“Mbappé, Neymar and Messi endanger the blockade of the team” / C1 / Gr.H / Maccabi Haifa-PSG (1-3) / SOFOOT.com

“Mbappé, Neymar and Messi endanger the blockade of the team” / C1 / Gr.H / Maccabi Haifa-PSG (1-3) / SOFOOT.com

“Mbappé, Neymar and Messi endanger the blockade of the team” / C1 / Gr.H / Maccabi Haifa-PSG (1-3) / SOFOOT.com

Left-back trained at Paris Saint-Germain, who played with the club of the capital from 1994 to 1998, then from 2001 to 2003, Didier Domi dissects the performances of the Parisians on the field of Maccabi Haifa (3-1) on the occasion of the second day of the Champions League.


How to analyze this first disappointing period of PSG against Maccabi Haifa? This recalled, in sequence, some negative sides seen last year.
We have seen these downsides mainly because we have missed out on a lot of opportunities, some of which are quite easy to obtain. I have a Neymar face to face in mind and another occasion where Kylian Mbappé procrastinates. Two situations where, with their qualities, he should be a target easily enough. Paris had 3-4 clear chances passing to the rear, but in the last gesture there was a lack of efficiency. This put Paris Saint-Germain in difficult situations, forced them to concede chances. There was no inspiration, even intensity, and then it must be said that Maccabi had a good first period.

“This PSG can open any safe just like it can lose to anyone. ”

The Mbappé-Neymar-Messi trio immediately detached themselves from the rest of the team. Does this explain the ease with which the Maccabi players have shown themselves so dangerous?
It’s clear. This is an observation we had last week against Juventus. They make life difficult for Vitinha and Marco Verratti! (Laughs.) Not being able to put pressure on all terrains like the big teams, we don’t have this worry about making the effort, just going back behind the ball. In the corners where they can cut passes, facing the ball carrier. This requires some generosity, and Paris doesn’t have it yet. If the attack is based on the ball, the defense is based on work. You can’t ask Lionel Messi to make the same effort as Verratti or Vitinha, but you can ask him to do those 10-15 meters to get behind the ball. To interfere with the opponent. We haven’t seen him over time, like against Juve.

Whether it’s Juventus or Maccabi Haifa tonight, the opposition wasn’t very strong. Can this team evolve with its trio when adversity is greatest?
When you have these three great players, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of them. The quality of Leo Messi’s passing, the exceptional form of Neymar, Mbappé who also scores … I think they are able to do it, to be able to evolve together without penalizing the team in the defensive phase, but you need an awareness beyond ninety minutes. Sometimes they endanger the blockade of the team and I don’t think they are aware of it. It goes through a slightly firmer message from Christophe Galtier and through the video. This PSG can open any safe just like it can lose to anyone. For a team of this level – which I evaluate with the same criteria as other great European players such as Bayern, Manchester City, Real or FC Barcelona for example – it gives too many chances against a Maccabi Haifa like Maccabi. Their team’s block is much more compact, they have a better understanding of defensive concepts and are more tactically prepared to lose the ball. But there were still good things and I think in particular of Mbappé.

What do you think of Mbappé’s performance?
There was this lack in the last thirty meters in the first half, but that’s where we see Paris have world-class players. We still have to realize that this is the tenth consecutive match in the Champions League where it is decisive (Kylian Mbappé has scored 9 goals and provided 6 assists in PSG’s last ten C1 games, ed.). It is extraordinary to realize this at just 23 years old. This is why I insist on the collective awareness that he, Neymar and Messi must have: to tell themselves that Paris has the means to go all the way, and that it will go through them.

“Sometimes we ask too much of the defenders and we forget that the defensive work is everyone’s business, which includes in particular the defensive substitution”

Since moving to Istanbul Başakşehir (2-0) in October 2020, the capital’s club have conceded at least one goal in their last ten Champions League away games. What do you think of Paris’s defensive performance?
To speak specifically of the defensive part of this PSG, I find that there are still some perplexities in the management of space. Especially when Danilo Pereira plays, because he still has midfield reflexes: he tends to go out and not read a defender’s game. Marquinhos is also a bit late sometimes, sometimes he can even go behind Sergio Ramos. It can be fixed. Everything from the base: since the first three defend very badly, so you leave too much space next to Verratti and Vitinha, you allow many opportunities. You cannot demand every effort from your defense. Finally, when Paris is low, there is not enough pressure. If I’m not mistaken, Maccabi had drawn eleven times every hour of play, because there is no team block. Sometimes we ask too much of the defenders, and we forget that the defensive work is everyone’s business, which involves in particular the defensive substitution. You always see the character of a team by how they defend together, how aggressive they are and what pressure they put on.

PSG’s next C1 match will be at Benfica on 5 October. What improvement do you expect to see after two months of racing?
The team is already pretty efficient with the ball. Especially in three-ball outings. Vitinha is very good with Verratti, I also found him very generous tonight. You can always count on Mbappé’s speed and on the presence in the game of Neymar and Messi, you already feel a great improvement in this area compared to last year. The team is more creative. The only downside on this point is that they tend to get too into the game, sometimes they forget their full backs, who on Wednesday night were Nuno Mendes and Nordi Mukiele, although they are very important to fend off the opponent’s block and participate in the creation of these paths in the heart of the game. The main line of work, to conclude, lies in the counterpress when they lose the ball: Paris still have a lot of progress to be made on this point.

Interview by Andrea Chazy

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