After not having minced his words at a press conference on Monday, provoking a lively controversy over the carbon footprint of Paris Saint-Germain, Christophe Galtier spent a good part of the match won by his team against Juventus Turin, Tuesday September 6 , at the Parc des Princes (2-1), chewing gum well. The translation of a form of pressure felt by Galtier, not for his remarks on the “yachting”, but more because he passed his first real test on the PSG coaching bench.
Galtier did not miss his return to school in the European Cup, alongside his protégés. The step was high, however, for the one who had so far only known a C1 campaign with Lille (zero victory in six outings). After having (almost) perfectly started his term at PSG, with six victories and 27 goals scored in seven games, the Champions League presented itself, the absolute objective of the capital club.
Against a Juventus that PSG had never beaten and against Massimiliano Allegri, his very experienced counterpart (95 games played in C1, two finals in 2015 and 2017), Christophe Galtier found a formula that he still needs to refine. PSG knows how to switch on the steamroller mode, even in the Champions League, as in the first period on Tuesday evening, during which the Turinese did not see the light of day.
The system with three defenders and two pistons, which he experienced in Ligue 1, allows the “MNM” (Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, Lionel Messi) to express themselves at best. Their closeness on the pitch and their understanding were again noticed against the Old Lady, even if Messi seemed a step below his two teammates. “I am very satisfied with what the team has produced, in the way of combining and attacking”reacted Galtier in a press conference after the match.
Forgotten the “penaltygate” at the start of the season, Neymar and Mbappé are inspired and Galtier seems to have achieved the feat of convincing his attacking players to run to defend. The system also allows Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi, passer yesterday, to devour the spaces on the sides. Between, “Verratti and Vitinha are well connected. They are a pair that gives me extremely satisfaction”assured Galtier.
But his team still appears to be largely perfectible. The incessant activity of the coach in his technical area also reflects a permanent search for adjustment. Christophe Galtier recognized a weakness in his tactical device: “In this system, it’s physically hard. When there is a little less gas, or a more complicated replacement, it can put us in difficulty from a defensive point of view. (…) We have a game very dynamic, carried forward. But we should have mastered the difficult moments better, put our foot on the ball more.”
The Parisian coach is not the only one to have identified areas for improvement. “Even if there is a victory, there are still a lot of things to improve (…). We have to manage our weak times, which must not be too weak. It’s still the start of the season, we will continue to work “recognized Kylian Mbappé at the microphone of Canal +.
The season will be long, disrupted by the World Cup in November-December, and PSG will have to play on several fronts. Squad and agency management will be key to continuing to use this three-defender system. The French technician underlined this by wishing to find a “new pair in the middle”, to blow Vitinha and Verratti.
Still, PSG won against Juve, as Paris has already done in the past during the group stages against major European teams. A little less than a year ago, the capital club beat Manchester City at home (2-0). But without really convincing and seeking an offensive identity. The latter, Galtier’s PSG already seems to have found it at the start of the season.
There is still time in Paris, as Mbappé said at the microphone of Canal+for “continue to work”. This type of match, with the air pockets encountered by PSG, also allows Galtier to identify early in the season the ingredients that are missing to find the perfect formula. “Winning in difficulty allows the group to grow”, launched the Parisian coach during a press conference which he had started by qualifying as “bad taste” his land yachting joke. His only misstep since arriving at PSG.