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Beating virus would be ‘real’ victory, says PSG’s Sarabia

Sarabia (C) has scored 14 goals for PSG this season, including seven in five French Cup games © AFP/File / Philippe DESMAZES

PARIS, France, Apr 11 – Paris Saint-Germain winger Pablo Sarabia says that beating the coronavirus would be the “real victory of the season”, with most professional football shut down due to the pandemic.

France’s Ligue 1 was suspended on March 13, with PSG sitting 12 points clear of Marseille at the top of the table, while having also reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2016.

But Spanish international Sarabia says public health has to come first ahead of getting back onto the pitch.

“No, I’m not afraid about that (the season not restarting), it’s not the thing I am worrying about,” he told AFP.

“I am thinking about my family first and foremost and then about getting this sorted. This is a critical situation.

“Who knows right now whether the league will restart or not — it is hypothetical and we all need to focus on the pandemic. Coming through this would be the real victory of the season.”

Football players have come under pressure to take salary cuts, with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich stars all among those to accept a reduction in pay.

And Sarabia says that the French clubs are also planning to take similar measures.

“All that is in our hands, if we can help, donate something, do what is in our hands, (we will),” he said.

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“We are talking about it and our captains are in discussions and all we can do to help PSG and the country in general, we will try to do that.”

– Euro hopes on ice –

Sarabia, 27, joined the French champions from La Liga outfit Sevilla last year and has impressed in Paris, scoring 14 goals in all competitions so far this season.

He is hoping to use his unexpected free time to improve his French, having signed a five-year contract with PSG.

“I like to talk and if I don’t understand the language and can’t communicate that frustrates me a bit,” said Sarabia.

“I’m trying to make the most of these days to study and come out with a better level of French.”

PSG’s main aim since the takeover by a Qatari investment group in 2011 has been to lift the Champions League trophy, but the capital club have still not reached the semi-finals since 1995.

A last-16 victory over Borussia Dortmund last month, though, having trailed after the first leg, raised hopes that PSG could finally make a serious tilt at European football’s greatest prize.

“It was a difficult time when we lost in Dortmund but everything that has happened has shown how united we all are as a team,” said Sarabia.

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“I could see in the eyes of my teammates that we were going to get through, you could feel it.

“(But) there is still a long way to go before the final, and as I said before I don’t think we should be thinking about that just now.”

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