Two months after the lost final (1-0) against Bayern Munich, PSG launches Tuesday evening (9 p.m.) its new Champions League campaign against Manchester United at the Parc des Princes. The opportunity for Thomas Tuchel to take stock at a press conference on the challenges of this first European meeting.
What is the news of your troops?
THOMAS TUCHEL. Missing Verratti, Icardi, Paredes, Kherer and Bernat, who are not available. Against Manchester, it’s not a good memory. We had a great result at Old Trafford ( Editor’s note: 0-2 victory ) but it didn’t end well for us ( Editor’s note: 1-3 defeat with a penalty conceded at the last minute ). A lot of things have changed, we had an extraordinary season. It gave us a lot of confidence. The challenge is not to think about two years ago and to prove our qualities and we are able to overcome this difficult group. We start with 0 points, 0 goals. And we must return to victory.
Edinson Cavani returns to the Park in the Manchester jersey. Looking back, are you a little disappointed with his choice not to play Final 8 with Paris?
I wanted us to arrive in Portugal with the whole group. He was decisive against Dortmund. I was a little sad but he was not the only one in the group. But the situation was complicated with the Covid. But that does not change anything at the meeting. He remains the top scorer for PSG (200 goals in 301 games), a great personality, a great player who has written the history of our club. It’s gonna be weird that he’s playing for another club. But it is not him alone against us. It’s going to be complicated because it’s difficult to defend on him and he has the ability to make the difference.
VIDEO. Cavani after his 200th goal for PSG: “It’s a wonderful moment for me”
What do you think of his state of mind and can he win over Manchester?
Cavani has a great personality, he is really polite, almost shy. He is a player who works a lot, is there from the 1st to the last minute in training. We can really count on him, he lives to play and to score. He’s one of the best attackers. He deserves the recognition of the fans, I hope he gets the chance to show it in Manchester. But not necessarily tomorrow (smile).
Do you think your team is stronger than last season?
Honestly I don’t know, it’s difficult. We had a super strong team last season. The competition begins, we have to show the same things. Last year’s Champions League is over. The question is not whether we are stronger or not.
How do you see Manchester? What will be the keys to the match?
Manchester has changed a lot because there are new players and the others have gained experience. Pogba remains a key player, one of the most talented in the world in the middle. It’s a key to stop him, the other is Bruno Fernandez who gives a lot of passes, they also have three super fast attackers. They are one of the best teams in Europe in the offensive transition. We want to take the ball, play with a lot of possession and defend our style. We have to do a good counter-pressing to stop their counterattack. Pogba and Fernandez are the keys. They are also strong on set pieces.
Presnel Kimpembe has once again become one of the best central defenders in Europe. Is it not linked to the confrontation against Manchester two years ago and the penalty it causes and which eliminates Paris?
I have been very happy with Presko for a long time. He’s very serious, at a super level. With me, he’s always been like that in the big Champions League or Ligue 1. He sometimes had problems with concentration. But since the post-containment recovery, the Cup finals and then in Portugal, his performances have been extraordinary. I am very happy. The challenge is that it stays at that level. He has always brought an extraordinary level to the team, is very courageous, plays aggressively. And he’s always there with a smile, looking to improve with every workout. He changed details and became super reliable.
Manchester concedes a lot of goals. Are not the other keys to insist on the central defense of MU which appears quite heavy?
As always, we want to put pressure on the last row, try to score. We will always focus on this phase, accelerate our game with Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappé. We are still able to score. We have regained the pace, the confidence… In Champions League matches, we are a very dangerous team. We want to score, but as always at this level, it’s the most difficult to create chances and score.
Two months after the final against Bayern Munich, are PSG approaching this new campaign with the status of favorite?
Whether I tell you yes or no it will not change the fact that we have to prove again and again… The challenge is not to think about this last final, even if our journey has been extraordinary. It’s from the past. The challenge for me now is to recreate an atmosphere, a tight-knit group capable of playing as a team. A new challenge begins. The Champions League is the toughest competition in the world. The challenge is not to wonder if we are stronger, but to show it.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr