1/15/2019 11:00:51 PM

PSG’s real season starts with Manchester United test

PSG’s real season starts with Manchester United test

Doha, Qatar: The spectacular, climate-controlled, Khalifa International Stadium would be a venue for several of the Paris Saint-Germain stars to display their dazzling skills to the world when it hosts the 2022 World Cup matches four years from now.

But that was probably not the dominant thought for the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani when they trained at the beautiful arena on Tuesday evening in front of an admiring crowd, even though their skipper was among the first to talk about the World Cup in perfect weather conditions in Qatar.

Silva said the stadium was amazing. “It’s an amazing stadium, and the atmosphere, with so much crowd around, was amazing,” said Silva.

“It’s good to prepare ourselves for the next challenges in this perfect weather,” said the Brazil defender, adding that the World Cup in 2022 would be played in perfect weather conditions.

PSG resume their Ligue 1 title march on Saturday against Guingamp, with whom they have a score to settle after losing to them in the French League Cup quarterfinal. Then they have a French Cup game followed by potentially tricky fixtures against Rennes, Lyon and Bordeaux.

Silva’s prime concern would be none of these either, for, given PSG’s domestic form,  these teams are not really expected to trouble the champions.

But come February 12 and it’s another setting and a different challenge.

PSG take on Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16 first-leg tie at Old Trafford, and that’s where their real season starts.

Champions League has been an unhappy hunting ground for the Parisians and Thomas Tuchel would be eager to cross the last-16 hurdle first, before they set their sights on loftier targets.

They lost to Real Madrid in the round of 16 last season, while the defeat to Barcelona the year before that was utterly heartbreaking. PSG had won the first leg 4-0 only to fall apart in the closing minutes of the game, conceding three goals at the death to go down 1-6.

Champions League is undoubtedly PSG’s main aim and if any team has the ammunition to go on and win it, Tuchel and his men are the ones.

Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani can carve through any defence while PSG’s own defensive line of Thiago Silva, Presnel Kimpembe, Layvin Kurzawa, Thomas Meunier, Dani Alves, Juan Bernat, Marquinhos, is one of the strongest in Europe.

Neymar, the brightest among the stars of PSG, said they would be ready for Manchester United.

“We will be fully motivated to play Manchester United in the Champions League. We will be ready for them,” said the Brazilian superstar.

Earlier on Monday, Mbappe had said that United would pose a tough challenge.

"I think Manchester United is always a top side," said Mbappe. "It's not easy to play any team in the Champions League, we are going to do our best."

Edinson Cavani, the other name in the famed and fearsome triumvirate said that United now have a renewed vigour.

“I think after the departure of Jose Mourinho Manchester United has a new energy," said Cavani, "They have started to win matches and have more continuity."

Since the Qatari take over in 2011, PSG have undoubtedly been a big player in European football but for them to be considered in the same league as Barcelona and Real Madrid, they need to win big in Europe.

Old Trafford on February 12 could be a good place to start their journey.
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