PARIS (Reuters) – Paris St Germain’s formidable attacking trio normally strike fear into opponents, but in Tuesday’s 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United in their Champions League opener there was no collective response when the forwards misfired.
Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe were disappointing and the French champions lacked aggressiveness and intelligence elsewhere to make up for their stars’ under-par performances.
“There was no intensity, no aggressiveness, no pressing, no counter pressing. It was weird, I don’t know why,” lamented coach Thomas Tuchel, whose team looked subdued throughout in a first group stage home defeat in 25 years.
Tuchel replaced Idrissa Gueye by forward Moise Kean at halftime when PSG trailed 1-0 following Bruno Fernandes’s penalty, but the decision left a hole in midfield rather than adding creativity to the front line.
Tuchel said Gueye was injured – the third midfielder to be ruled out with a physical problem after Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes – but he waited until the 77th to send another midfielder Rafinha onto the field.
“It was not a tactical problem. There was a problem with the intensity and the attitude,” Tuchel said.
- Less than two months after reaching the Champions League final, PSG looked ordinary at best. Tuchel had no explanation as Neymar failed to score in four consecutive games in the competition for the first time since 2013.
“I don’t know. We had a lot of problems during the first half especially. We had a good preparation, with good games and good training sessions,” said Tuchel.
Tuchel, whose contract expires at the end of the season, said he had a bad feeling before kickoff at an empty Parc des Princes.
“The atmosphere in the dressing room before the match was a little bit too quiet,” he said. “I had a weird feeling. Usually there’s a lot of music, loud music and there it was very quiet.”