Don’t ask me about winning Champions League, says PSG coach

Tuchel did not want to entertain any question about PSG winning the Champions League. (AFP pic)

PARIS: After three consecutive last-16 eliminations in the Champions League, Paris St Germain were taking their impressive 3-0 victory over Real Madrid on Wednesday with a large pinch of salt.

In their first Champions League game since Manchester United’s shock 3-1 win in Paris knocked them out last season, PSG were brilliant against the Spanish side, but they know only too well that they still have plenty to prove.

“Before anyone asks a question … If someone asks me if we’re going to win the Champions League, I’m out of here,” Tuchel told a news conference after PSG had crushed 13-time European champions Real in their Group A opener at the Parc des Princes.

The United debacle followed a 5-2 aggregate defeat by Real Madrid in 2018 and a memorable loss to Barcelona in 2017 with a 6-1 defeat at the Camp Nou following a 4-0 home win.

“We did not want to send a message but it is true that we controlled this game, we were well prepared,” PSG centre back Thiago Silva said.

Having spent over €1 billion on players since Qatar Sports Investment took over in 2011, PSG have been expected to win the Champions League but they have fallen spectacularly short in recent seasons.

They are now focused on the first task of getting through to the knockout phase from a group featuring Real, Club Brugge and Galatasaray.

Tuchel’s side were outstanding against Real with Angel Di Maria scoring a double in the absence of the formidable trio of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani – both injured – and the suspended Neymar.

“Maybe the pressure was not too high on the players because those three were missing,” said Tuchel.

“Without them we were not the favourites and it freed the minds of those who were on the pitch tonight, they did not feel the pressure.”

Although the PSG coach acknowledged he could not afford to miss the “MCN” trio for too long, he was satisfied the rest of the squad made up for their absence.

“We can do without them for a few games if all the others play at their best,” he said.

PSG recruited during the close season, notably bringing in goalkeeper Keylor Navas from Real Madrid and striker Mauro Icardi on loan from Inter Milan.

But it was midfielder Idrissa Gueye, who joined from Everton, who caught the eye on Wednesday, setting up Di Maria for the second goal and working tirelessly.

“Idrissa, it’s incredible. I don’t have the words. I don’t know how many balls he won today,” Silva said.