Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo says the French club has nothing to fear ahead of a crucial Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund, particularly when armed with “two of the best four players in the world” in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Speaking to Canal+ after PSG’s 4-2 victory over Olympique Lyonnais in Ligue 1, former Brazilian international Leonardo, who returned to his role as the club’s sporting director last year, says his team is “calm” despite the French club’s underwhelming record in the Champions League.
The French champion, which has long targeted European glory on top of its dominance in Ligue 1, has not progressed past the Champions League last 16 since 2016, and not beyond the quarterfinals since 1995.
“I think that every year, as soon as we approach the knockout stages of the Champions League, we start to say that the team is not ready, that Ligue 1 is not at the level to prepare Paris,” said Leonardo.
“I want to understand why? The team is first in the championship. We have an incredible group of players. The form of our best player (Neymar) is at the highest level. Why must there be concern for the Champions League?
“We don’t play life or death. I think the team is ready, if we win, it’s good otherwise it doesn’t matter, the team can get out of this.”
PSG travels to Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park next week — a venue renowned for its noisy home support — before the second leg takes place in Paris on March 11.
A shock 3-1 defeat by Manchester United at the Parc des Princes last season put PSG’s Champions League hopes on hold for another year.
Five victories in the group stage and a draw against Real Madrid saw PSG progress to the final 16.
“We are calm,” said Leonardo. “PSG wants to play the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals … we have to get out of this negativity.
“It will be good for France if we go to the final, not just for Paris. Today, I’m happy because we have a great team and great players. Which club has a team like this?
“In the four best players in the world, there is Neymar and Mbappe, and it is only PSG which has them. I’m glad we have two of the best four players in the world. What are we afraid of?”
Neymar missed PSG’s victory over Lyon on Sunday with a rib injury and a return date has not yet been confirmed. He was also absent last season for PSG’s defeat by United.
French striker Mbappe has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season, while Neymar has scored 15 in 18 games.