‘I saw Neymar and Mbappe defend a lot’ – Mahrez stands up for PSG stars after Man City reach Champions League final

The Ligue 1 side’s forwards have been criticised after European elimination, however, one of their opponents has defended their work ethic

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe “defended a lot” during PSG’s Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester City, according to Riyad Mahrez.

PSG were well beaten over two legs by the Premier League outfit, with much of the blame falling on their star forwards, with claims that they are too individualistic and do not pull their weight for the Parisian club.

Mahrez, however, does not see it that way, and feels that over the two legs Mbappe – who did not play in the second game due to injury problems – and Neymar showed a willingness to help out at both ends of the pitch.

What did Mahrez say?

Speaking to L’Equipe , the City winger said: “I saw Neymar defend a lot, Mbappe also in the first leg. I think we were a little better than the Parisians overall. We did not qualify simply because two players defended less.”

Mahrez says that every Man City player helps out in defence without question, as part of Pep Guardiola’s intense tactical set-up, and that the lack of star egos in the squad is a big reason why they have reached the Champions League final for the very first time.

He said: “Pep [Guardiola] really imbued us with this aggressiveness when you lose the ball. To be a very, very high-level player, you have to make that kind of effort. Me, I don’t defend very well, but I do. I’m doing it to help my team-mates. At a very, very high level, if you don’t defend, you can penalise your team.

“If you are [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Lionel] Messi, Neymar or Mbappe, and you have such extraordinary qualities, maybe you can ignore certain defensive tasks, but when you look at Paris, we say to ourselves that it is difficult to win the Champions League if everyone is not defending.”

What has been the fallout for PSG?

Having lost in the final last season, PSG have once again fallen short in Europe, beaten 4-1 on aggregate by City and having drawn criticism for petulance and over-aggression on their way to defeat.

Idrissa Gueye was sent off for an appalling tackle on Kevin De Bruyne in the first leg while Angel di Maria was dismissed for lashing out at Fernandinho at Etihad Stadium, with Mahrez criticising PSG’s temperament in his comments following the second game.

Mahrez said: “It was a very good game. We didn’t start well again – we didn’t have a good first half but we got the goal and we were more comfortable. We played well second half and we could have scored more. They lost their nerve and started to kick us and after the red card it was more comfortable.”

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