What better gift, to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, than to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League? On Wednesday, at 9 p.m., Paris Saint-Germain will play a little more than a quarter-final of the queen-competition in Europe, at the Luz stadium, in a city of Lisbon not really lively. Faced with Atalanta Bergamo, the Parisian club will try to write one of the most beautiful pages of its history officially started on August 12, 1970. It will also try to erase the curse that wants the last square to always refuse to him since l arrival of the Qataris in 2011.
To achieve this, PSG will have to successfully enter the "Final 8", an unprecedented formula caused by the coronavirus crisis and UEFA's desire to finish the competition at all costs. This format of knockout matches, behind closed doors and under high health surveillance, offers him a unique opportunity to materialize the eight seasons of huge investments by his owners in historic consecration with only three victories.
Mbappé uncertain, Neymar expected
But as often in important matches in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain will not be able to count on its full squad. Marco Verratti is forfeited and Kylian Mbappé still delicate with his ankle and uncertain to start the match, while coach Thomas Tuchel even suffered a foot injury.
In a cleaver match, which leaves no room for error "a bit like a World Cup" dixit Neymar, PSG can however count on its Brazilian N.10, finally operational at this level to hoist PSG on the roof of Europe. It remains to first eliminate Bergamo, martyr city of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe and surprise team of the season in Serie A, without Verratti or Angel Di Maria, suspended.
Wednesday evening, Thomas Tuchel intends to play in a more cautious 4-3-3 game system, where Pablo Sarabia is the favorite to accompany Neymar and Mauro Icardi in attack. The Parisian offensive line will have to reassure because since the resumption, it has scored only one goal in 210 minutes of competition, despite everything winning two trophies.
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"Warriors" wanted by Marquinhos
Opposite, Bergamo will however have to do without two executives: goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and especially striker Josip Ilicic, author of 20 goals this season, including a memorable quadruple in the round of 16 return to Valencia. Without the most talented player of this squad of players with non-linear careers, the Italian club however has other assets to surprise against one of the favorites of the tournament. From creative captain "Papu" Gomez to powerful center-forward Duvan Zapata, not to mention Ruslan Malinovskyi, Mario Pasalic and Luis Muriel, all dream of shining in the eyes of the whole world to pay tribute to the 17,000 victims of Covid-19 in Lombardy.
Can the Parisian armada finally ward off fate? "We will have to give everything for 90 minutes, like warriors. We must not have any regrets," insisted the defender and soul of the Parisian team, Marquinhos, seduced by this particular format: "I like it, we must have a good strategy and be present in this kind of fight. " The qualification and the successful anniversary come at this price.