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Paris SG tries the revolution

Paris SG French striker Kylian Mbappé and his coach Christophe Galtier during the team’s pre-season workshop in Japan on July 18, 2022 in Tokyo ( TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA, Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP/Archives )

Paris Saint-Germain has promised to change methods for the 12th season of the Qatari era, with Christophe Galtier in charge and Kylian Mbappé as a figurehead, but with always the same obsession, to win the Champions League.

“We no longer want flashy, bling-bling, it’s the end of glitter,” summarized President Nasser Al-Khelaïfi to explain the shift taken by the club this summer.

Hence the choice of a trainer renowned for the discipline reigning in his groups and with convincing results with staff much less powerful than the one he now has in his hands.

PSG surprised by betting on Galtier. Abandoning the track of rising technicians, after Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino, he entrusted his golden squad to an old Ligue 1 player (55), who proved himself by winning the title with Lille in 2021 , just ahead of PSG.

“Obviously, when you train Paris Saint-Germain, you have more pressure than elsewhere, it’s a club that is used to winning trophies,” admits the new coach. But he repeats that if he is there, it is because he feels “capable” of it.

Galtier is reforming in Paris, with football adviser Luis Campos, the duo that built the Losc team champion of France.

Mbappé “at the heart of the project”

Even if the Portuguese had left the season of the title, in disagreement with his president, Campos and Galtier get along wonderfully and have worked hand in hand on the construction of the Parisian workforce.

The most important blow of the transfer window was to keep Kylian Mbappé, placed “at the heart of the project”, a formula that comes up time and again.

The trio of Paris SG attackers, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar during a press conference in Tokyo on July 17, 2022
The trio of Paris SG strikers, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar during a press conference in Tokyo on July 17, 2022 ( TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA, Toshifumi KITAMURA / AFP/Archives )

Then the technician changed his habits, the 4-4-2, to bet on a three-man defense, pistons and an attacking trio that makes the whole world dream, despite a mixed first season together: Lionel Messi, Neymar and Mbappe.

Paris has strengthened in the middle with the promising Portuguese Vitinha (FC Porto), a versatile defender to integrate the rotation, Nordi Mukiele (RB Leipzig), in the reserves of Didier Deschamps (1 selection), and he should also quickly enlist the Portuguese Renato Sanches (Lille) to strengthen his midfield a little more.

In the hunt for bling-bling, PSG has also clearly placed players in the “loft”, Georginio Wijnaldum, Ander Herrera, Julian Draxler, Layvin Kurzawa, Thilo Kehrer or Rafinha.

But this is not Galtier’s domain. His first mission is to take better advantage than Pochettino of the incredible Mbappé-Messi-Neymar trio.

On what they showed during the preparation (four wins in four matches), the case takes shape. Messi, after a disappointing first season, seems to be finding his best shots, like his inspired gestures during the Champions Trophy won brilliantly against Nantes (4-0) on Sunday.

“Not the PSG of last season”

That night in Tel Aviv, Neymar was also sparkling, with 2 goals and a brilliant assist for Messi. Antoine Kombouaré, the Nantes coach, even carried him to the edge of the sidelines: “Are you defending now?” he launched to the Brazilian with a big smile.

The Paris SG team celebrate their victory in the Champions Trophy against FC Nantes in Tel Aviv on July 31, 2022
The Paris SG team celebrate their victory in the Champions Trophy against FC Nantes in Tel Aviv on July 31, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP/Archives)

For this first trophy of the season, Galtier “especially appreciated the desire to recover the ball as quickly as possible and the defensive efforts in this area where the three forwards were very good.”

“It’s not the PSG we saw last season,” said Kombouaré.

And to think that Mbappé, suspended, was not even there! Galtier will have to defend him in the first curtain as much as Pablo Sarabia.

But watch out for the euphoria though. In his time, Tuchel also had gone off on a whirlwind, with a sexy game and brilliant victories, before failing, like all the technicians at PSG so far, in the Champions League, justice of the peace.

Because in Paris, the title is not enough. The tenth, equaled Saint-Étienne’s record, was not really celebrated as it could have been, in the climate of mistrust at the end of the Pochettino era.

Messi and “Ney” were even whistled last season by the Parc des Princes, fumasse after the elimination in C1 at Real Madrid (1-0/1-3).

We will judge PSG de Galtier better in September, with the C1, than on Saturday in Clermont.

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