PSG will travel to play Auxerre on the road for MD36 of the Ligue 1 season trying to win a historic 11th Ligue 1 title away from the Parc des Princes. They will need to earn more points than second-place Lens, and they will have to do it knowing all other results as this game will take place in the final slate of the weekend, on Sunday evening.
The Parisian players will be, once more, accompanied by their beloved ultras in the shape of the Collectif Ultras Paris after the CUP won their battle with the PSG board and ended their strike this past midweek, making their return to all matches played by PSG teams in multiple sports from this week on, including football and handball.
Last weekend marked the return of Lionel Messi to the pitch of the Parc des Princes to play his second-to-last home game at PSG. He will have another chance in the final matchday of the season, and two more this and next weekend as PSG enters a back-to-back set of games on the road next.
PSG can seal the Ligue 1 title this Sunday if they earn more points than Lens, which will play before the Parisian on Sunday. If they only match Lens' result later on the evening, though, the celebrations of a historic 11th Ligue 1 triumph will have to be delayed by PSG for at least one more week.
Coach Galtier attended the pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.
Here are some of the most interesting nuggets ahead of the match against Auxerre scheduled for Sunday as PSG will go on the road for the first leg of a back-to-back set of away games for MD36 of the Ligue 1 season.
What does the extension of Marquinhos, who will be Parisian until 2028, represent?
"This is very good news for the club, the coach, and the fans. Marquinhos is an example, he arrived at 19, is finishing his ninth season, he is one of the best defenders in the world. It has been ubiquitous for ten years. This is very good news for the competitiveness of the club. And for Marqui, it's a sign of reliability."
How did you take not being nominated for Best Manager of the Season by your peers at the UNFP Trophies? How do you explain it?
"There is no explanation to be offered. There is a vote, and it must be respected. I also voted and I think that the five who have been nominated (Franck Haise, Paulo Fonseca, Pascal Gastien, Philippe Montanier, and Igor Tudor) deserve to be there. I had no particular reaction. It's part of a voting process that we have to respect."
With the return of good results, is the atmosphere better than in recent weeks?
"I quickly felt after Lorient (1-3 loss) a big reaction from everyone. The fact of having been able to bounce back and win at Troyes (3-1) and Ajaccio (5-0) allowed the pressure to be released a little. The players have been very serious in their work. We have a very important match; we are approaching the end of the championship. Do not count on Lens to drop points. You have to do the work and perform well. Auxerre is fighting and has a chance to hold on and avoid relegation. They are undefeated in the last seven home games, it will be a high-stakes meeting with one team fighting for the maintenance and another for the title."
How do you rate the progress of Donnarumma this season?
"He is a great professional, a good boy who is above all very well educated. He is improving in reading the game. He is decisive on his line where he takes up a lot of space, and he makes a lot of reflex saves. It takes more leadership by directing its defense well. But he must be even more aggressive in certain situations, for example not admitting to being able to take a goal when we are leading 3-0 or when we play stoppage time in a match which we have dominated. He needs to be more aggressive towards himself and his defenders to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world."
Do you regret not being able to use the MNM more this season?
"When you have these players--Leo, Kylian, and Ney--it is an objective from the start of the season to be able to associate and put them together. Unfortunately in this season where a World Cup was placed in the middle of it, the injuries they suffered--in particular Ney's serious one--meant that we could not take advantage of it. It's what it is. Each time they have been on the pitch, they have performed very well and we had a very interesting attacking game on those occasions. But that's part of the vagaries of a season. The regret is not having had this attacking trio in the decisive matches."
Will you use other young players at Auxerre this Sunday?
"Regarding young players, that's often a subject of discussion and I understand it because I know the quality of the training facilities and developmental staff at Paris Saint-Germain. You can see it across Europe, a lot of young trained Parisians performing elsewhere. I would like to point out that young players have been integrated into the sessions since the start of the season. They train and progress at their own pace. The young players have played. Warren Zaire-Emery has played and still plays. He wasn't even 17 when he started his first game. We can also talk about El Chadaille Bitshiabu. From there to integrating it into each match… We are at PSG with an obligation to get results. Even when the results are going well, we analyze the game, but there is always an obligation to play well. Each young player has their own pace of growth and improvement, but I have the feeling that you (the media) have forgotten that a young player (WZE) under 17 has started in the Champions League. That El Chadaille also played. We are at the end of the season and we think the matches will be easy, but we are not champions yet. We have to get the points, and there is the obligation of earning good results."
How do you rate Hugo Ekitike's latest performances?
"Hugo arrived late, but I integrated him when he showed me in the training sessions that he was there (in terms of form/level). He had to overtake a mental blow, of course, because it was difficult for him at first. By working, watching what he was doing in the sessions, I am satisfied with what he is doing. I think it's also good to have a second real attacker to free Leo in the game. And that he can have other possibilities than Kylian in the attacking animation. But it is above all Hugo's work that has made him start the last two games. It is most likely to start on Sunday."
Can you give us an update on Marco Verratti's injury?
"He took a hit in the knee. He trained individually today. It seems to be going much better, we'll take stock tomorrow. We are hopeful that he can be with us in Auxerre. He is an important player. When he's not there, it shows and it feels in the game. I find the criticisms of Marco quite harsh compared to what he does on the pitch."
Bernardo Silva has made the rumor mill of late. Can you tell us about his game having coached him at Monaco?
"He's a Manchester City player first and foremost. He's a player I discovered when he arrived in Monaco when Luis Campos recruited him. He's obviously an interesting player, but I'll say it again: he's a Manchester City player."