After the Nice stage, the Parisian coach can now fully turn to the Barcelona pass.
“Now we can no longer say that we are not going to talk about Barcelona,” smiles Mauricio Pochettino, who has so far refused to mention the Champions League and this double confrontation against Barça. After the victory against Nice (2-1) on Saturday, during the 25th day of the French championship, there is indeed no more excuse: Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and company will receive the Parisians next Tuesday. “The team will be ready,” promises the Argentine coach. It remains to be seen which one. We obviously know that Neymar and Angel Di Maria will not be in the game. “It’s a shame for football in general. Me, I pay my ticket to go see players like that ”, slips the Nice coach Adrian Ursea.
“It’s better if everyone is there, but we will have no excuse”
Too bad for football, and especially a pity for Paris, which has to deal with an all but perfect Barça but in clear regain of form in recent weeks and a large winner on Saturday night against Alaves (5-1) without two of its most creative players. “We are going to face a very good team, Barcelona is Barcelona, summarizes Pochettino, at the microphone of Canal+. We’re going to try to win, it’s in our mindset. There are some important players missing, but we have a team we have to trust. It’s obviously better if everyone is there. But we will have no excuse. ” And to add, when it is submitted to him that the club of the capital has never won a European double-confrontation without Neymar Jr since the transfer of the latter in the summer of 2017: “It is another obstacle to overcome and we will try to make this statistic lie. ”
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It would be easier, or at least less complicated, with Marco Verratti. Without Neymar, Pochettino has used him in a playmaker position since his arrival in Paris at the start of the year. And that’s where we should find the Italian at Camp Nou. At least if he’s able to play… “He trained (Saturday). He still has a little embarrassment compared to the blow received in Marseille (last Sunday). We will see how it evolves “, indicates the former coach of Espanyol, leaving the suspense hovering. With or without the little Owl, it would obviously not be the same story. Even if Kylian Mbappé has regained his playing legs. Even if Moise Kean, scorer on Wednesday in Caen (1-0 victory) and again on Saturday in Nice after a convincing performance, represents a real option to occupy the right flank, while Pablo Sarabia is not particularly fit. Even if Mauro Icardi is in all the right places at the moment. Even if Leo Paredes has taken on a new dimension since the arrival of Pochettino.
Three days to find the miracle formula
“As soon as we get back to the hotel, we will discuss the state of the players and we will establish the strategy,” Pochettino explains at a press conference. No doubt he already has his little idea about the line-up he will line up at Camp Nou. An eleven in which we will certainly find Keylor Navas, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Paredes and Mbappé. In front, Icardi arises as a potential starter and Kean again scored points on Saturday. In recovery, we can imagine that “Gana” Gueye, precious Saturday, will be privileged to Danilo Pereira and Ander Herrera.
“Find a better balance to create offensive options”
Layvin Kurzawa and Alessandro Florenzi for their part start with a head start on the sides, even if it was Thilo Kehrer who started against Nice. Moreover, Pochettino did not fail to point out that it is the German who centers on the first Parisian goal, adding that his initial idea was to “find a better defensive balance. Sometimes you can try to find a better balance and that allows you to create offensive options. ” Clearly, it is not necessarily by stacking players labeled offensive that we play better ball. The priority is balance. And that’s what the 48-year-old technician will be looking for to overthrow Ronald Koeman’s troops. “As in Tottenham, we aim to find a team capable of respecting common playing principles while being able to be flexible and evolve in different offensive and defensive organizations,” explains the Argentine coach. Against Nice, Paris also played in 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.
Thus, we can imagine a little surprise Tuesday in the starting XI, for example with a “defensive” side, as Thomas Tuchel did in Manchester (3-1 victory), by aligning Abdou Diallo on the left, or by adding a recovering midfielder instead of a striker pure juice. In any case, the quest for balance will be a priority in the mind of the new Parisian coach, in place for a month and a half.
Recovery and video
He will not have that much time to prepare for this shock on the ground before taking the road to Spain on Monday. On the menu between now and Tuesday evening? “Mental and physical” recovery, and video. For the rest, we must not forget that there is a return match on March 10. Probably with Di Maria, a Verratti in great shape. And a few minutes from Neymar? “We are a great team, we have a lot of great players, experienced players, hammers Moise Kean, on C+. It won’t be easy. But we will give everything, even for those who do not have the chance to play. ” It is at this price that the PSG will be able to continue to “dream bigger” for the end of the season, and to a new epic until the final. Otherwise, it would be a new exit from the track at the stage of the knockout stages of the “Champions’”, the fourth in five years.
The likely Parisian 11 in Barcelona :
Navas – Florenzi (or Kehrer), Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa – Paredes, Gueye – Kean, Verratti, Mbappé – Icardi