Thomas Tuchel: "I had a plan after the match in Dortmund "
In Tacticall, Thomas Tuchel spoke to PSGTV, looking back at the most recent game played by Paris Saint-Germain, against Borussia Dortmund. Analysis.
If Paris Saint-Germain's players – in confinement – haven't played a game in more than a month, it was a perfect chance to take the time to quiz Thomas Tuchel on his choices as coach. In this new episode of "Tacticall", the Paris coach looks back at the last match played by his team: on March 11 behind closed doors, against Borussia Dortmund.
So, how did he deal with the criticism after the first leg, and how did he project forward to the crunch return leg? "Honestly, I had a plan in the plane after the first leg in Dortmund. I immediately created a plan for the return leg. Sometimes it's like that, I write things down immediately and we stick to that plan. For the return leg we were missing Thiago Silva, our fans, Kylian Mbappé who was ill. We were also missing Marco Verratti and Thomas Meunier. It wasn't easy but I always had the impression the team really wanted to prove they were capable of winning at the Parc des Princes, that they were calm. And also before the match in the bus with the supporters, well the atmosphere in the bus was that everybody was singing along to the music. It was really a very special atmosphere", the coach told us.
It goes without saying that the plan worked as the Rouge et Bleu won 2-0 against the German team, booking their ticket for the quarter-finals of the competition. "We started in a very attacking way, we created chances and controlled the game. After the second goal we had a bit more of the impression that we had something to lose. We started playing a little deeper, but we were still dangerous on the counter. Dortmund had nothing to lose but we defended really well. It was a very solid performance, and we defended as a team", carried on the coach.
Defensively, the coach didn't hide his satisfaction as to how solid his team were and how they worked for each other: " Marquinhos and Kimpembe did everything very well, that has to be said. Idrissa and Paredes too in front of them, as a pair of number sixes, the four midfielders were very good against Haaland, against Sancho, with Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat. It's never easy but we played with a lot of courage, all together, really tight as a team and it was strong. It was a pleasure to coach because we really had the impression that we had made another stride forward."
A chance for Thomas Tuchel, too, to look back at the displays of Neymar Jr, a scorer in both legs: "Ney is always the key, in attack and in defence. I must really say that he is always reliable when the big matches come around. He works hard, he's always there, he's very intelligent, he controls the passes. We saw that his capacities increased after the first match against Dortmund. Sadly, he was injured before that and hadn't played before the first leg. But between the two legs he improved physically and his capacities were enhanced. He gave everybody the impression that he was there, that he was taking on his responsibilities. That gave everybody the right impression: to me, to the team on the pitch, and it's great."
In the end, from the first leg defeat to the qualification, from playing behind closed doors to the celebrations with the supporters, the match not only allowed Thomas Tuchel to take a step forward with his team, but also to look ahead: "We were determined to win and to do absolutely everything to come through the challenge. The team was impressive. It's a pity the season has stopped for now because we're in the quarter-finals and we worked hard to get there. We must use the match and the emotions surrounding it in order to carry on."
Of course, the competitions being interrupted is an unprecedented and delicate situation for the coach: "Now it's really bizarre and we must wait because it has a big influence. In the end we won't have been together as a squad for more than eight weeks. Maybe we'll have to show them the matches of that game, in order to get that same spirit back (laughs). For me it was a key match. In that situation it wasn't easy. Without our supporters it wasn't easy at all, especially after losing the first leg. It could be a really key game for us because we still have two Cup finals to play and a quarter-final."