Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn't say anything. On April 10, 2016, the day after a championship victory at Guingamp (0-2), Laurent Blanc evokes with some executives the idea that has been in his mind for a few days: to move to 3-5-2 at the Etihad Stadium. On the first leg, in the quarter-final of the Champions League, PSG conceded a draw (2-2) at home and must win the return to qualify (or achieve a prolific draw, like 3-3 or 4-4). Some members of the council of wise men of the staff of the world champion are put in the confidence, like the captain Thiago Silva or Thiago Motta, the architect of the game of White at the time. The tenors of the locker room seem surprised but no one stops the coach or disputes his decision.
For three years, confidence has been total between this technician who has managed to be accepted by his players with strong ego. Blanc has entrusted the keys of PSG to Ibra, at the center of his sporting project, and in return, the players fully adhere to the instructions of the Cévenol. Circumspect or not, they adopt without batting an eyelid this 3-5-2 that no concrete implementation comes to prepare or repeat.
But the info will leak from Monday, the day before the return round.
At a press conference, and to the amazement of the audience, a French journalist asks Laurent Blanc if he is considering a change of system.
Since 2013, the former Bordeaux coach has been evolving in an unchanging 4-3-3, where everything is regulated from the midfielder with Thiago Motta as sentry, Marco Verratti on the right and Blaise Matuidi on the left.
At the end of the media meeting, the reporter passes for a weirdo among his colleagues.
An anemic PSG
However, until the end, White maintains his idea. David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi are suspended, Verratti returns from injury and will not be on the scoresheet, the coach therefore believes that it is necessary to change the pattern in the absence of two thirds of his traditional midfielder. In fact, only one element could have made him change his mind: the form of Javier Pastore. If the Argentinian had been at 100% of his athletic and physical means, the former defender would not have touched his 4-3-3 with a midfielder Thiago Motta accompanied on the left of Adrien Rabiot and on the right of Pastore. But "El Flaco" hasn't played a minute since March 13th when it is April 12th. He was hit in both calves, a part of the body that handicapped him a lot during his long journey in the capital. It is too fair and will not enter until the 61st,in place of Serge Aurier.
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Blanc thus begins the meeting: Trapp - Aurier, Thiago Silva (cap.), Marquinhos - Van der Wiel, Rabiot, Thiago Motta, Maxwell, Di Maria - Cavani, Ibrahimovic.
On the bench, he has Sirigu, Kimpembe, Kurzawa, Stambouli, Pastore, Lucas, Ongenda.
His organization proves to be totally inoperative, with an anemic Paris, bordering on half an opportunity and a single shot on target from a free kick from Ibra.
This system turns into a fiasco even if at the break, the score remains 0-0 (Kun Agüero had missed a penalty in the 30th), which maintains hope for PSG. A 1-0 victory would have qualified the capital club and the 3-5-2 did not prevent it (nor favor). Because this tactical novelty will not survive the injury of Thiago Motta, replaced in the 44th by Lucas. Paris will start from then in 4-2-3-1 then at the entrance of Pastore in 4-3-3. Ironically, it's back to his favorite pattern, that Blanc and his team conceded the goal of Kevin De Bruyne (76th), the only one in the game. “We were bad in all areas that day. It is not the system which is in question but us, our implication and our mind ”, will confide us later in April 2016 a member of the staff of Laurent Blanc.