Angel Di Maria has witnessed Paris Saint-Germain’s recent failures in the UEFA Champions League and is uniquely positioned to speak about why it is that the French club hasn’t broken through in Europe’s most prestigious club competition.
The Argentine was brought on as a substitution in the 6-1 loss to FC Barcelona in 2017 where PSG crashed out of the Round of 16 after beating the Catalan club 4-0 at the Parc des Princes. The loss was so bad that it actually was given a name, La Remontada.
Last season, Di Maria was once again on the pitch—this time as a starter—as Manchester United came back from a 2-0 deficit after the first leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie and won 3-1 at the Parc.
That’s a lot of Champions League heartbreak for one player to take but unlike many others in the team, Di Maria knows what it’s like to hoist the big-eared trophy, which he did when he was a member of Real Madrid in the 2013-14 season.
In a recent interview with Tyc Sport (via Culture PSG), Di Maria explained what the Champions League means to PSG and why they have come up short so many times.
“The pressure is still there. The club has very high pretensions. They bring back the best players to be able to win it. This is something that the club desires with great anxiety. They want to get there as soon as possible, but it is a process, it is not easy.”
“Many coaches have passed. Sometimes you have to have a little patience, support a coach and the majority of players. Little by little, we can get through this phase, which eludes us. We always have a phenomenal first game and in the second we are a different team. The Champions League is the most beautiful thing, that’s what everyone wants to play. It’s very difficult. It is not because you have the best that you are going to win it. We also need a little luck and that is what we lack.”
And luck is what Di Maria believes PSG has lacked in previous years and the one thing that could help them finally achieve Champions League glory.
“It is obvious that the best players help to have more possibilities. Then you have to be lucky. We have the players. Afterward, you have to work hard, have the patience to go as far as possible and be able to win it. In Madrid, I was a minute away from losing the title. And for a [Sergio] Ramos header, we equalized and then we won by a wide score (4-1 against Atlético in 2014). There you realize that we were lucky. Sometimes it’s not just about having the best, it’s about being a little bit lucky.”
It’s really hard for manager Thomas Tuchel to work on “luck” on the training ground but PSG has suffered enough and hopefully, the football gods will shine positively upon Les Parisiens in Europe during the knockout phase.
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