Christophe Galtier told the Paris Saint-Germain stars that a team that defends together can win a lot together.
New coach Galtier believes the team’s spirit is contagious and that this union is key to getting the best out of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi this season.
The man who is now in charge of the Parc des Princes watched the PSG trio from afar last season while in charge of Nice. They stuttered at times as a combination when they were expected to conquer French and European football.
Rarely has such a stellar trio belonged to the same club at the same time, and it is expected to improve on last season’s performance as PSG once again pursue their holy grail: Champions League glory.
In Ligue 1 last season, Mbappé scored 28 goals in 35 games, but Neymar again missed much of the campaign and ended up with 13 goals in 22 matches in the competition, while former Barcelona captain Messi hit just six times in 26. league games despite having an expected goal count (xG) of 11.4.
Mbappé was suspended for suspension in the Trophee des Champions 4-0 defeat of Nantes last weekend. Messi opened the scoring, Neymar scored twice and Sergio Ramos completed the rout, with Galtier, who replaced Mauricio Pochettino fired in July, winning his first titles.
When the Parisians head to Clermont for the league opener on Saturday, Mbappé will be available once again, and that means the top three are likely to be reunited.
“It’s a pleasure to have Kylian Mbappe back for the first game of the championship,” said Galtier. “He was involved in our pre-season.”
Galtier was asked directly what the key would be to getting the best out of the top three, but the manager took a tangential path to offer his vision and, in doing so, indicated that he might expect extra effort from Mbappé, Messi and Neymar when comes to contribute in the whole field.
“In terms of our defensive scheme, we have a collective desire and responsibility. Also, as individuals. There can be periods in games where it’s very tight and the team still hasn’t outrun the opponent in terms of scoring or finding spaces,” Galtier said.
“We want to be very focused on not letting the opposition affect our style of play. We have priority as a team and as individuals.
“When you have teammates putting in a lot of effort, of course, that’s contagious, and it means the players around you want to put in the same effort. So we need to make sure that’s what happens.
“There may be times in games where things are not going so well. The midfield and defense may need to accept that there may be periods in the game where, for whatever reason, these forwards may find it difficult to come back, or that may also be go to the sides.
“We have to accept that we all have to defend together, but sometimes players who may be involved in the first stage of recovery with our pressure game may not be in the right position for them to get back into the right position in our defensive block.”
Galtier said he and PSG would benefit from the experience of former Real Madrid captain Ramos, who spent most of his first season at the club sidelined due to injury issues.
“It’s always nice to have players like him, and they can bring their experience,” said Galtier. “Professionalism. That’s what they bring to their teammates, and for me they also have experiences that I haven’t had, so I can learn from that, and they can also have answers to questions that I’m asking myself.”
In Clermont’s debut season in Ligue 1 last season, they were beaten 4-0 and 6-1 by PSG on their way to finishing 17th, avoiding the fall.
PSG have won each of their last seven Ligue 1 opening games, a streak that has only been surpassed previously by Marseille (10) and Bordeaux (9).
This will be PSG’s 50th season in Ligue 1 and brings them the opportunity to claim an 11th league title, which would put them ahead of Saint-Etienne to become the most successful team in the competition’s history. Anything less would be considered a failure.