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Sunday, 5 March 2017

PSG needs to be ‘strong mentally’ against Barca – Matuidi


Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi has insisted the Ligue 1 giants will not travel to Barcelona for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie fearing a reverse of their 4-0 aggregate lead.

Speaking after the French champions beat AS Nancy Lorraine 1-0 at Parc des Princes on Saturday, the France international refuted the idea that Unai Emery’s men are worried Barca could replicate their sensational Paris performance.

“Never,” Matuidi replied when asked in the mixed zone whether PSG fear a worst case scenario in Catalonia.

“We believe in ourselves but we will also respect this team because we know they are capable of great things.


“However, so are we. We showed that in the first leg. If we are at that level of performance, we can replicate that sort of game.”

Matuidi stressed that Les Parisiens must make a strong start at Camp Nou next Wednesday and now bow to pressure from Luis Enrique’s men.

“The first few minutes will be important,” said the 29-year-old. “They will put us under pressure. They will want to score as quickly as possible.

“However, it is good for us when our opponents leave us lots of space. We will need to exploit that.
“We must be strong mentally. We will experience some difficult moments, so we must prepare for that.”

Although PSG had to scrap for their 1-0 win over Nancy, Matuidi believed he and his teammates did enough to merit their success and that they are now ready for Barca after wins away at Olympique de Marseille and Chamois Niortais inside the same week.

“We did what we needed to do,” the second half substitute said. “However, it is true that against teams that defend deep, we struggle. They stay deep, wait for us and then try to trap us, like we saw here.
“We did what we had to for our goal and took risks. Winning always boosts the confidence, especially ahead of a Champions League match.
“We have won three matches in a week. We are now ready for this great clash with Barcelona.”

Coach Emery was happy with the result and particularly the defensive performance, which he felt was superior to that of their 0-0 draw with Toulouse last time out at Parc des Princes.

“The most important thing was the three points for our league campaign,” he said. “It bodes well ahead of our match on Wednesday and will have boosted the players.

“We will continue to improve when we play at home. There are a few technical details we need to iron out, such as giving so much possession away.

“There were a lot of attacks, 13 corners and 20 shots. We did well in attack but we can still be more efficient.

“Defensively, we were better than we were against Toulouse. We only allowed them two chances but we still found the best way to all three points. I am pleased for the team.”

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