PSG vs. Bayern Munich: Neymar pre-match press conference
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.
Neymar 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 player said.
How do you judge your state of form and do you land the criticism about your performances?
"I feel great, mentally and physically. In some matches, things don't go very well even though we want to do everything but it doesn't work. I've been a professional for 15 years, I know how it goes. The reviews of my game are all valid. I understand them, everyone has the right to have their point of view, and I respect it. But I'm doing my best for the team and I will do it until the end of the season."
PSG players have the ability to switch to "Champions League mode". Will they still have it on Tuesday?
"We have that ability, yes. I have a lot of self-confidence. Since I arrived in Europe, I've always been on top, but I stay humble when I underline these aspects. Tomorrow against Bayern, it's a nuclear match, and we are aware of the difficulties but we have a very good team that can play a great match."
Two years ago you shone against Bayern Munich. Can this reunion motivate you to return to those levels?
"Yes, it's one of the best matches I've played at PSG. I don't know if these games are where I perform at my best, but I like to play those big games."
Every time the cutthroat Champions League matches arrive, Paris seems to be struggling... What do you attribute it to?
"I have no explanation for that. It happens in all clubs. But we as a team all have to be focused. We are aware that difficulties are coming but it also allows us to prepare better. We talk about it very often in the locker room. We are aware that there are some flaws in our game, but we're looking for our best version and I'm sure we'll find it."
Kylian Mbappe has resumed training. Do you think he will be able to play?
"Kylian is a very important player for the team. He's a crack, a big player. When the three of us (with Messi) are together, we feel stronger. I hope he can play for a few minutes, but the coach will decide. Mbappe has told me he feels good, and that is a good indicator and also important for the team to know."
Will the success of your season come down to what happens against Bayern?
"No, each game has its own story. Our biggest goal is the Champions League, but sometimes you can't handle all the details. That said, the Champions League is like the World Cup, and you have to master all those details. We know how hard it is, but we will try to show our best version. We are not here to walk around but to win all possible titles. Elimination in the Coupe de France hurt, but that's already past us. We must analyze our errors and use that knowledge in our favor. Bayern Munich have great players but so do we and we know what we have to do tomorrow."
L'Equipe reported you and Marquinhos had a heated exchange with Luis Campos at Monaco. What about that?
"Yes, it happened. We had an exchange where we did not agree. But disagreements happen every day with lots of people and that doesn't stop me from loving them all. Even with my girlfriend, we don't always agree, but we're still together. There is respect even if sometimes we don't agree. Dialogue improves the environment and our play for future matches. It's true that our latest performances have not been good, and when there are defeats that also disturbs us."
"Discussions are part of the process to improve our performance. We talk, it's important. This is my sixth season here. Sometimes there are rumors that come out at key moments, but I don't know what to do, I'm a player. It doesn't bother me, but it bothers my teammates and the coach. There are subjects that must stay only between us. It's everyday life, and we fight together for the same goal."
How does the presence of Verratti change the outlook of PSG?
"He is a great player, we know his qualities. When he's on the pitch, it's added value. His presence is very positive."