10:57 AM ET
Mauricio Pochettino has called for time to turn Paris Saint-Germain’s squad of superstars into a team capable of winning the Champions League.
Despite adding Lionel Messi to a forward line that already included Kylian Mbappe and Neymar over the summer, PSG were held to a 1-1 draw by Club Brugge in their opening group stage game.
PSG also needed late winners to beat Lyon and Metz in Ligue 1 this month and ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with Manchester City in Paris, Pochettino said it will take time for his stars to gel.
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“It is a fact we are a team under construction,” Pochettino told a news conference on Monday.
“That is not an opinion. We have to apply common sense. Look back in history in terms of how we have prepared the team. PSG are under construction. It is not up for debate. Man City have been under the best coach in the world, in my opinion, Pep Guardiola. They want to win the Champions League. I would add some teams to that list, there are about 15 that can win it.”
PSG reached the Champions League final in 2020 but were knocked out in the semifinal of last year’s competition by City.
PSG and City are considered joint favourites to win the trophy this season but Pochettino said his team still have some catching up to do to reach the level of Pep Guardiola’s English champions.
“Winning the Champions League would be a dream for us,” Pochettino said. “The club is 50 years old and has always been looking to establish itself as the best in Europe. This is a process that takes time, patience and investment. In terms of that process, Man City are further ahead than PSG but we know that in a football match anything can happen.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino wants time for his team to hit winning ways. Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
“In terms of desire and our ability to understand the game against City and the way they attack, we will try to find their weaknesses and enhance our strengths. Our philosophy is something that is there to see.”
Messi has missed PSG’s last two games with a knee injury after being substituted during the 2-1 win over Lyon.
He is back in training and is set to be involved against City, although Pochettino hinted he may have to settle for a place on the bench.
“He is in the same position as Marco [Verratti],” Pochettino said when asked about Messi’s fitness.
“He is in a very good way. I think he will be in the squad but I still haven’t decided on the starting XI.”