Paris Saint-Germain returns to action on Friday evening as they take on Lille OSC at the Parc des Princes where a win would extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1.
This is the second time this season that PSG has had a Friday night game following an international break, something manager Thomas Tuchel made sure to bring up during his pre-match press conference.
In front of the media, Tuchel was asked about a number of topics, such as the status of Neymar and whether the German manager was upset that his star player was in Madrid for a tennis match earlier this week.
The match against Lille is a tricky one for Tuchel and PSG. Les Dogues come into the match in fifth place and are also competing in the UEFA Champions League. Despite losing Nicolas Pépé last summer, there is plenty of quality within their squad. Don’t forget, Lille defeated PSG last April 5-1.
Here is what Tuchel had to say about Lille, Neymar, Mbappé, and much more:
Can you tell us what the starting 11, or the squad will be for tomorrow?
So, the group will be without Marco Verratti, and Kylian was ill this week so he will train today with the team but I don’t know if he will be able to play tomorrow, because he had a fever, so I don’t know yet. You know very well that if you have a fever, you are not feeling really well, so we have to wait.
Is it important for you to play against Lille tomorrow after the international break and before the game against Real Madrid in the Champions League?
Yes, but I don’t like the words test preparation, because it means that we are facing Lille just to prepare for another game, and you know me very well and you know that I don’t like it because it is our challenge to always be focused and to show our qualities and our performance during every game. We can’t test or prepare for a game in the Champions League in such a way, but, on the other hand, we have to say that Lille is also a team that is playing in the Champions League right now. It is really hard to play against them. They are really strong, especially on the counter-attack. They are really fast. We really need to prepare this game, by being focused and patient in order to manage the counter-attacks and manage the game. So, yes, really be focused on this game.
After the break, it is always hard for us. It is the first time that we have the group, the full group on the pitch. For example, Edinson Cavani, Marquinhos, …It is the first time on the pitch, and we play on Friday night again after the international break. It is the second time. I don’t understand why. It is really not normal that we are playing two times in a row on Friday after the international break. We have to find a solution, as we did against Nice, and we need a good game tomorrow.
Last season you said that you like to put Neymar as a number 10. This year, your formation is 4-3-3 always. So, with Neymar coming back, what do you think? Neymar in the middle as a number 10 or 4-3-3?
Maybe we will do both. Against Bordeaux, Neymar played number nine with Pablo [Sarabia] and Angel [Di Maria] on both sides. Then we added Kylian instead of Pablo, so we can do both. We played 4-2-3-1 against Brest. It might also be possible with Neymar playing number 10 or on the left-wing if we play 4-3-3, he will be either number nine or on the left side, but I can’t say now.
During the international break, Thiago Silva said once again that he was really willing to stay in Paris and have his contract renewed. Have you talked to sporting director Leonardo about that?
Yes, Leonardo knows my life, knows my opinion I am the manager, so I hope that he has a role for Thiago because he is an incredible captain for the team. He is a leader. He is a role model for us in the locker room, on the pitch, and I’m really happy about it. He plays really amazingly while I’m here, and, since I have arrived, he always played in a superb way. He always plays for the team. For me, age is not an issue. I don’t think it is the more important thing. The more important thing is every day on the pitch and he is an incredible guy. He is really reliable. He is a little bit shy, maybe, but it is something I really like about him. He is extraordinary, and I really hope, and I’m sure that we have a great relationship, really tight, so do I think that PSG would be possible without Thiago? Today, no, I don’t and I can’t.
We understand it is good news that Neymar is returning. What will he bring to the team that was lacking at the beginning of the season?
Quality. Quality. Decisive actions. It is easy and hard at the same time but, if he is playing for us, we are really dangerous. He is a decisive player for us. He gives that to the team. It is really important if we want to keep winning.
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