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Before a decisive match on Wednesday against the Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League, Marco Verratti tells with passion, his life, his fitness and the renewal of the PSG under the leadership of Thomas Tuchel. Interview with leparisien.fr
Marco Verratti can’t wait to return to the Champions League on Wednesday night, seven months after his expulsion against Real Madrid. A sanction that had earned him to be suspended in Liverpool, two weeks ago, in the failed debut of PSG (3-2 loss). Operated from his adductors early May, the Italian said that he is in good shape. He granted us (Le Parisien) an exclusive interview.
What is your state of form? Are you already 100%?
MARCO VERRATTI. Yes, I had some tough times last year. I played a lot of games with pains. Today, I feel really good, I do not feel anything. I have solved all my problems with the adductors.
Why did you play so little in August? Were you injured again?
We had talked with the coach in China. We were not many, so we made efforts to play the match against Monaco. Then we knew we would do another preparation here. That’s why, during the first four games of the season, I always train with the team, I worked the physics, but I did not play. It was planned like that. I wanted to go back to 100%. It’s at the end of the year that you have to be in shape to play all the games.
How have you lived in the last two years and are you afraid of being bothered by other injuries?
The injuries I had were not like breaking a knee. You never know where you are at. Before being operated, you try to do everything to avoid the operation. That’s how I missed a lot of important games in two years. That’s why we decided to make both operations a year apart, because there was no other way. Now, an injury can happen at any time, but what I had is settled through these two operations.
Paternity sometimes influences injuries. This was the case for Javier Pastore. How do you manage your sleep since the birth of your second child in January?
My wife helps me a lot for that. She does not work, she takes care of the children a lot at night. Especially before the games, if I am home, she lets me sleep.
You have a reputation as a bon vivant. Have you adapted your lifestyle to avoid new injuries?
We talk a lot about my lifestyle. I accept everything, but I do not lead the life that people says I do. I am a man like everyone else. When I have free time, I take advantage of my family, my friends. I do not go out every night. If I do that, I can’t go home because my wife would kill me! I have children who wake up at 7 am every morning and have to go to school. My injuries, it’s not a problem of hygiene of life. I live always the same way.
Is it true that Thomas Tuchel banned sodas and sandwiches?
Yes, it’s true. On the bus, on my first trip, I asked for a Coke and there was none. When we went to Nice, I saw that there was nothing at all.
Do you like the many game systems he tries to set up?
I was born and raised in Italian football. A football training in Italy is 45 minutes of tactics out of 90 minutes. In France, it’s a different football. It can help a lot to master several systems. This can be useful for winning a Champions League match. That’s why the coach likes to do this job. What appeals me the most is that he reads the matches very well. When there is a small change to make, we see on the ground that with a small change, we feel better. It’s a great coaching quality.
Does he look like Carlo Ancelotti in his relationship with players?
Yes, the coach is very close to the players. This is what we like, the whole team and me, he is straight forward. He really tells you what he thinks. Sometimes, it’s not pretty, but he tells you. He is a good person and he helps you to follow him, to give 100% for him. We know that he works a lot and that he wants the best of us. To achieve great goals, you all have to walk in the same direction. And, this year, we have a good understanding with the coach and the staff.
Why does Tuchel seem more listened to than Emery?
All coaches have a different way to go towards the players, to make them understand things. Sometimes with Emery, it was a little complicated.
The difference is in the human relationship?
I think, yes. Tuchel does not play. We see that he is happy in training. We train with a smile but we are always serious, we know what we do. Work hard but with a smile, this is the best method. In the end, football is always a sport, even if you are well paid and it has become a job for everyone. Coming to training in a bad mood, it does not work. We are smiling again, we had lost it a bit.
Does Tuchel sometimes get angry?
Yes of course. He says things directly. We like that. When he has to congratulate the team, he does it. When there are things that do not work, he says it too. Sometimes he does it in front of everyone, because some situations involve a player but must be understood by the whole team. Sometimes he takes us individually. We have a lot of exchanges. For the moment, it’s really a big surprise for everyone at this level, because we needed a coach like that.
Has the mood changed in the group since last season?
All the coaches are different, the trainings too. Now, we have fun, we feel good. We get good results, despite the defeat at Liverpool. We feel alive, we feel good.
What does the retirement of Thiago Motta change?
Thiago Motta is a very strong and very intelligent player. With him, we had a certain way of playing. We lost a really important man in the locker room. He has a great personality. It’s hard to replace players like that. We miss him, of course, but we have to move on.
Do you consider, like Tuchel or Thiago Silva, that his successor is missing in the squad?
It’s a club choice. I think they really tried to take a No. 6. I like playing with the best in the world and they are welcome. But we are happy with the team we have. The coach will find solutions as with Marquinhos or Adri (Rabiot). The coach sets up a very direct system, where we want to give fast passes forward to Di Maria, Cavani, Mbappé or Neymar.
You have the most expensive attack and one of the most talented in the world. Does this mean that you must, first and foremost, work for the MCN?
Yes. We have players who can make a difference. We know that two, three players are there and they are the best. They must be happy. It is also up to us to put them in the best conditions. I think Kylian, Ney or Cavani are doing nice things here. I hope they will continue like this.
Do you feel pressure before hosting Belgrade and after the defeat in Liverpool?
Here in Paris, I think we always have this pressure. After losing first and playing at home, we are almost obliged to win.
How did you experience Liverpool’s failure as a spectator?
When you are off the field, you suffer even more because you can not help your teammates. They were a bit too criticized after the match. It’s not easy to play Liverpool. Few teams will go there to play the game and win. Character has been shown back to 2-2. If we had lost our cool, they could have scored 4 or 5-0. In the last minutes, we were a bit stupid. Maybe, we could have done better. Sometimes a draw is not bad at all.
But after Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern, it’s a new defeat away against a big one from Europe. Is there a blockage?
No, it’s not a blockage. Each time, we were close … We are sad after these defeats. But I think that if you’re close to winning, you’ve done a good job too. These are small episodes, little things to improve. In Madrid, in the second half, we were sure to bring back the win and we lost 3-1. Sometimes, it’s also our fault. We must be a little smarter, more vicious. That’s why it’s important for a group to be well together. There are times when you have to know how to suffer, to defend at eleven, and to make the greatest efforts not to offer easy goals.