‘Historic for us, for France’: Nasser Al-Khelaifi on PSG’s victory in Barcelona

It didn’t look probable after Barcelona put themselves two goals up in the tie after 12 minutes of tonight’s second leg, but Paris Saint-Germain roared back, in no small way thanks to Ronald Araujo’s first half red card, to seal a 6-4 aggregate victory and a place in the UEFA Champions League semi finals, where they will face Borussia Dortmund. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi cut a triumphant, yet measured figure after the game: 

“It’s magnificent. It’s historic for us, for France.. especially here in Barcelona , in this stadium after having lost the first leg. Everyone doubted us, criticised us, but I was very confident. The players, the staff and the coach showed today that we are a team. A great team. It’s a feeling of pride! It’s one of the best moments since I arrived. We want to celebrate tonight, but it’s not over. We need to focus on winning the league now. Of course there is Dortmund too, but the league is very important. We need to calm things down, think about what we did well, and not so well.”

One player who was quiet over most of the tie, but who came up clutch when it mattered was Kylian Mbappé. Criticised in the Spanish media after last week’s home defeat, the Frenchman responded emphatically to the doubters, but the PSG president was keen to stress it was a team effort: 

“It was the team tonight, not just one player. All eleven of them. They all showed a desire to win, we showed personality, character, starting with our coach Luis Enrique, who you know very well here in Barcelona. It’s a magnificent feeling, it’s fantastic. It’s very special for me.”

The question now is what the serial French champions can achieve this season, with Al-Khelaifi keen to stress the importance of not looking too far ahead: 

“We’re building a team, it’s always the same principal. We take it game by game, step by step. We are still far away. There is still the league, the cup and this semi-final, we have to be calm and go step by step.”

After a dramatic night in Barcelona, the atmosphere amongst the away fans and indeed in the bars and on the streets at home will be anything but calm tonight. 

GFFN | Jack McArdle

 

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