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Champions League: without obsession but with ambition, PSG takes on Europe

“There are too many expectations around the Champions League.

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Champions League: without obsession but with ambition, PSG takes on Europe

“There are too many expectations around the Champions League.” Signed Nasser Al-Khelaïfi at the beginning of July. Eager to bring PSG into a “new era”, the Qatari president sought to minimize the pressure weighing on the shoulders of his group on the European scene. Balancing exercise. “I never said we had to win the Champions League with Luis Enrique. I was very clear: what I want is for us to play good football,” he explained again, with a touch of bad faith when we remember the objectives displayed when taking the decision. control of QSI, in 2011. “We have ambition but with logic, we have plenty of time to work, the lights are green, we don't worry about immediate results. This is the new era of PSG. The media put it in our heads that we had to win the C1, but everyone wants to win, me too. We need to build the foundations first,” he continued.

A speech of common sense despite everything, although a little late. However, it fits well, knowing that the club carried out a major facelift during the off-season. Exit Leo Messi, Neymar and other Marco Verratti. New training center, new policy, 11 new faces in the locker room and of course, a new coach, who arrives with strong ideas of play and a thousand miles from what we could see in recent years in Paris, notably last season under Christophe Galtier. “I love working with a coach like that, who has a lot of desire and things to bring to the locker room,” smiles Marquinhos before starting a new campaign in C1, this Tuesday (9 p.m., Canal), against the vice-presidents. German champions Borussia Dortmund. A reunion between the two clubs after the 2020 double-header, in the round of 16. PSG had punched their ticket for the Final 8 in a stadium that was empty inside and boiling outside, due to covid. “The two teams have changed a lot since that,” notes the Parisian captain, saying he is “very proud to have been able to give pleasure to (their) supporters in this context”, with the country going into general confinement.

A few weeks later, the Rouge et Bleu reached the C1 final in Lisbon. The following year, they reached the semi-finals. All before returning to their dirty habits of previous years, taking the door from the 8th in 2021 and 2022. “The Champions League is neither an obsession nor a pressure”, nevertheless swears Marqui, who “knows the way » to go “all the way to the top”. To see if the presidential speech really makes it possible to reduce the pressure around a club that is oversized for national games and which is therefore only tested in Europe. On paper, this sounds like a mission impossible. “When a club is obsessed, it’s never a good sign. You have to be excited, have hopes and ambition. But being obsessed doesn't do anything good, whatever the field,” insists Luis Enrique, who aims to “win all competitions, that's the club's goal.”

The first weeks of the season, however, suggest that this PSG still has room to look Manchester City, Bayern and the other favorites in C1 in the eye, like the excitement displayed against Nice on Friday (2-3 ). Moreover, the Rouge et Bleu will already have to come out of a “very difficult group”, says Marquinhos, with Dortmund, Newcastle and Milan. Two successes (Lens, Lyon), two draws (Lorient, Toulouse) and one defeat (Nice) on the clock for Kylian Mbappé and company. Which Mbappé is more essential than ever, with seven of the ten Parisian goals since the restart after being sidelined. “We didn’t start the season very well. But it has always been like that in my previous clubs. There is a lot of information to pass on, game concepts that the players must assimilate,” notes “Lucho”, rejoicing to see his team “very receptive”. “There will be good football and results,” he announces, he who still has to find the right balance between his appetite for the game of possession and the qualities of a group designed to hurt in transition, Mbappé in head but not only.

Paris Saint-Germain also raises a certain number of questions before facing a BVB still groggy after the loss of the German championship title on the last day last season and the departure of crack Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid this summer . From the physical fragility of some (Dembélé, Hernandez, Mendes, etc.) to the slowness of the hinge, including the style of play and the obvious lack of genius creators, particularly in the middle, there is plenty to do. . “I am very happy with my midfielder,” said Luis Enrique on this last point. Promised sworn ?

Good news ? Compared to Friday, PSG will recover Marquinhos, who will make us forget the slowness of Milan Skriniar, and Manuel Ugarte, already essential in midfield. “He is important because he brings balance to the team,” underlines Luis Enrique. “To win the Champions League, you need a great team, not just 11 players but 22 or 23. But in the end, there is only one club that will win the trophy,” slips the one who guided Barça until the supreme coronation in 2015. It remains to be seen which one. One thing is certain: to dream, PSG will have to show a different face than that of Friday. “To concede three goals at home is not possible... I hope that this will serve as a lesson for us,” said Lucas Hernandez after this disappointment against the Aiglons. Message received ?

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