Juan Bernat: 'Dominated more and more'

After clinching a place in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, the Paris Saint-Germain defender looked back on the season as a hugely successful first half to the campaign draws to a close.

Juan, how do you think the first half of the season has gone?
"I think it's very positive. We beat the record for consecutive wins at the start of a Ligue 1 season, and finished top of our Champions League group, which was our objective. We didn't start in the best of ways with that defeat at Liverpool, but in the end, we did what we had set out to do and we're happy to have qualified. We're at the top of the league, 13 points ahead of our nearest rival, and we've finished top of our Champions League group. As the matches have gone on, we have improved and reached the level we should. We have showed more and dominated more and more, that's very satisfying."

After six months in Ligue 1, how do you find the league?
"There are a lot of teams with very good players. Winning a game is never easy in this league. We work hard not to get caught out. We know that teams are waiting for us. They're always at 100% when they play us, whether it be at home or away. That makes games tough and never easy."

Is being so far ahead in the league bad for your chances in the Champions League?
"That's an ongoing debate...Sometimes, when a team is well ahead, it means they can lose focus and can't play at 100%, which can have a negative impact. But we try to make sure that's not the case for us. During each game we're focussed on winning and on doing it in style. We just focus on ourselves, play our game and do what we want to do. We all have the same aim, which is to give the best of ourselves in each game and training session."

Thomas Tuchel's system seems to suit your profile...
"Yes, it's a system I have known since my time in the Bundesliga. It's based on playing attractive football, with the possibility of quick counter-attacks and creating lots of chances. Since the start of the season, we have managed to get a better handle on the strategy. You've been able to see that as the matches have gone on."

At this stage of the season, was the match in Belgrade the most important one?
"Yes. We knew it would be difficult. The group was a really tough one, and Liverpool and Napoli didn't manage to score a goal there. We knew we would face great opponents, but I think we played really well. We suffered a bit at the start of the second half after their goal, but in the end we didn't lose concentration and we were able to make the difference and stay in front until the final whistle."

Did the squad have any doubts before the final two group games?
"We didn't really have doubts, because we knew we had our destiny in our own hands. It was down to us! We also hoped Liverpool would beat Napoli in the final game, but that wasn't certain as Napoli had played really well. But we had in mind to finish top of the group and win the two games left. Against Belgrade, we were so strong mentally. We scored early, which also helped us to get into the match quickly. We finally picked up that first place, and we're very happy with that."

The support from the fans who had made the trip was non-stop too...
"It's always like that with our fans. They come and support us from start to finish, whether it be at the Parc des Princes or away from home. They give us a lot of energy and strength, and we also won that game for them."