While Paris St Germain have had a clear playing style this season, the French champions looked completely lost when it came to dealing with Newcastle United’s high-intensity pressing in their 4-1 defeat at St James’ Park on Wednesday.
The result left PSG with three points from two games in the Champions League Group F, and with questions to answer about their character and lack of a ‘Plan B’.
PSG started with an extremely offensive system – Manuel Ugarte and Warren Zaire-Emery the only two proper midfielders behind the attacking quartet of Kylian Mbappe, Goncalo Ramos, Ousmane Dembele and Randall Kolo Muani.
They could not handle Newcastle’s fury and were quickly overwhelmed.
“They put us in difficulty in the midfield, yes, where we were outnumbered. It was not easy,” said defender Lucas Hernandez, who scored PSG’s goal in the second half.
PSG returned to the dressing room trailing 2-0, having only threatened through Dembele early on and clearly needing more control in midfield.
While the situation should have prompted Enrique to make adjustments at halftime it was the same 11 who started the second half, and PSG conceded another goal in the 50th minute.
PSG enjoyed almost 70% possession but were unable to create dangerous opportunities and made several big errors, with Marquinhos’ woeful clearance leading to Miguel Almiron’s opener.
“I am responsible for this result,” Enrique said, without giving a fuller explanation.
While he praised the players’ attitude, the front four failed to press while Ugarte was never in the mix in the midfield, with only Zaire-Emery rising to the occasion.
“I don’t know where the problems are but we are going to look into it to improve,” Zaire-Emery said.
PSG’s next Champions League fixture is against AC Milan at the Parc des Princes and Hernandez said they had to “learn from our mistakes”.
“We’re all aware of our role to play,” he added. “And it’s up to us to show it on the pitch, not in front of the cameras and microphones.”