How PSG’s new stadium helps the team win the Champions League

Written by Anna Grey, CNN The UEFA Champions League draws to a close this weekend with a final between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. The football season in France kicks off the following week and…

How PSG's new stadium helps the team win the Champions League

Written by Anna Grey, CNN

The UEFA Champions League draws to a close this weekend with a final between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. The football season in France kicks off the following week and the mega-clubs of the country will meet again, on Saturday.

CNN spoke to Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi about how the league prepares players for the tournament and why PSG is the most “ideal” place to win it again.

Over the years, PSG has made an impact on soccer on a global scale. The new stadium in Paris, built to cost €400 million, was described by UEFA in January as “one of the most eye-catching structures” in football.

Does that building help PSG’s performance in the competition?

The stadium does help but we have another wonderful asset: the new PSG playing surface, which makes us faster and fitter. I’m happy to help the team play a faster brand of football.

And then there’s Neymar , who has led PSG to a perfect start in the league since arriving from Barcelona. What does he bring to the team?

He brings players to the same level. He’s a team player and plays for the whole team. Of course I’m happy that he’s at PSG as well.

Paris St-Germain certainly represent some very cool attributes for a sports fan: the stadium, the new playing surface, the “golden generation” of young talent. Do you feel they can represent the United States of Europe, or even some global competition?

Paris Saint-Germain has been a pleasure to watch. They have some fantastic young players like Presnel Kimpembe, Presnel Kimpembe, the goalkeeper Alphonse Areola and others.

CNN still has time for a full game of football. Click here to watch.

It’s amazing. As a player, you can see the passion and the desire to win here. It’s a great celebration of football, that’s for sure. I’m pretty certain that because of the amazing atmosphere we’ll see in Paris, people will come to watch PSG even when they’re not playing.

Are you optimistic you can make it back to the final in Kiev, by winning this year’s European Cup?

I’ll try my best, I hope that I can. I want to try to finish as soon as possible and the Champions League is still one of the best competitions in the world.

The tournament is always unpredictable because if you look at it over the years, it’s always at least one club that could win it. No one can relax, that’s the way it always is.

There has never been a club in Europe with a bad record when it comes to drawing the quarterfinals, the semi-finals, or the final. That shows you the quality of the competition. There is only one team who is a favorite.

CNN still has time for a full game of football. Click here to watch.

It has not been the best season for you and PSG to be at the top. In terms of quality of soccer, in terms of quality of winning, you’re not getting the results you want. And as a whole team, you have also been criticized a lot. Is it up to you to change this perception?

I have only myself to blame. I have to do what I can to try to show people my position in this team is a great position, because it’s not easy to come to the World Cup from South America and win it.

The stadium is also a massive advantage for PSG. There’s an atmosphere and a buzz there. We’re doing everything we can for this joy of football to return as soon as possible. So far, we’ve had a very good start but you know, that doesn’t mean everything is going to be automatic.

I think the club has done a great job in the past with getting the maximum support from all the members and from Parisians. All the people always come together to support the team. It’s good for all the athletes who play in the team.

Barcelona’s current coach Ernesto Valverde is the first Spanish manager to have won the Champions League twice with two different clubs. Have you seen any of his achievements in his recent season with the team?

I’m still very happy, I know how talented he is. I hope I can learn from him a lot. The league and the Champions League have to complement each other and the team has to have special players, and at the same time, we also have to be adaptable. At the moment, I think that’s what we have.

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