PSG more ready for Real Madrid now than for Barca last year – Unai Emery
PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has said that his club are more ready for their Champions League round-of-16 tie with Real Madrid next week than they were for Barcelona at the same point last campaign.
Speaking at a prematch news conference ahead of PSG’s Ligue 1 trip to Toulouse on Saturday, Emery feels that his players are ready for the challenge that awaits them at Santiago Bernabeu and more so than they were for their ill-fated outing at Camp Nou a year ago.
“The team is better prepared this season than last,” Emery said at a snowy Camp des Loges. “The team has grown the same way that the club has grown.
“We need to continue this way. We all want to demonstrate this [in Madrid].”
Emery also said that Brazilian superstar Neymar is ready after being rested for the 4-1 Coupe de France round-of-16 win away at Ligue 2 side Sochaux on Tuesday.
“Neymar has been training well,” Emery said. “I think that he really wants to play in Toulouse. Everything is fine, normal — we have managed his playing time carefully.”
Emery also praised Angel Di Maria, who scored three of PSG’s four goals in midweek amid speculation that he could start away at former club Real Madrid next week.
“Angel is doing well right now,” Emery said. “He has been a breath of fresh air [since the start of 2018].
“He decided to stay when he had the chance to leave and go elsewhere to play. Angel is an important player for us.”
Emery also confessed that although he is not 100 percent sure of his starting XI at the Bernabeu, he has an idea of how he will line his PSG side up.
“There is a match on Saturday and we still have a few training sessions,” Emery said. “Today, I cannot say what the starting XI will be in Madrid.
“I have an idea, of course, as we have worked the whole season to reach a moment like this one and we have analysed all of the possible information to make the best decisions.”
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.