The big day. Two months after the end of the group stage and the draw for the round of 16 of the Champions League, PSG hosts Real Sociedad this Wednesday (9 p.m.). Who better to talk about the Spanish team than one of its former coaches, Philippe Montanier? Also through Toulouse, Lens, Rennes and Valenciennes, the 59-year-old technician describes, for Le Figaro, a formation adept at “possession play, often in 4-3-3, with high pressing and quite strong commitment. The coaches come and go but this trademark remains,” he swears, he who officiated on the bench of the current seventh in the La Liga standings between 2011 and 2013 (82 matches).
Imanol Alguacil must nevertheless deal with several injuries and major uncertainty before challenging Paris, whose team remains in four matches without winning… or scoring, three 0-0s and a 0-1 defeat against neighbors Osasuna at the weekend. -last end (0-1), in the championship. The breakdown at the worst time, even if the quality of play is still there. Aihen Muñoz, Alvaro Odriozola, Carlos Fernández, Sheraldo Becker, Kieran Tierney, all injured, and Aritz Elustondo, suspended, remained in San Sebastian. Captain Mikel Oyarzabal made the trip with the rest of his comrades. It nonetheless remains uncertain. The Txuri-urdinak will nevertheless be able to count on talents like Ander Barrenetxea, Brais Méndez, the ex-Rennais Hamari Traoré, the naturalized Spanish Frenchman Robin Le Normand and the Japanese star Takefusa Kubo, extended on Monday until 2029.
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One thing is certain: Luis Enrique will not be surprised at all by this team. “He knows everything about Real and La Liga, this team will have no secrets from him and he already knows what he is going to do, I have no doubt,” guesses Montanier. La Real has less experience but Paris will have to remain wary because you don't come out first in your Champions League group ahead of Inter by magic. The San Sebastian players also beat Angel Di Maria's Benfica, who finished ahead of Paris last season, and the Austrians from Salzburg. All without losing once and conceding only two small goals!
And Montanier continued: “In my eyes, PSG will have to make a big difference in the first leg, at the Parc des Princes, to control the return. In Anoeta (40,000 places), they will be pushed around, with public pressure and a fairly strong commitment, it will be a fight. Paris doesn't like it... while Real loves it. With their high pressing, their aggressiveness, they have everything to hinder PSG. La Real is not flashy but it is serious and disciplined. It will also be interesting to see who wins possession as both teams will want to have the ball. One of the keys to this double confrontation will be played out there. The Basques, however, would do well to guard against any overconfidence in case they win the battle for possession. “Facing this PSG team, you are often most in danger when you have the ball,” as Brest coach Éric Roy recently noted.