herald

Saturday 17 August 2019

Tuchel: This will be a 50/50 tie

Thomas Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel

Paris St Germain coach Thomas Tuchel admitted his side can no longer be considered clear favourites to beat Manchester United in tonight's Champions League Round of 16 tie.

When the draw was made in December few doubted the Ligue 1 leaders would get the better of a United side labouring under Jose Mourinho.

But since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as caretaker there has been something of a revolution at Old Trafford, while PSG arrived in Manchester with star strikers Neymar and Edinson Cavani sidelined by injury.

Now the Parisiens can no longer be so confident of progressing.

"Over 180 minutes I would say it's 50-50," Tuchel said through a translator. "With them at home at Old Trafford whether it's 50-50 I'm not sure but we have a second leg in Paris where we are strong and comfortable.

"At this level it's the details. It could be a decision of a referee, a yellow or a red that can make the difference. It's a close game."

Tuchel said he never got as far as scouting Mourinho's United, but he is clear about the challenge posed by the Solskjaer version - still unbeaten with 10 wins from 11.

"They play with a lot of confidence, they score a lot of goals and get a lot of early leads," he said. "It's an impressive run. To play at Old Trafford in this moment against this Manchester United is one of the toughest challenges you can have."

And it is a challenge which only got harder for PSG at the weekend, when Cavani injured his hip after scoring in a 1-0 win over Bordeaux. Neymar has been missing since breaking a metatarsal on January 23 and faces 10 weeks out.

"Would Man Utd miss (Paul) Pogba or (Marcus) Rashford? Of course," Tuchel said.

"Neymar is one of our best players and one of the best players in Europe. We will miss him a lot. And now Cavani is out."

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