The return of the Champions League to the Parc des Princes was as bad as expected with PSG losing 0-1 to Bayern Munich and now having a foot and a half out of Europe. It was a lackluster performance by Paris Saint-Germain and Christophe Galtier had a lot to do with that.
PSG tried to play it safe, sat deep into their own half, waited for counter-attack chances that never really came up, and should be thankful that Bayern didn't go in for the full kill through the first leg of the Round of 16. Had that been the case, Paris might have witnessed a massacre on Tuesday.
The coach of PSG, Christophe Galtier, addressed the media after the match between his dull PSG and a properly coached Bayern Munich in his post-game press conference. Here are the most interesting thoughts he shared.
How do you analyze this defeat?
"We had a difficult first 60 minutes of play against a team that stripped us of possession. Bayern came to pressure us high, and we expected it since we didn't have much depth and verticality. We had a very difficult hour of play, and we could have had more liveliness on the flanks but Achraf Hakimi was quickly banged up. and played injured."
"Afterward, it was about timing. We allowed a goal while we were making some changes. We had 25 or 30 interesting minutes with speed and connections between everyone, the contribution of Kylian (off the bench), the relays with Neymar and Messi, and the participation of Nuno Mendes... Marquinhos also gritted his teeth to hold on when he was also a little banged up. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough.
Knowing what happened, would you have used the players that finished the match instead of those who started as your starting XI?
"The team that finished the match is the one we use normally. We play like that, with people inside and verticality. The squad is very weak and thin, between those who were not available (injured) or who played tired, like Hakimi or Marquinhos. If everyone had been available, we would have had another face and another approach."
Do the last twenty minutes give hope to PSG for qualification through the second leg? What about Hakimi's substitution?
"Regarding Hakimi, he's a very important player and we feel his absence. We managed his return as well as possible after a very tough World Cup, but he could not start in Monaco and he had muscle discomfort very quickly (on Tuesday). I don't know if he has a serious injury."
"Yes, there is hope for qualifying. The return match is in three weeks. I hope that we will have some players back available, we will see. It is a home-and-home matchup. Tonight, there is no team qualified or eliminated."
"We had a discussion after the match, and I insisted on the possibility of qualifying. I hope to have the full squad available for the second leg, but we'll need to keep rotating as there is already a very important game against Lille on Sunday. Winning at Bayern can lead to penalties or qualification."
Paris ran less than Bayern. Is this a known issue?
"Yes, we have identified that problem. You can't change player stats and how they play just like that. Most of the PSG players ask for the ball at their feet, that's their style--not to mention Neymar and Messi. This means that you have to find depth and verticality with Kylian or Nuno Mendes. This (low) volume of runs and sprints is nothing new, as it is a characteristic of our players this season. So..."
What did you think of the communion between all the players and the Ultras at the end?
"Our supporters were very good throughout the game. There are still great matchups ahead, the season is still long. We must keep the hope of qualifying."