Thomas Tuchel, at the Manchester United-PSG meeting on Tuesday night.
Thomas Tuchel, at the Manchester United-PSG meeting on Tuesday night. JASON CAIRNDUFF / Action Images via Reuters

To see the Italian Marco Verratti tack like a madman to scratch a ball in the center circle of the lawn of Old Trafford, we say that this Paris-Saint-Germain there is made of a different kind of wood, this season , on the European scene.

In the wake of his heroic (2-1) victory against Liverpool in November 2018, in the pool phase, the club of the capital showed strength, determination and aggressiveness by overturning (2-0) Manchester United Tuesday, February 12, in the first leg of the Champions League.

As if they had learned from their mistakes and failures of previous seasons, Thiago Silva and his partners have trapped Mancunians out of ideas. The nerves in capelinade during the recovery of FC Barcelona (6-1 victory of the Blaugrana after a defeat 4-0 in the first leg), in March 2017, too soft against Zinédine Zidane's Real Madrid a year later, the Parisians this time, perfectly managed this high-risk displacement.

"We played as a team"

The credit goes first to the man who telegraphs PSG version Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) since May 2018: the German coach Thomas Tuchel, past master in the art of adapting tactically to the opponent.

" We decided to be together that we press high or defend low. We played as a team. It was the key Tuchel said after the meeting. At Old Trafford, the former coach of Borussia Dortmund (2015-2017) gave voice and multiplied large gestures to harangue his protégés. Which have applied his instructions to the letter and is block. In Manchester, it emerged from this highly disciplined and mature PSG a form of solidarity quite similar to the one interviewed in March 2015, under different circumstances (expulsion of Zlatan Ibrahimovic early in the game), during the Homeric qualification ( 2-2 in overtime) for the quarterfinals against Chelsea by José Mourinho.

It was necessary to see the pugnacity of the tandem formed in the middle by Marco Verratti and Marquinhos to understand the state of mind which animated the Parisians. The case of the Brazilian is emblematic of the substantive work undertaken by Tuchel since his enthronement. In lack of solutions in the midfield, Tuchel has converted the central defender of business sentinel, an ungrateful position he was not used to. If Marqui's debut at this post was hesitant, as evidenced by his poor performance in Liverpool (3-2 loss) in September, his performance in Manchester proved that his coach had a hollow nose and reason to persist .

At Old Trafford, the Brazilian muzzled a Paul Pogba silenced until his expulsion late in the game. "It's a coach who gives us strategies. He analyzes the opponent a lot, he looks for weaknesses and strengths, said Marquinhos about Thomas Tuchel. He gave me the mission to stay very attentive and vigilant with Pogba. We knew that the game was going to go through him a lot, so I needed to stop Manchester's offensive transitions. "

In this daring system (3-4-3) put in place by the German, the Brazilian Daniel Alves was illustrated by his sense of sacrifice. He made talk about his experience (35 years, 110 games played in the Champions League), going to the coal to cut the opponents attacks. Master of the air, vigilant and intelligent in his placement, Thiago Silva has, himself, excelled in central hinge. Like the Argentinian Angel Di Maria, double decisive passer for his reunion with his former club, whistled with each balloon and targeted by a bottle of beer that he pretended to drink, Parisians have shown character in front of a hostile public.

In a favorable tie before the return leg, on March 6 at the Parc des Princes, is Tuchel's PSG in the process of punching the glass ceiling that circumscribes its European ambitions? In spring 2018, the German was chosen by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Al-Thani, to bring the PSG into a new dimension. His mission: to erase the obvious failure of his Spanish predecessor (2016-2018), Unai Emery, unable to match the performance of Carlo Ancelotti (2012-2013) and Laurent Blanc (2013-2016), managed to hoist and keep PSG in the top 8 in Europe.

Tuchel, attentive to every detail

Attentive to the slightest detail, Tuchel presented his method, in September, in Team: he wanted to help Paris players, tired of spoiling their chances in the Champions League each season, to better understand this appointment. " To win the Champions League, it's important to have a culture that makes players bigger. Real Madrid [thirteentimeswinnerofthetournamentand[treizefoisvainqueurdutournoiet triple titleholder] has a generation that knows how to win big games, how to resist the pressure ", developed the coach.

Known for his volcanic temperament, inclined to press the chord to galvanize his troops, Tuchel is all the more appreciated by his players that he managed to unite his staff, unanimous to salute his management. And this in a delicate context: his relations with the Portuguese Antero Henrique, sports director of the club since 2017, have deteriorated since the transfer window winter unsuccessful – in the eyes of the first city – PSG.

" We grew up in this game. We did not leave a lot of actions, enthused Tuchel in the Old Trafford Auditorium. It is a great achievement on our part. "On March 6, Paris leaders will know if the German has indeed managed to grow their club.

Rémi Dupré

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