Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is no stranger to a mind game or two but he made the headlines last night with his assessment on Paris Saint-Germain. Speaking at his pre-match presser, the Portuguese claimed that Les Parisiens were the most ‘physical’ side his team have encountered this season.
It is a rather forthright claim by Mourinho and he was not mincing his words. The Blues boss said on the first-leg meeting; “I was surprised in that game. I was surprised because a team with fantastic players was the team with a record number of fouls, was the team making foul after foul, was the team which stopped Hazard with fouls all the time, was the team attacking the man in possession of the ball with two or three players with some very aggressive actions. Even a player like Zlatan, a typical attacking player, came back when they lost the ball and attacked Hazard from behind when we were countering”.
He went on to say that PSG’s physical nature was that bad it even came as a shock to a side that is used to the physicality in the English game.
“I thought an English team would never be surprised by aggression, because aggression we have in our country. This season we’ve played against sides from the Championship in the cups, against teams from League One and Shrewsbury from League Two, but the most aggressive team was PSG. For me, that was a real surprise. With players of such quality, I was expecting more football and less aggression”.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc was mellower in his presser but did play a mind game of his own by highlighting Diego Costa’s combative attitude which provokes a reaction. Blanc said; “He (Costa) likes contact and provokes opposition players. That’s part of his game. He thrives off that. He really needs that to bring out the best in his performances. The most important thing is to not get caught up in the way he plays. He will try to provoke a reaction. We need to stay calm, not get caught up in his game. We need to be as effective as possible in stopping him. It’s up to us to try to take some risks but not lose our heads and take unnecessary risks”.
A lot of comparisons have been made between PSG and Chelsea – largely down to the investment made by both clubs. PSG of course have only become relevant on the European stage in recent years and Blanc was keen to point out that patience is needed if the club is to reach the level of Chelsea and the other major forces in Europe; “In order to progress as a club you need experience. Paris Saint-Germain have got a little bit more experience, but we’re still a long way off having the same levels of experience as Chelsea. Chelsea took a long while to become one of the best sides in Europe. They also invested a lot of money to get there. We need to be patient. In order to become one of the top four or top six sides in Europe it does take time. We’ve started that process.”