dodging questions about the game developed, an hour and a half during by his flock. “I will retain my heart, my solidarity, the desire to stay together because we are in a difficult situation. “ Back to the wall, before the meeting – a defeat against the Saxons would have jeopardized their desire to qualify for the round of 16 of the competition – the Parisians had to win first and foremost.
In the hushed – if not icy – atmosphere of the confined Parc des Princes, PSG has never shown other intentions than those displayed by its coach. Despite the return of the soloists Neymar and Mbappé at the forefront of the attack, the teammates of captain Marquinhos, for once aligned in central defense, spent the game bowing down in the face of the Lipsian offensives. Monopolizing the ball, the teammates of French Dayot Upamecano nevertheless offered pale Parisians a first ammunition, after ten minutes of play. Unbalanced by Sabitzer in the penalty area, Angel Di Maria saw the Dutch referee award him a generous penalty.
During the first leg, in Leipzig, the Argentinian had not managed to shelter PSG in a similar situation; Tuesday, Neymar did not tremble when deceiving Gulacsi (1-0, 11e). Back after weeks of absence, the Brazilian striker agreed with his coach, who announced the color on Monday, in a press conference: ” Is [Neymar] is in the best physical condition? No, but he can handle matches like that physically and mentally. He absolutely needs to play, he has the ability, the confidence and the experience. “ For the rest, the Parisian star did not shine, multiplying the bad choices, moaning and struggling to get his team out of the Leipzig pressing.
“The most important thing was the victory”
Without the awkwardness of Forsberg, on several occasions, and the errors of the Germans in the last gesture, PSG would not have kept their lead at the break, chasing the ball (37.2% possession in the first period). Solidarity, failing to shine, the PSG players have not broken. “In difficult times, we manage to stick together and do a good job, greeted Marquinhos after the meeting at the microphone of the broadcaster. People don’t know everything that’s going on in the club: pain, injuries. We weren’t at our best. But the most important thing was the victory. “
In August, Paris had roughed up Leipzig, carried by the triplet Di Maria, Mbappé and Neymar (3-0), to reach the final of the Champions League. In view of the draft presented by the same trio on Tuesday, the dreams of a Lisbon summer night seem to have flown for Parisians. And despite the injuries and departures – starting with captain Thiago Silva – everyone will have to wonder as the Parisian players seem to have regressed. During the second half, Thomas Tuchel tried to communicate with his players, replacing Herrera, too low, and urging Neymar to participate more in the collective game. But like the Brazilian, not seeming to understand the instructions of his coach, PSG wandered on the meadow.
Backed up in his camp, reinforced in defense by a change in tactics, Paris trembled to the end, not releasing his second shot of the game until in added time. But Paris held out until the end of six minutes of added time, and poorly fulfilled its mission.
“I know very well that more is expected of us, but if we had put out a great performance without winning, what would we have said? The challenge was to win. We played badly, but we won ”, concluded Thomas Tuchel. Not sure that the recipe is enough to win it to Manchester United in a week. Paris has been awarded a week of respite, but the road for PSG to the European peaks, to which it aspires, remains long. And the club of the capital is not immune to an untimely exit from the road in Mancunian lands.