The Champions League has already beaten the managers of Paris Saint-Germain. Laurent Blanc was sacked for losing in the quarterfinals against a weak team from Manchester City in 2016. Unai Emery never recovered from his collapse in Barcelona the following year. If PSG lost to Liverpool on Wednesday night and was eliminated in the group stage, it is impossible to see how Thomas Tuchel could have survived.
But they won 2 to 1 and, in the joy that followed, the players having danced long after the end of the match, it was possible to feel a change, or at least the beginning of something. For the first time in more than a year, PSG had beaten another European top. This is the result that makes it possible to obtain a management position rather than breaking it. And Tuchel could not hide his pride and pleasure at the post-match press conference.
What really comes out of Tuchel's comments is the feeling that PSG is starting from scratch under his orders. Under Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc or Unai Emery, we never felt that the club was making much progress. The stories were the same because they tried and failed to reach the Champions League semi-finals, which they still did not do.
But Tuchel's great success was to rephrase it as a young team with a mission. He said beforehand that his experience was far superior to that of PSG, which is technically true, but he complains of being strange when he has on the ground Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel di Maria and Gianluigi Buffon. And yet, Tuchel then spoke as if his team had proven something for the first time, and had made a mental breakthrough long overdue.
"It was our last opportunity to show that we could fight," said Tuchel in a specific and improved French during his press conference. "Liverpool has an incredible mentality and that is why it was necessary to show that we are able to play and fight against this team. It was our last chance to really show that we could play a big game against a big team. It was a big step forward for us.
Jurgen Klopp complained about PSG's acting game, but he was impressed by their performance and tactical courage by Tuchel. "When you saw the line-up, the approach they chose was a total risk. Especially in the beginning, they tried anything, provided their legs carried them. And with the quality that they have, it was pretty intense to handle. "
This meant in practice a 4-4-2 with Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani in front, while Neymar and Angel di Maria ranged themselves in the vast areas. Marquinhos and Marco Verratti were sitting in front of the defense to protect them. And after so many critics that they could not play with the right intensity to defeat a serious opposition, they tore Liverpool apart in the first half, in a way that made PSG teams do not play often.
Even more impressive was the two – way relationship between the team and the crowd, each feeding on the energy of the other, each player winning them whenever he had available. a second free. It's the same thing in most big clubs, but at PSG, everything is so much in procession that this emotion has appeared new in itself. Tuchel is certainly feasting too.
The challenge now, if the PSG succeeds, is to reproduce the same intensity in the last 16 games. Last year, they lost foot in two games against Real Madrid, but if they play this way in February, no one will want to come here. Not even champions back to back. Tuchel finally lit a flame here and now, he must keep it on. "We have to keep that spirit," he said. "It's good to create a new atmosphere, a new culture. We have not had experience and now we feel something. "
Maybe they will lose again in the last 16 finals or quarterfinals, as they always did in the days of Qatar. But if they do not, and this is the year they finally qualify for the serious stages, we will remember tonight against Liverpool as the evening when the penny finally fell.
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