Paris Saint-Germain have been called the squad to beat in the Champions League since Lionel Messi arrived at the end of the season, but coach Mauricio Pochettino has warned he has yet to transform his brilliant team of players in one team.
PSG have signed Messi as Barcelona free agent to form a formidable attacking trio with French striker Kylian Mbappe and Brazilian striker Neymar but they have yet to show what they are capable of together.
“We are not a team yet. We are a club which has signed a lot of players this summer. There are big names but we have to transform into a team,” Pochettino said at a press conference on Tuesday at the eve of their opening of the group. A match at Club Brugge.
“We are a group of players who have to get results. We have the feeling that we (PSG and Chelsea) are the two teams to beat, but Chelsea are starting so this is the team to beat especially after strengthening its workforce. “
Captain Marquinhos said there was “no extra pressure” to win the Champions League since Messi signed his two-year contract one summer when former Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos and midfielder from Liverpool Georginio Wijnaldum have also arrived.
“We live with the pressure every season, especially when you play for PSG. It is an integral part of it,” said the Brazilian.
“With the team we have, people are going to talk about it even more. We are delighted to have such players with us but there is no additional pressure, there is only positive to take. “
PSG reached the Champions League semi-finals last season and were a finalist in 2020 but never won the European elite club competition.
Pochettino said he has yet to decide whether Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, who have so far only played half an hour with PSG, will all play at the Jan Breydel stadium, explaining that he will take his decision after Tuesday’s practice session.
If they played together, Marquinhos said he had no concerns about how the team would defend themselves.
“If the three are in front, they are experienced players, they know that we have to be compact and defend together, and we know that the defense has to play high to put them in the best condition,” he explained.
“If there is anything to say, I will certainly say it.”
Pochettino has choices to make in attack but perhaps more importantly he will have to choose between Keylor Navas and Gianluigi Donnarumma to play in goal after the Italian keeper joined the club after leading the Azzurri to the European title.
“We’ll decide game by game. I think that’s the fairest thing. The reality is that having these two in the squad makes us happy,” he said.
“The season is long and having them will be beneficial for the club. Every player knows that when you sign for PSG there will be competition. It is very clear that there are only 11 holders including only one goalkeeper start.”