The bright lights of the UEFA Champions League are back at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday with PSG facing Bayern Munich in the first league of the Round of 16.
Paris Saint-Germain are coming off a week to forget, perhaps their worst of the season to date with losses in a Coupe Classique last Wednesday at Marseille (2-1) and another in a Ligue 1 matchup at Monaco (3-1) last Saturday. PSG will be relieved to flip the "weekly" page and enter a blank slate, even if that means facing the German giants from Munich.
Coach Christophe Galtier attended the pre-match press conference on Monday evening in which he shared some exciting nuggets ahead of the matchup with Bayern Munich on Tuesday at the Parc des Princes. Here is what the manager said.
What are your hopes for tomorrow's game?
"The team lined up tomorrow will look nothing like the one that traveled to Monaco. My players are used to these big meetings, but we face a strong opponent. My players know how to raise their level of play, their standards, and their involvement, though."
How are you going through the current period from a personal point of view?
"When you are the coach of PSG and you lose two games in a row, it turns into a difficult situation to manage, even more so when there is an elimination against Olympique Marseille. I am in constant reflection and taking proper action. I stay very connected with my players, and I make sure to find the best formations/squads and the best associations for us to be successful. I put aside the pressure that there may be on me. The most important thing is the matchups we have ahead and to study them with my players so we find the way to prepare for these meetings."
How is Kylian Mbappe?
"Mbappe trained yesterday individually and today collectively. I didn't think he was going to practice yesterday. His post-training feedback is very positive. Will he appear on the pitch? We're not sure yet, we will revisit the situation with him tomorrow morning when we meet again (and make a decision). The first questions will be asked to Kylian, to see how he feels. There will be discussions with the medical staff. Kylian gave himself the best chance of being available, but we have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out how he feels. If he is on the gameday squad, then he will play. For how long? I don't know, but he won't make the squad only to remain on the sidelines."
Is Bayern the favorite for this Champions League Round of 16 matchup?
"No, it's 50-50. If we analyze all the results and the stats, we can say that Bayern are the favorite. But it's a Champions League game. At the end of the match, there will be no qualified team (after just the first leg), that's for sure. We know that Bayern had a little complicated period after the World Cup, but they performed well. This is not really our case, but we have a more complete and recovered/available squad than in previous matches."
Is it hard to manage players going through high-end emotions during the matches?
"You need to keep calm and serenity in those moments. When there is frustration, it has to come out. I've been leading this way for years, but these are totally different players. You have to listen to them, but they also have to listen to me. There was disappointment and that bred anger after our two defeats (last week). The players have to be able to release all this frustration (ahead of tomorrow's game)."
Will Vitinha be lined up as a no. 10 or do you plan to field another player there?
"For different reasons, with the sequence of matches and absences, I put players in roles and areas they are not used to handling. They accepted it. Is it a success? Not especially. But Vitinha will not be our no. 10 tomorrow."
How did you perceive the tense post-match between your players and the supporters on Saturday at Monaco?
"It's always difficult. I understand the disappointment and frustration of the supporters which can lead to anger. They witnessed a very difficult match. I'm sure they'll respond. It will resonate strongly at the Parc des Princes, but they will encourage us through the end. There can be frustration among the supporters, I understand that. But my players were also frustrated after the Monaco match."