Paris Saint-Germain: Buffon set to fight for place
Rahul Warrier spoke with Thomas Tuchel and Gianluigi Buffon ahead of PSG’s friendly with Atletico Madrid.
For Thomas Tuchel, this pre-season is more about managing expectations and fitness levels than it is about results. A natural consequence of the World-Cup – given numerous Paris Saint-Germain stars played for their national teams – their pre-season was going to provide opportunities for the reserves more so than anyone else.
It also meant, that as key names returned from their holidays, each one would be slowly eased into regular game-time, with fans therefore set for disappointment today.
“I have to be the reasonable one…”
Whilst Angel Di Maria arrived in Singapore on Sunday, Tuchel all but confirmed that he will not be playing tomorrow. “I can confirm there will be no Neymar and Cavani in Singapore. I know fans want to see Di Maria, and if I ask him he will say he wants to play. But I have to be the reasonable one. The risk is too high,” said Tuchel.
“There is a big difference in arriving and being able to play.” The same will apply to the likes of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva, who are rumoured to land in Singapore on Monday. There will also be further disappointment for fans hoping to see Julian Draxler take the field.
“We will see about the team tomorrow. The doctor said there was no serious injury. But Draxler felt some pain in the last training and will not play. Kurzawa and Verratti were rested yesterday and they may be given some minutes tomorrow.”
For Tuchel, the road to the season is a slow but steady path and he will not rush anyone into action for the sake of it. “My true belief is to take care of today and not worry about tomorrow. I am not afraid of letting young guys play when they are fit and ready. They have it in their own hands.”
“We have to see when the whole team will be at 100%. I will not set any limit. It is a big challenge to keep still and hopefully the players are able to learn and adapt fast. This is a big opportunity for the young guys, who are giving everything. I am happy with the performances, if not the result. They played well for 60 to 65 minutes.”
Buffon and the goalkeeping situation
Meanwhile, Gianluigi Buffon, PSG’s sole signing so far – discounting Kylian Mbappe – adds to a position that is already brimming with confidence. Tuchel joked that he will let goalkeeping coach Gianluca Spinelli decide who started, as he is happy to have such competition in every place like he does at goal.
The Italian, however, was much more circumspect in his response, with personal aims that go beyond game-time. “I haven’t spoken to Areola. I have always been selected on merit. I want to develop the other keepers at the club too,” said Buffon.
“Kevin Trapp and I have a great relationship and he has the qualities of a top ‘keeper. Cibois and Descamps have a great work ethic and can have successful careers if they channel mental strength. Spinelli is an important coach and a factor in me continuing to improve and build up the younger ‘keepers.”
The final step in a glittering career
The Italian considers PSG to be the final step in his career, and it is clear that the club provides him with a myriad of challenges that go beyond first glance.
“I am happy to be here – there is a good feeling at the club. I am not a spectator at Juventus, it is a great club like PSG, and I hope to continue to maintain the high level of competition here. I relish the new challenge and it was the right time to make a move so I can close my playing days,” said Buffon.
“The motivation is to continue to play at a high level and get a new challenge. This move will develop me personally, and as a player.”
This is PSG’s last friendly before the more significant Monaco clash in Shenzhen on 4th August. It is an opportunity to get further game-time under their belts. Tuchel will value the run-out tomorrow more than the result against an evenly balanced side.