After Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-3 draw against AS Monaco at the Parc des Princes, manager Thomas Tuchel fielded questions about his team’s ability to play in their new 4-4-2 formation that lines up Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappé, and Neymar Jr. at the same time.
During his post-match interview with Canal+ (via Culture PSG), Tuchel was very animated when asked if it’s possible to be so attack-minded against good teams.
“We won 6-0 against a team from the 6th division then 6-1 against a team from AS Saint-Étienne with 10 men. Afterwards, you asked me if we were going to play like that, if I had found my structure and if it was going to be the one against Dortmund. And who said it doesn’t work like that? Was it me or you? And now it’s up to me to say that I’m not sure or something like that. I said I always think about it, I always said it and it’s the same today. I think after each game. Each match. When we win 6-0, everyone said to me, ‘Ah you found…’. You asked me the question before the match, talking to me about a typical team. But it doesn’t work like that! I always say the same thing. Now that we’ve done 3-3, suddenly, ‘oh there are problems in 4-4-2.”
The German tactician was then asked if the attacking players need to track back and defend more.
“But it doesn’t work like that! We will analyze the match, as every time. The problem is that we win 8 times and you always say ‘he found, he found’ and you forget that we did the same in 4-3-3. But we draw 3-3 and the first question is ‘oh 4-4-2’…We only think about tactical things, what we do with our principles. If we play in 4-4-2, we have to pay attention to this or that thing, do some back-pressing, protect ourselves. If we play in 4-3-3, we have to do something else, to create opportunities or to protect ourselves. That’s how it is and we’re going to do it. It’s a 3-3 draw, OK, we had great chances with Ney and Kylian to win.”
If if you don’t speak French, if you watch the video of the interview you can see just how fed up he is with the constant formation questions.
— Canal Football Club (@CanalFootClub) January 12, 2020
While clearly frustrated with the media, Tuchel is not blind to his team’s deficiencies as he described in his post-match comments captured by Le Parisien.
“We have given too many spaces, that is clear. We had opportunities, they had opportunities. If we attack, we have to protect spaces. We did not do it precisely. They have the quality of finding solutions under pressure. If you lose easy balls in dangerous spaces, it is a problem with an opponent who knows how to make counterattacks. It’s the kind of game we needed to grow, progress, improve.”
From a media point of view, reporters want Tuchel to commit to the 4-4-2 leading up to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against Borussia Dortmund. Obviously, he’s not going to do that but that’s not going to stop them from asking.
From Tuchel’s point of view, he wants to see the formation enough times leading up to February 18 when PSG travels to Germany to see if it’s a formation he can risk on the biggest stage and ultimately where his future at PSG will be decided.
I’m all for Tuchel playing his best players and going with the 4-4-2 formation. However, when it becomes obvious that it’s not working, he needs to have a backup plan that can be deployed immediately and not in the 80th minute.
The good news for PSG is they play Monaco again on January 15 at the Stade Louis II and I’m hoping he runs out the same lineup and PSG wins 6-0. That should keep reporters quiet for a bit.
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