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Unai Emery: Paris Saint-Germain defence is among the best in Europe

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has said his defenders are among "the best in Europe" despite conceding five goals in their last two matches.

The Ligue 1 leaders face Lille at home on Saturday after losing 2-1 at Strasbourg and then succumbing 3-1 at Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

But speaking at his prematch news conference on Thursday, Emery said: "Whenever we concede a goal, it concerns the whole team -- from the attack to the goalkeeper.

"Our defence is one of the best in Europe. We cannot look at just two matches out of 23 played -- I have every confidence in my defence."

Captain Thiago Silva was criticised by the French media after the Bayern defeat, in which he was substituted after Bayern's Robert Lewandowski stepped on him before the home side's third goal.

Emery said Silva was "among the best central defenders in Europe" and played down rumours of a rift because the player felt he should have been substituted more quickly.

"I speak often with Thiago," he said. "He is our captain. He is very professional and very experienced.

"Since the end of the game in Munich until now, I have not seen him. I chatted a bit with Thiago [Motta] and Layvin [Kurzawa] this morning, but Thiago was doing tests with the doctor.

"I have no doubt he is among the best central defenders in Europe. He is better this season than he was last. His desire is greater, and he is a positive reference point for the squad."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has said Neymar would have a better chance of winning the Ballon d'Or if he was playing at the Bernabeu, but Emery said: "Neymar is here, in Paris.

"I am convinced that he will achieve collective goals and that individual recognition will then follow here."

Silva, Motta and Kurzawa are all likely to miss the Lille game, and Emery said: "Layvin was absent yesterday, so we will have to see how he is for the final training session.

"Motta is doing better, but he will only return to proper training next week.

Neymar will serve a one-match suspension and could be replaced in the starting XI by Angel Di Maria.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.


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