Mbappe Ready To Start For PSG Against Leipzig, Says Tuchel

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Olympique de Lyon (OL) on October 7, 2018 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe is fit to start for Paris Saint-Germain against RB Leipzig in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final in Lisbon, coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

“He played for 30 minutes against Atalanta and had no reaction. He has had six days since then to work on his fitness, so of course, he can start,” Tuchel told reporters during a virtual press conference on the eve of the game.

He added: “We will decide after training whether he can play 90 minutes.”

Mbappe started on the bench in the quarter-final against Atalanta after spending the weeks leading up to that match struggling with an ankle injury.

But the France superstar had a major impact as PSG came from behind to win 2-1 at the Estadio da Luz, setting up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the decisive goal in stoppage time.

The club from the French capital are now through to their first Champions League semi-final since 1995.

“We are living in the moment. We deserve to be here because we have had an extraordinary season,” said Tuchel, whose team won a domestic treble in France.

“We are absolutely ready, the hunger is there, but this is not a historic moment, it is a semi-final and we are here to make the most of all the hard work we have put in and to win it.”

While Mbappe is in line to start the game, Angel Di Maria can also return after serving a suspension against Atalanta.

However, PSG have selection problems elsewhere.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, previously a Champions League winner with Real Madrid, is out with a thigh injury after coming off hurt late in the quarter-final. Spaniard Sergio Rico is therefore set to replace him.

In addition, midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye is a major doubt, according to the club, because of a muscle injury.

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Cavani Likely To Miss PSG’s Champions League Clash With United

Cavani react after getting injured during the French L1 football match between PSG and FC Girondins de Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on Saturday, February 9, 2019. ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Edinson Cavani is likely to miss the first leg of Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League encounter with Manchester United, coach Thomas Tuchel told French television on Sunday.

“There is no good news for Edi this morning, there are still examinations today at our training centre, the club will speak a little later, but in my opinion, the news is not going to be very good,” Tuchel said.

“It will be very difficult for him to play.”

The Uruguayan centre-forward has scored 17 times in the French league and twice in the Champions League this season.

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PSG visit Old Trafford on Tuesday for the first leg of their encounter in the round-of-16, the stage at which the French champions went out in the last two seasons.

Cavani suffered a leg injury on Saturday, probably when blasting home the 42nd-minute penalty that gave PSG a 1-0 victory in Bordeaux. He did not play the second half.

“There is a very small hope,” Tuchel said. “We always hope but the first exams are not good.”

He said the club would make a statement later in the day.

PSG are already missing superstar striker Neymar sidelined until at least April with a foot injury.

Tuchel said there was good news for another of his key players, midfielder Marco Verratti who started against Bordeaux after three weeks out with an ankle problem.

“Verratti can play and will play,” said the German coach.

“I’m worried because we are missing key players,” said Tuchel. “For the big games in the Champions League, it is absolutely necessary to have key players with a lot of experience”.

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Neymar Thrills Tuchel With Superb Performance In Liverpool Clash

Brazilian PSG’s footballer Neymar Junior  Photo: Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP

Paris Saint-Germain had been waiting for such a performance from Neymar and the Brazilian more than delivered on Wednesday’s Champions League victory over Liverpool.

The world’s most expensive player scored what proved to be the winning goal as PSG beat last season’s runners-up 2-1 to step back from the brink of an unthinkable group-stage exit.

His 14th goal of the season came at the end of a move he had initiated with his blinding pace. Neymar celebrated by performing a dance by the corner flag with Kylian Mbappe and posing for the cameras.

But Neymar’s evening was about so much more than that.

Shortly after Juan Bernat’s opening goal, Neymar rushed across to the touchline in front of the dugout to make a challenge and then waved his arms in a frenzy to whip up the crowd.

He spent much of the second half running his socks off to help PSG defend their lead, and he also upset Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for being supposedly “clever” in winning fouls and buying time.

“For us, it was all or nothing. We suffered quite a bit but we are relieved that we won, played well and showed the strength of our squad,” Neymar said.

“We need to celebrate that. After the game we were shouting, jumping around, dancing, so we are happy.”

PSG could have been eliminated with a defeat, but are now above Liverpool in Group C and head to Red Star Belgrade in their final game in a fortnight with qualification for the last 16 in their hands.

It was a big night personally for Neymar, in PSG’s most important Champions League game since the last 16, second leg against Real Madrid last season, which the Brazilian missed due to injury.

 ‘Monster’ Silva 

This was probably the French club’s most significant result in the competition since they beat Barcelona 4-0 in the last 16 two seasons ago. Neymar was far from the only man responsible.

There were big performances throughout, with Marco Verratti impressive in midfield, even if he was lucky not to be sent off for a dangerous tackle on Joe Gomez in the first half.

Thiago Silva towered over everyone in central defense, the 34-year-old Brazilian living up to his nickname of “The Monster” by helping shut out Liverpool’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Yet it was telling that Silva was so keen to praise his coach at the end of the game, as he described Thomas Tuchel as “fantastic”.

 Tuchel gets better of Klopp 

The German has won all 14 games in Ligue 1 this season since being appointed, but he desperately needed a signature European performance.

Tuchel made some big decisions, none more so than selecting defender Marquinhos in midfield rather than Adrien Rabiot.

Marquinhos was particularly impressive, playing in a holding midfield role without the ball and dropping into a three-man defense in possession.

Tuchel, therefore, won the tactical battle against his compatriot Klopp and crucially seems to have won over his players.

“The attitude was extraordinary. I am very proud that all the supporters in the ground saw the efforts of a team,” said Tuchel.

The question now is whether this result can act as a trigger for PSG to go on to the latter stages of the competition.

“I hope so. It is very important to go through this experience together to create a special atmosphere for the weeks ahead,” Tuchel added.

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Neymar, PSG Still Not At 100%, Says Coach Tuchel

Neymar

 

Brazilian star Neymar and his coach Thomas Tuchel fully agreed Tuesday that no-one at Paris Saint-Germain was “yet at 100%.”

Neymar “is perhaps not at 100%, but he’s close,” Tuchel said at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League home game against Red Star Belgrade.

“I’m not at 100% of my fitness, no one is at 100%, it’s the start of the season and we haven’t played many matches,” said Neymar.

“World football reaches its peak around February and March, with the biggest matches.

“I’m working, every match, every day, on improving both physically and technically,” Neymar added.

Asked about the injury in March which ended his PSG season and compounded his build-up to the World Cup in Russia, Neymar said it had made him “very sad.”

Brazil’s elimination from the quarter-finals of the competition was also a source of “great frustration”.

But he added: “My injury, the World Cup, they are in the past.”

After losing their opening group game to Liverpool, PSG needs a victory against Red Star if they are to salvage their group campaign.

Tuchel said Tuesday his public statements after the loss at Anfield were not the same as his “unofficial” reaction.

“You can well imagine that the official reaction should not be the unofficial reaction,” he said.

“It was a very tough defeat for us, we did not play to our best. Certain criticism had to be made in the dressing room.

“It was only the first match in the group, so you cannot exaggerate the criticism, we had to keep calm,” said the German.

“I am very happy with their reaction, we have to continue tomorrow.”

‘Training with a smile’

After saying that Neymar was not quite 100%, Tuchel said: “For me, it’s normal because he was injured for a long time and it was a very difficult and complicated World Cup for him.”

“He did not have a normal pre-season and everyone is watching him to see if he is in top form or if he makes mistakes, it’s difficult for him.

“He’s a player who needs to be in a good state of mind, training with a smile.

“Honestly, I am very happy with ‘Ney’, he will reach top form, 100%, and that is very necessary,” the coach said.

“Now he is very confident, involved in the club and in the project here and we are very satisfied.”

AFP