Paris Saint-Germain’s Giovani Lo Celso and Alphonse Areola admitted the Champions League is already on the minds of many squad members after a 3-0 Ligue 1 win at Lille on Saturday.
Lo Celso scored a sumptuous lobbed effort at Stade Pierre Mauroy to complete the victory, which was his first strike in Le Championnat, and he admitted after the final whistle that he is feeling confident after a recent run of matches.
“I am very pleased to have played a part in a collective victory against a difficult opponent,” Lo Celso. said “However, I am also very happy with my first Ligue 1 goal.
“I tried [the lob] because I am now feeling confident. Consequently, I took responsibility and managed to find the bottom corner.”
But with the Champions League round-of 16 encounter against Real Madrid on the horizon, the Argentina international conceded that their focus will be split over the next week and a half.
“Of course [Real] is on our minds — they will be big matches,” he said. We have other important games to concentrate on as well, though, and they are equally as necessary.”
Goalkeeper Areola kept another clean sheet and made a smart save in the first half, and the homegrown Frenchman also admitted that Real away at Santiago Bernabeu in less than a fortnight is something that he and his teammates are looking forward to.
“Yes, we are thinking about [Real Madrid] but we have some other games coming up first,” Areola told Canal+. “We scored three goals without reply here and that is important to emphasise — we need to continue like this.
“We are happy when things unfold this way, of course. It was up to us to impose ourselves, like we usually do, and we return to Paris with maximum points. It is always difficult for our opponents to chase the ball and [keeping possession] was our strength here.”
Neymar scored a brilliant late free kick to make it 2-0 before Lo Celso’s wonderful and delicate effort and the Brazilian superstar conceded that his teammate’s effort was probably more spectacular than his on the night.
“It was important to win here,” Neymar said. “We did that and we remain well ahead of second place. I am pleased with our performance and happy to have scored, of course. The team deserves congratulations.
Asked about the high level of difficulty in his and Giovani’s goals, Neymar added: “Indeed, we did both score lovely efforts, but I think his was more beautiful!”
Captain Thiago Silva was also happy with the result and confirmed that his knee is feeling good after a recent knock against Montpellier and the Brazil international expects to be fine between now and Real.
“It is a good result away from home and that will breed confidence,” said Silva. “We are on a run of five consecutive matches away from home, so things are complicated. We are solid in defence and efficient in attack. That is perfect!
“[My knee] is nothing serious — I will be there against Real.”
Coach Unai Emery was also happy with the result and he was particularly cuffed with the improved second half display.
“We are pleased with the three points,” the Spaniard said. “I think that the team put in a good performance. Overall, we controlled the match.
“In the first half, we allowed Lille a few chances. In the second half, though, we exploited the small spaces left by them.
“It was a serious display — we took all three points and we remain 11 points clear. It is good for our confidence. The team did a good job here.”
PSG now travel to Ligue 2 side Sochaux in the Coupe de France next Tuesday before Toulouse away in Ligue 1 leads them into the Real Champions League clash.
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