Successive failures in the Champions League last 16 made big spending Paris St Germain a laughing stock but after two years in charge coach Thomas Tuchel has found the right balance and turned the tide.
PSG were barely bothered in a 3-0 thrashing of RB Leipzig as they reached the final of Europe’s premium club competition in style on Tuesday.
While Neymar and Angel Di Maria dazzled up front with the recovering Kylian Mbappe always a potential danger, a steely midfield and a solid defence made sure there would be no surprises.
“The forwards’ defensive work? I’ve already said that we knew we had to do it. Now we have to be consistent in doing the efforts the team need, not just for three or four matches,” Mbappe, who shook off an ankle injury to take part in the Final Eight in Lisbon, said in January.
They did just that against Leipzig, allowing the full backs to throw themselves forward and the midfieders to play higher up the pitch.
This resulted in full back Juan Bernat scoring the last goal and midfielder Leandro Paredes being in Leipzig’s half to collect a poor clearance and find Neymar in the box for the Brazilian to set up Di Maria on the second goal.
“Defensively, they were solid, everybody made efforts,” former PSG coach Luis Fernandez told French sports daily L’Equipe on Wednesday.
“I saw the Liverpool of Jurgen Klopp with Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino pressing up front.”
PSG will face either Bayern Munich or fellow Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais in Sunday’s showpiece, their first European final since the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1997.
“We deserve to be here,” said captain Thiago Silva, who will play his last game for PSG after joining in 2012.
“I am proud of my team, especially of their mindset. We had this obsession not to concede a goal.”