One of Thomas Tuchel’s first official acts as coach of Paris Saint-Germain was to tell the players what to eat and drink. France Football magazine reported in July that Tuchel had imposed strict dietary requirements on his stars, such as cutting off their lemonade. He is also said to have asked the owners of popular nightclubs to inform him if PSG pros show up.
It’s a bizarre idea: Thomas Tuchel, whose greatest success was the 2017 DFB Cup victory, bans Neymar from playing cola and Kylian Mbappé from celebrating. Can that go well?
It’s going well. So far at least. As expected, Paris won the Supercup – 4:0 against Monaco, followed by five wins from five league games, goal ratio: 17:4. There was no match in which the team scored less than three goals. But there hasn’t been a game in which they have been seriously challenged. The acid test follows in the evening, when the Champions League goes to FC Liverpool, last year’s finalist. Tuchel against Jürgen Klopp, the old Bruchweg boys in a duel, promises the best entertainment.
Regulations also on the pitch
While coach Klopp and the team have long since found each other in Liverpool, PSG and Tuchel are still getting to know each other. Tuchel is employed for the first time by a club that belongs to Europe’s elite, following engagements in Dortmund and Mainz. Conversely, its regulations are likely to be new for the Parisian superstars. Especially on the pitch.
Unlike Klopp, for example, Tuchel focuses on position play. This means that he gives his team zones that must be occupied depending on the playing situation. In the ball possession game, the team is given a fixed structure. Ideally, every professional always knows where his team-mate stands.
When Tuchel followed Klopp in summer 2015 in Dortmund and the position game replaced Klopp’s switch focus, the BVB developed a new offensive balance. The team scored 82 goals in Tuchel’s first season, almost twice as many as last year under Klopp. Already in its first weeks in Dortmund the goals fell, as if the players followed a scheme.
“The players must have respect”
If you look at the previous PSG games under Tuchel, you will see some patterns. But hits don’t fall as if they had been designed on the drawing board, as in the Dortmund early stages; they fall mainly because of the individual class of the striker stars.
It’s a fundamental area of tension for Tuchel in Paris: How does he bring his targets together with the freethinkers in the offensive? Tuchel recently provided answers during a TV appearance on the RMC channel.
“The players must have respect for each other’s rooms. Even the big players,” said Tuchel. Neymar, for example. Last season, the Brazilian hadn’t waited for his team-mates to find him; he grabbed the balls himself and pushed the Paris attacks forward. With success, 32 goals in 20 Ligue 1 appearances testify to that. Check this betregal offers and best quotes for this game.
Tuchel recently used the 26-year-old in the offensive midfield, between the storm and the defensive centre. Neymar should wait there before he gets passes from his teammates.
“We have to give our teammates the space they’re standing in,” says Tuchel. But he also says: “As soon as the players are found in these rooms, I won’t pretend anything anymore.” Then Neymar or Mbappé would find solutions that only they could find. Neymar in particular is “an artist,” says Tuchel: “There are different kinds of leaders, but he is a very special key player.