“Mbappé, Neymar and Messi endanger the team block” / C1 / Gr.H / Maccabi Haifa-PSG (1-3) / SOFOOT.com

A left-back trained at Paris Saint-Germain, who spent time with the capital club from 1994 to 1998, then from 2001 to 2003, Didier Domi dissects the performance of the Parisians on the ground of Maccabi Haifa (3-1) on the occasion of the second day of the Champions League.


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How should we analyze this disappointing first period of PSG against Maccabi Haifa? This recalled, in sequence, certain bad sides seen last year.
We saw these bad sides mainly because we missed a lot of chances, some of which were quite easy to achieve. I have in mind a face to face of Neymar and another occasion where Kylian Mbappé procrastinates. Two situations where, with their qualities, it should be a goal quite easily. Paris had 3-4 clear chances passing in the back of their defense but there was a lack of efficiency in the last gesture. This put Paris Saint-Germain in difficult situations, it forced them to concede chances. There were lacks in inspiration, in intensity too, and then it must be said that Maccabi had a good first period.

“This PSG can open any safe just as it can lose against anyone. »

The Mbappé-Neymar-Messi trio quickly cut themselves off from the rest of the team. Does this explain the ease with which Maccabi players have shown themselves to be so dangerous?
It’s clear. This is an observation that we had last week against Juventus. They make life hard for Vitinha and Marco Verratti! (Laughs.) Failing to do all-terrain pressing like the big teams, we don’t have this concern to make the effort, to just get back behind the ball. In angles where they will be able to cut passes, facing the ball carrier. This requires a little bit of generosity, and that, Paris does not have it yet. If the attack is based on the ball, the defense is based on the work. You can’t ask Lionel Messi to make the same effort as Verratti or Vitinha, but you can ask him to go those 10-15 meters to get behind the ball. To interfere with the opponent. We did not see it over time, like against Juve.

Whether Juventus or Maccabi Haifa tonight, the opposition was not very strong. Can this team evolve with its trio when the adversity is greater?
When you have these three great players, you should not deprive yourself of them. Leo Messi’s passing quality, Neymar’s exceptional form, Mbappé who also scores… I believe they are capable of doing it, of being able to evolve together without penalizing the team defensively, but you need a awareness over ninety minutes. They endanger the team block at times, and I don’t think they are aware of it. It goes through a slightly firmer message from Christophe Galtier and through video. This PSG can open any safe just like he can lose against anyone. For a team of this level – which I assess with the same criteria as the other great European players such as Bayern, Manchester City, Real or FC Barcelona for example – they concede far too many chances against a like Maccabi Haifa. Their team block is much more compact, they have a better grasp of defensive concepts and are better prepared tactically for losing the ball. But, there were still good things and I am thinking in particular of Mbappé.

What did you think of Mbappé’s performance?
There was this lack around the last thirty meters in the first half, but that’s where we see that Paris have world-class players. You still have to realize that this is the tenth game in a row in the Champions League where he is decisive (Kylian Mbappé has scored 9 goals and delivered 6 assists in PSG’s last ten C1 games, editor’s note). It’s extraordinary to realize that at only 23 years old. This is why I insist on the collective awareness that he, Neymar and Messi must have: to tell themselves that Paris has the means to go all the way, and that it will go through them.

“We sometimes ask too much of defenders, and we forget that defensive work is everyone’s business, that it involves defensive replacement in particular”

Since moving to Istanbul Başakşehir (2-0) in October 2020, the capital club has always conceded at least one goal in its last ten Champions League away games. What did you think of Paris’ defensive performance?
To speak specifically about the defensive part of this PSG, I find that there are still concerns in the management of space. Especially when Danilo Pereira plays, because he still has midfield reflexes: he tends to go out and not read the game of a defender. Marquinhos is sometimes also a little late at times, it can also go behind Sergio Ramos’ back sometimes. It can be settled. Everything from the base: since the front three defend very badly, so you leave too much space next to Verratti and Vitinha, you concede a lot of chances. You can’t demand every effort from your defence. Finally, when Paris is in low block, there is not enough pressing. Unless I am mistaken, Maccabi had drawn eleven times per hour of play. Because there is no team block. We sometimes ask too much of defenders, and we forget that defensive work is everyone’s business, that it involves defensive replacement in particular. You always see the character of a team on how it defends together, how aggressive it puts and what pressure it puts.

PSG’s next match in C1 will be at Benfica on October 5th. What improvement do you expect to see after two months of competition?
Already, the team is rather efficient with the ball. Especially in three-way ball outings. Vitinha is very good with Verratti, I also found him very generous tonight. You can always count on the speed of Mbappé and on the presence inside the game of Neymar and Messi, you already feel a great improvement in this area compared to last year. The team is more creative. The only downside on this point is that they tend to go inside the game too much. They sometimes forget their full-backs, who were Nuno Mendes and Nordi Mukiele this Wednesday evening, even though they are very important to ward off the opponent’s block and participate in creating these paths at the heart of the game. The major line of work, to conclude, lies in the counter-pressing when they lose the ball: Paris still has a lot of progress to make on this point.

Interview by Andrea Chazy

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