LISBON (Reuters) - If Angel Di Maria was the brightest player on the pitch as Paris St Germain beat RB Leipzig 3-0 to reach their first Champions League final on Tuesday, it is the French champions’ defence that was the most praised by coach Thomas Tuchel.
PSG have only conceded five goals in 10 games, the best record in this season’s competition, and at the Estadio da Luz they were solid again in a 4-3-3 formation.
“I was never relaxed, but how we defended was also the most important thing for me. We had a good mix between determination, spirit and quality,” said Tuchel.
“Before the game I felt the pressure. I have players who are used to that kind of pressure.”
World Cup winner Presnel Kimpembe and Thiago Silva were at their best in central defence while full back Juan Bernat once again raised his level in the Champions League and also got on the scoresheet.
The defensive midfielders - Ander Herrera, Leandro Paredes and Marquinhos - proved to be a nightmare for their counterparts as Leipzig were easily contained for the majority of the match.
“We were extremely focused and came into the game with a great mindset and when we’re like that we’re hard to stop. We were superior in every department of the game,” said goalkeeper Sergio Rico, deputizing for the injured Keylor Navas.
PSG had the right balance against lively opponents but Tuchel said they still needed to adapt against the young German side.
“We didn’t make big tactical changes. Yes, we adapt to all our opponents, but not too much. We have to show our strength, and the players again showed their hunger to win, work together and suffer,” Tuchel noted.
“We stayed faithful to our style of play. When possible, we looked to control the half-spaces and control their counterattacks. And we used the acceleration of Angel (Di Maria), Kylian (Mbappe) and Neymar with the ball between the lines,” the German coach added.
PSG will play their first European final since they reached the Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1997 against Bayern Munich or Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday.
Asked if Sunday’s final was his biggest challenge, Tuchel said: “Obviously. It’s the Champions League final. It’s the biggest game of my career.”
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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