Interview

Marquinhos’s magic moment

Late drama has been a feature of the Champions League mini-tournament, starting from the opening quarter-final when Marquinhos’s 90th-minute goal drew Paris level against Atalanta, before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting added the winner deep into stoppage time. Here the Brazilian defender looks back on a night of joy for the Paris club, and ahead to their semi-final against Leipzig.

You went 1-0 down against Atalanta. How did the team react?

In football things happen really fast, things can change really quickly, as we showed. And they can change in our favour or against us. This has happened before, we’ve gone home sad and crying. And now we managed to change it in our favour. We’re experienced enough to know it’s not over until the referee blows the final whistle. We have to go for it, we have to believe. Our strategy was well planned; we were aware of Atalanta’s strengths and things we could exploit that would work for us. We were able to create chances and pose a threat to a very aggressive and strong team. We just had to keep going and try to score – that’s what was missing. We had our chances, but we weren’t able to score the goal. That is what we were able to do in the final minutes of the game.

How did you feel when you scored that goal?

It was an outpouring of feelings and emotions. As soon as I scored, I turned around and looked at my team-mates on the bench and in the stands. I have this image in my mind of them jumping and celebrating, not knowing how to celebrate, just running around, jumping, hugging each other. It was very good. And for me, personally, it was one of the strongest emotions I’ve experienced here at PSG.

What about the second goal? We saw Thomas Tuchel sitting there with his protective boot on and everyone else was celebrating joyfully. You scored right at the death...

We didn’t want it like that. Things just turned out that way, but it all means the same, right? We wanted to have settled that match earlier on, but we could also have lost this game, so in the end all was perfect as it was. Let’s not change anything because it was wonderful.

It was heart-stopping. Your family weren’t in the stadium but we heard your wife gave birth a few months ago. Congratulations! They must be sad that they missed it but they must have watched it on TV. What did they tell you after the game?

After the game I spoke to my wife and my daughter. I only saw my son the next day, because it was a late night. I think they were more excited than even I was. Players’ families often suffer more than we [footballers] do, because we’re on the pitch and we can change things there as we try to play, while our families can only support us. They can only send their positive vibes to us so we can do our best on the pitch. So the emotions are much bigger for those who are watching it. And when you watch the footage later on, in the hotel room after the adrenaline has gone, and you start seeing your friends’ videos, your family’s videos, my wife crying, my brother crying, when I score a goal and we get a win... So it was really wonderful and I hope we can take all these good vibes and confidence to the semi-final and play well.


Each year Paris are becoming more experienced in the Champions League. Do the players sense that?

We have a very capable team. Not only the first team players but, at the moment, our squad is much stronger compared to previous seasons. I believe we’re better represented in every position. We’ve had some injuries but we were able to maintain the same performance level with the players we’ve had available over the course of the season. I think this is our strength this season. The atmosphere has been really good; we get along on and off the pitch. It’s all part of our journey – scars, mistakes and difficulties we’ve been through. We’re not only together in the good times but also in the tough times. And that has created the bond and the good atmosphere we have.

Paris have had to wait 25 years to play in another semi-final in this competition…

All of this history is part [of the process] when you are pursuing your objectives. The club has improved a lot and is now more experienced. The mistakes you make, you try to set things straight in the following season, so you don’t repeat them. Huge investments have been made in the past few seasons to bring in great players, and also great professionals within the club; the club is better organised so that we can train and recover better. And all of this is part of the process and it’s required so that a big club is ready in the Champions League and can achieve consistent performances. We often see less traditional clubs become a surprise package in the Champions League, but those that are more traditional, structured clubs are regular contenders in the Champions League, which is what Paris has sought to achieve. 

What are your expectations for the match against Leipzig?

They are a young team and they are fearless, as they’ve shown already in this Champions League season. They’ve played great. In their previous match against Atlético de Madrid they totally dominated the game; they had great chances to score, playing with so much intensity, having so much possession and attacking fearlessly. So we know that we’ll have to give our best. Nowadays, relying on prestige doesn’t get you anywhere. We’ve seen that playing as a team, having a strategy and playing with strength make a huge difference on the pitch. So we simply have to do our best and play at our highest level. We have quality, talented players but we must come together and help each other on the pitch, give all that we have, put all of our effort and heart into what we love, which is football, and fight to win this. 

How determined are you to bring this trophy back to Paris?

Well, this competition is different from the quarter-final stages onwards. Given the present circumstances in the world, in our lives, I believe, following the pause because of the lockdown, winning it would be even better. Because these are one-off games only, we’re seeing plenty of excitement in all the matches. We’ve been following it from home because of the [pandemic] situation, so it’s having much more of an impact. And it’s now become like a World Cup of sorts. That’s why it’s been so joyful, so full of excitement, and it’s no different with us. So, indeed, [winning] it is our goal. We’re aiming to win this trophy because we’re ambitious. We want it, we have this dream. But we’re aware that it’s a long and hard road. There’ll be struggle, it won’t be easy, so it’s not enough to just dream about it. We will have to keep on and fight hard to win it.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

You went 1-0 down against Atalanta. How did the team react?

In football things happen really fast, things can change really quickly, as we showed. And they can change in our favour or against us. This has happened before, we’ve gone home sad and crying. And now we managed to change it in our favour. We’re experienced enough to know it’s not over until the referee blows the final whistle. We have to go for it, we have to believe. Our strategy was well planned; we were aware of Atalanta’s strengths and things we could exploit that would work for us. We were able to create chances and pose a threat to a very aggressive and strong team. We just had to keep going and try to score – that’s what was missing. We had our chances, but we weren’t able to score the goal. That is what we were able to do in the final minutes of the game.

How did you feel when you scored that goal?

It was an outpouring of feelings and emotions. As soon as I scored, I turned around and looked at my team-mates on the bench and in the stands. I have this image in my mind of them jumping and celebrating, not knowing how to celebrate, just running around, jumping, hugging each other. It was very good. And for me, personally, it was one of the strongest emotions I’ve experienced here at PSG.

What about the second goal? We saw Thomas Tuchel sitting there with his protective boot on and everyone else was celebrating joyfully. You scored right at the death...

We didn’t want it like that. Things just turned out that way, but it all means the same, right? We wanted to have settled that match earlier on, but we could also have lost this game, so in the end all was perfect as it was. Let’s not change anything because it was wonderful.

It was heart-stopping. Your family weren’t in the stadium but we heard your wife gave birth a few months ago. Congratulations! They must be sad that they missed it but they must have watched it on TV. What did they tell you after the game?

After the game I spoke to my wife and my daughter. I only saw my son the next day, because it was a late night. I think they were more excited than even I was. Players’ families often suffer more than we [footballers] do, because we’re on the pitch and we can change things there as we try to play, while our families can only support us. They can only send their positive vibes to us so we can do our best on the pitch. So the emotions are much bigger for those who are watching it. And when you watch the footage later on, in the hotel room after the adrenaline has gone, and you start seeing your friends’ videos, your family’s videos, my wife crying, my brother crying, when I score a goal and we get a win... So it was really wonderful and I hope we can take all these good vibes and confidence to the semi-final and play well.


Each year Paris are becoming more experienced in the Champions League. Do the players sense that?

We have a very capable team. Not only the first team players but, at the moment, our squad is much stronger compared to previous seasons. I believe we’re better represented in every position. We’ve had some injuries but we were able to maintain the same performance level with the players we’ve had available over the course of the season. I think this is our strength this season. The atmosphere has been really good; we get along on and off the pitch. It’s all part of our journey – scars, mistakes and difficulties we’ve been through. We’re not only together in the good times but also in the tough times. And that has created the bond and the good atmosphere we have.

Paris have had to wait 25 years to play in another semi-final in this competition…

All of this history is part [of the process] when you are pursuing your objectives. The club has improved a lot and is now more experienced. The mistakes you make, you try to set things straight in the following season, so you don’t repeat them. Huge investments have been made in the past few seasons to bring in great players, and also great professionals within the club; the club is better organised so that we can train and recover better. And all of this is part of the process and it’s required so that a big club is ready in the Champions League and can achieve consistent performances. We often see less traditional clubs become a surprise package in the Champions League, but those that are more traditional, structured clubs are regular contenders in the Champions League, which is what Paris has sought to achieve. 

What are your expectations for the match against Leipzig?

They are a young team and they are fearless, as they’ve shown already in this Champions League season. They’ve played great. In their previous match against Atlético de Madrid they totally dominated the game; they had great chances to score, playing with so much intensity, having so much possession and attacking fearlessly. So we know that we’ll have to give our best. Nowadays, relying on prestige doesn’t get you anywhere. We’ve seen that playing as a team, having a strategy and playing with strength make a huge difference on the pitch. So we simply have to do our best and play at our highest level. We have quality, talented players but we must come together and help each other on the pitch, give all that we have, put all of our effort and heart into what we love, which is football, and fight to win this. 

How determined are you to bring this trophy back to Paris?

Well, this competition is different from the quarter-final stages onwards. Given the present circumstances in the world, in our lives, I believe, following the pause because of the lockdown, winning it would be even better. Because these are one-off games only, we’re seeing plenty of excitement in all the matches. We’ve been following it from home because of the [pandemic] situation, so it’s having much more of an impact. And it’s now become like a World Cup of sorts. That’s why it’s been so joyful, so full of excitement, and it’s no different with us. So, indeed, [winning] it is our goal. We’re aiming to win this trophy because we’re ambitious. We want it, we have this dream. But we’re aware that it’s a long and hard road. There’ll be struggle, it won’t be easy, so it’s not enough to just dream about it. We will have to keep on and fight hard to win it.

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You went 1-0 down against Atalanta. How did the team react?

In football things happen really fast, things can change really quickly, as we showed. And they can change in our favour or against us. This has happened before, we’ve gone home sad and crying. And now we managed to change it in our favour. We’re experienced enough to know it’s not over until the referee blows the final whistle. We have to go for it, we have to believe. Our strategy was well planned; we were aware of Atalanta’s strengths and things we could exploit that would work for us. We were able to create chances and pose a threat to a very aggressive and strong team. We just had to keep going and try to score – that’s what was missing. We had our chances, but we weren’t able to score the goal. That is what we were able to do in the final minutes of the game.

How did you feel when you scored that goal?

It was an outpouring of feelings and emotions. As soon as I scored, I turned around and looked at my team-mates on the bench and in the stands. I have this image in my mind of them jumping and celebrating, not knowing how to celebrate, just running around, jumping, hugging each other. It was very good. And for me, personally, it was one of the strongest emotions I’ve experienced here at PSG.

What about the second goal? We saw Thomas Tuchel sitting there with his protective boot on and everyone else was celebrating joyfully. You scored right at the death...

We didn’t want it like that. Things just turned out that way, but it all means the same, right? We wanted to have settled that match earlier on, but we could also have lost this game, so in the end all was perfect as it was. Let’s not change anything because it was wonderful.

It was heart-stopping. Your family weren’t in the stadium but we heard your wife gave birth a few months ago. Congratulations! They must be sad that they missed it but they must have watched it on TV. What did they tell you after the game?

After the game I spoke to my wife and my daughter. I only saw my son the next day, because it was a late night. I think they were more excited than even I was. Players’ families often suffer more than we [footballers] do, because we’re on the pitch and we can change things there as we try to play, while our families can only support us. They can only send their positive vibes to us so we can do our best on the pitch. So the emotions are much bigger for those who are watching it. And when you watch the footage later on, in the hotel room after the adrenaline has gone, and you start seeing your friends’ videos, your family’s videos, my wife crying, my brother crying, when I score a goal and we get a win... So it was really wonderful and I hope we can take all these good vibes and confidence to the semi-final and play well.


Each year Paris are becoming more experienced in the Champions League. Do the players sense that?

We have a very capable team. Not only the first team players but, at the moment, our squad is much stronger compared to previous seasons. I believe we’re better represented in every position. We’ve had some injuries but we were able to maintain the same performance level with the players we’ve had available over the course of the season. I think this is our strength this season. The atmosphere has been really good; we get along on and off the pitch. It’s all part of our journey – scars, mistakes and difficulties we’ve been through. We’re not only together in the good times but also in the tough times. And that has created the bond and the good atmosphere we have.

Paris have had to wait 25 years to play in another semi-final in this competition…

All of this history is part [of the process] when you are pursuing your objectives. The club has improved a lot and is now more experienced. The mistakes you make, you try to set things straight in the following season, so you don’t repeat them. Huge investments have been made in the past few seasons to bring in great players, and also great professionals within the club; the club is better organised so that we can train and recover better. And all of this is part of the process and it’s required so that a big club is ready in the Champions League and can achieve consistent performances. We often see less traditional clubs become a surprise package in the Champions League, but those that are more traditional, structured clubs are regular contenders in the Champions League, which is what Paris has sought to achieve. 

What are your expectations for the match against Leipzig?

They are a young team and they are fearless, as they’ve shown already in this Champions League season. They’ve played great. In their previous match against Atlético de Madrid they totally dominated the game; they had great chances to score, playing with so much intensity, having so much possession and attacking fearlessly. So we know that we’ll have to give our best. Nowadays, relying on prestige doesn’t get you anywhere. We’ve seen that playing as a team, having a strategy and playing with strength make a huge difference on the pitch. So we simply have to do our best and play at our highest level. We have quality, talented players but we must come together and help each other on the pitch, give all that we have, put all of our effort and heart into what we love, which is football, and fight to win this. 

How determined are you to bring this trophy back to Paris?

Well, this competition is different from the quarter-final stages onwards. Given the present circumstances in the world, in our lives, I believe, following the pause because of the lockdown, winning it would be even better. Because these are one-off games only, we’re seeing plenty of excitement in all the matches. We’ve been following it from home because of the [pandemic] situation, so it’s having much more of an impact. And it’s now become like a World Cup of sorts. That’s why it’s been so joyful, so full of excitement, and it’s no different with us. So, indeed, [winning] it is our goal. We’re aiming to win this trophy because we’re ambitious. We want it, we have this dream. But we’re aware that it’s a long and hard road. There’ll be struggle, it won’t be easy, so it’s not enough to just dream about it. We will have to keep on and fight hard to win it.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Interview

Marquinhos’s magic moment

Late drama has been a feature of the Champions League mini-tournament, starting from the opening quarter-final when Marquinhos’s 90th-minute goal drew Paris level against Atalanta, before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting added the winner deep into stoppage time. Here the Brazilian defender looks back on a night of joy for the Paris club, and ahead to their semi-final against Leipzig.

You went 1-0 down against Atalanta. How did the team react?

In football things happen really fast, things can change really quickly, as we showed. And they can change in our favour or against us. This has happened before, we’ve gone home sad and crying. And now we managed to change it in our favour. We’re experienced enough to know it’s not over until the referee blows the final whistle. We have to go for it, we have to believe. Our strategy was well planned; we were aware of Atalanta’s strengths and things we could exploit that would work for us. We were able to create chances and pose a threat to a very aggressive and strong team. We just had to keep going and try to score – that’s what was missing. We had our chances, but we weren’t able to score the goal. That is what we were able to do in the final minutes of the game.

How did you feel when you scored that goal?

It was an outpouring of feelings and emotions. As soon as I scored, I turned around and looked at my team-mates on the bench and in the stands. I have this image in my mind of them jumping and celebrating, not knowing how to celebrate, just running around, jumping, hugging each other. It was very good. And for me, personally, it was one of the strongest emotions I’ve experienced here at PSG.

What about the second goal? We saw Thomas Tuchel sitting there with his protective boot on and everyone else was celebrating joyfully. You scored right at the death...

We didn’t want it like that. Things just turned out that way, but it all means the same, right? We wanted to have settled that match earlier on, but we could also have lost this game, so in the end all was perfect as it was. Let’s not change anything because it was wonderful.

It was heart-stopping. Your family weren’t in the stadium but we heard your wife gave birth a few months ago. Congratulations! They must be sad that they missed it but they must have watched it on TV. What did they tell you after the game?

After the game I spoke to my wife and my daughter. I only saw my son the next day, because it was a late night. I think they were more excited than even I was. Players’ families often suffer more than we [footballers] do, because we’re on the pitch and we can change things there as we try to play, while our families can only support us. They can only send their positive vibes to us so we can do our best on the pitch. So the emotions are much bigger for those who are watching it. And when you watch the footage later on, in the hotel room after the adrenaline has gone, and you start seeing your friends’ videos, your family’s videos, my wife crying, my brother crying, when I score a goal and we get a win... So it was really wonderful and I hope we can take all these good vibes and confidence to the semi-final and play well.


Each year Paris are becoming more experienced in the Champions League. Do the players sense that?

We have a very capable team. Not only the first team players but, at the moment, our squad is much stronger compared to previous seasons. I believe we’re better represented in every position. We’ve had some injuries but we were able to maintain the same performance level with the players we’ve had available over the course of the season. I think this is our strength this season. The atmosphere has been really good; we get along on and off the pitch. It’s all part of our journey – scars, mistakes and difficulties we’ve been through. We’re not only together in the good times but also in the tough times. And that has created the bond and the good atmosphere we have.

Paris have had to wait 25 years to play in another semi-final in this competition…

All of this history is part [of the process] when you are pursuing your objectives. The club has improved a lot and is now more experienced. The mistakes you make, you try to set things straight in the following season, so you don’t repeat them. Huge investments have been made in the past few seasons to bring in great players, and also great professionals within the club; the club is better organised so that we can train and recover better. And all of this is part of the process and it’s required so that a big club is ready in the Champions League and can achieve consistent performances. We often see less traditional clubs become a surprise package in the Champions League, but those that are more traditional, structured clubs are regular contenders in the Champions League, which is what Paris has sought to achieve. 

What are your expectations for the match against Leipzig?

They are a young team and they are fearless, as they’ve shown already in this Champions League season. They’ve played great. In their previous match against Atlético de Madrid they totally dominated the game; they had great chances to score, playing with so much intensity, having so much possession and attacking fearlessly. So we know that we’ll have to give our best. Nowadays, relying on prestige doesn’t get you anywhere. We’ve seen that playing as a team, having a strategy and playing with strength make a huge difference on the pitch. So we simply have to do our best and play at our highest level. We have quality, talented players but we must come together and help each other on the pitch, give all that we have, put all of our effort and heart into what we love, which is football, and fight to win this. 

How determined are you to bring this trophy back to Paris?

Well, this competition is different from the quarter-final stages onwards. Given the present circumstances in the world, in our lives, I believe, following the pause because of the lockdown, winning it would be even better. Because these are one-off games only, we’re seeing plenty of excitement in all the matches. We’ve been following it from home because of the [pandemic] situation, so it’s having much more of an impact. And it’s now become like a World Cup of sorts. That’s why it’s been so joyful, so full of excitement, and it’s no different with us. So, indeed, [winning] it is our goal. We’re aiming to win this trophy because we’re ambitious. We want it, we have this dream. But we’re aware that it’s a long and hard road. There’ll be struggle, it won’t be easy, so it’s not enough to just dream about it. We will have to keep on and fight hard to win it.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

You went 1-0 down against Atalanta. How did the team react?

In football things happen really fast, things can change really quickly, as we showed. And they can change in our favour or against us. This has happened before, we’ve gone home sad and crying. And now we managed to change it in our favour. We’re experienced enough to know it’s not over until the referee blows the final whistle. We have to go for it, we have to believe. Our strategy was well planned; we were aware of Atalanta’s strengths and things we could exploit that would work for us. We were able to create chances and pose a threat to a very aggressive and strong team. We just had to keep going and try to score – that’s what was missing. We had our chances, but we weren’t able to score the goal. That is what we were able to do in the final minutes of the game.

How did you feel when you scored that goal?

It was an outpouring of feelings and emotions. As soon as I scored, I turned around and looked at my team-mates on the bench and in the stands. I have this image in my mind of them jumping and celebrating, not knowing how to celebrate, just running around, jumping, hugging each other. It was very good. And for me, personally, it was one of the strongest emotions I’ve experienced here at PSG.

What about the second goal? We saw Thomas Tuchel sitting there with his protective boot on and everyone else was celebrating joyfully. You scored right at the death...

We didn’t want it like that. Things just turned out that way, but it all means the same, right? We wanted to have settled that match earlier on, but we could also have lost this game, so in the end all was perfect as it was. Let’s not change anything because it was wonderful.

It was heart-stopping. Your family weren’t in the stadium but we heard your wife gave birth a few months ago. Congratulations! They must be sad that they missed it but they must have watched it on TV. What did they tell you after the game?

After the game I spoke to my wife and my daughter. I only saw my son the next day, because it was a late night. I think they were more excited than even I was. Players’ families often suffer more than we [footballers] do, because we’re on the pitch and we can change things there as we try to play, while our families can only support us. They can only send their positive vibes to us so we can do our best on the pitch. So the emotions are much bigger for those who are watching it. And when you watch the footage later on, in the hotel room after the adrenaline has gone, and you start seeing your friends’ videos, your family’s videos, my wife crying, my brother crying, when I score a goal and we get a win... So it was really wonderful and I hope we can take all these good vibes and confidence to the semi-final and play well.


Each year Paris are becoming more experienced in the Champions League. Do the players sense that?

We have a very capable team. Not only the first team players but, at the moment, our squad is much stronger compared to previous seasons. I believe we’re better represented in every position. We’ve had some injuries but we were able to maintain the same performance level with the players we’ve had available over the course of the season. I think this is our strength this season. The atmosphere has been really good; we get along on and off the pitch. It’s all part of our journey – scars, mistakes and difficulties we’ve been through. We’re not only together in the good times but also in the tough times. And that has created the bond and the good atmosphere we have.

Paris have had to wait 25 years to play in another semi-final in this competition…

All of this history is part [of the process] when you are pursuing your objectives. The club has improved a lot and is now more experienced. The mistakes you make, you try to set things straight in the following season, so you don’t repeat them. Huge investments have been made in the past few seasons to bring in great players, and also great professionals within the club; the club is better organised so that we can train and recover better. And all of this is part of the process and it’s required so that a big club is ready in the Champions League and can achieve consistent performances. We often see less traditional clubs become a surprise package in the Champions League, but those that are more traditional, structured clubs are regular contenders in the Champions League, which is what Paris has sought to achieve. 

What are your expectations for the match against Leipzig?

They are a young team and they are fearless, as they’ve shown already in this Champions League season. They’ve played great. In their previous match against Atlético de Madrid they totally dominated the game; they had great chances to score, playing with so much intensity, having so much possession and attacking fearlessly. So we know that we’ll have to give our best. Nowadays, relying on prestige doesn’t get you anywhere. We’ve seen that playing as a team, having a strategy and playing with strength make a huge difference on the pitch. So we simply have to do our best and play at our highest level. We have quality, talented players but we must come together and help each other on the pitch, give all that we have, put all of our effort and heart into what we love, which is football, and fight to win this. 

How determined are you to bring this trophy back to Paris?

Well, this competition is different from the quarter-final stages onwards. Given the present circumstances in the world, in our lives, I believe, following the pause because of the lockdown, winning it would be even better. Because these are one-off games only, we’re seeing plenty of excitement in all the matches. We’ve been following it from home because of the [pandemic] situation, so it’s having much more of an impact. And it’s now become like a World Cup of sorts. That’s why it’s been so joyful, so full of excitement, and it’s no different with us. So, indeed, [winning] it is our goal. We’re aiming to win this trophy because we’re ambitious. We want it, we have this dream. But we’re aware that it’s a long and hard road. There’ll be struggle, it won’t be easy, so it’s not enough to just dream about it. We will have to keep on and fight hard to win it.

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You went 1-0 down against Atalanta. How did the team react?

In football things happen really fast, things can change really quickly, as we showed. And they can change in our favour or against us. This has happened before, we’ve gone home sad and crying. And now we managed to change it in our favour. We’re experienced enough to know it’s not over until the referee blows the final whistle. We have to go for it, we have to believe. Our strategy was well planned; we were aware of Atalanta’s strengths and things we could exploit that would work for us. We were able to create chances and pose a threat to a very aggressive and strong team. We just had to keep going and try to score – that’s what was missing. We had our chances, but we weren’t able to score the goal. That is what we were able to do in the final minutes of the game.

How did you feel when you scored that goal?

It was an outpouring of feelings and emotions. As soon as I scored, I turned around and looked at my team-mates on the bench and in the stands. I have this image in my mind of them jumping and celebrating, not knowing how to celebrate, just running around, jumping, hugging each other. It was very good. And for me, personally, it was one of the strongest emotions I’ve experienced here at PSG.

What about the second goal? We saw Thomas Tuchel sitting there with his protective boot on and everyone else was celebrating joyfully. You scored right at the death...

We didn’t want it like that. Things just turned out that way, but it all means the same, right? We wanted to have settled that match earlier on, but we could also have lost this game, so in the end all was perfect as it was. Let’s not change anything because it was wonderful.

It was heart-stopping. Your family weren’t in the stadium but we heard your wife gave birth a few months ago. Congratulations! They must be sad that they missed it but they must have watched it on TV. What did they tell you after the game?

After the game I spoke to my wife and my daughter. I only saw my son the next day, because it was a late night. I think they were more excited than even I was. Players’ families often suffer more than we [footballers] do, because we’re on the pitch and we can change things there as we try to play, while our families can only support us. They can only send their positive vibes to us so we can do our best on the pitch. So the emotions are much bigger for those who are watching it. And when you watch the footage later on, in the hotel room after the adrenaline has gone, and you start seeing your friends’ videos, your family’s videos, my wife crying, my brother crying, when I score a goal and we get a win... So it was really wonderful and I hope we can take all these good vibes and confidence to the semi-final and play well.


Each year Paris are becoming more experienced in the Champions League. Do the players sense that?

We have a very capable team. Not only the first team players but, at the moment, our squad is much stronger compared to previous seasons. I believe we’re better represented in every position. We’ve had some injuries but we were able to maintain the same performance level with the players we’ve had available over the course of the season. I think this is our strength this season. The atmosphere has been really good; we get along on and off the pitch. It’s all part of our journey – scars, mistakes and difficulties we’ve been through. We’re not only together in the good times but also in the tough times. And that has created the bond and the good atmosphere we have.

Paris have had to wait 25 years to play in another semi-final in this competition…

All of this history is part [of the process] when you are pursuing your objectives. The club has improved a lot and is now more experienced. The mistakes you make, you try to set things straight in the following season, so you don’t repeat them. Huge investments have been made in the past few seasons to bring in great players, and also great professionals within the club; the club is better organised so that we can train and recover better. And all of this is part of the process and it’s required so that a big club is ready in the Champions League and can achieve consistent performances. We often see less traditional clubs become a surprise package in the Champions League, but those that are more traditional, structured clubs are regular contenders in the Champions League, which is what Paris has sought to achieve. 

What are your expectations for the match against Leipzig?

They are a young team and they are fearless, as they’ve shown already in this Champions League season. They’ve played great. In their previous match against Atlético de Madrid they totally dominated the game; they had great chances to score, playing with so much intensity, having so much possession and attacking fearlessly. So we know that we’ll have to give our best. Nowadays, relying on prestige doesn’t get you anywhere. We’ve seen that playing as a team, having a strategy and playing with strength make a huge difference on the pitch. So we simply have to do our best and play at our highest level. We have quality, talented players but we must come together and help each other on the pitch, give all that we have, put all of our effort and heart into what we love, which is football, and fight to win this. 

How determined are you to bring this trophy back to Paris?

Well, this competition is different from the quarter-final stages onwards. Given the present circumstances in the world, in our lives, I believe, following the pause because of the lockdown, winning it would be even better. Because these are one-off games only, we’re seeing plenty of excitement in all the matches. We’ve been following it from home because of the [pandemic] situation, so it’s having much more of an impact. And it’s now become like a World Cup of sorts. That’s why it’s been so joyful, so full of excitement, and it’s no different with us. So, indeed, [winning] it is our goal. We’re aiming to win this trophy because we’re ambitious. We want it, we have this dream. But we’re aware that it’s a long and hard road. There’ll be struggle, it won’t be easy, so it’s not enough to just dream about it. We will have to keep on and fight hard to win it.

Penalty Pedigree

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