UCL: Mbappe in contention to start as PSG tackle Leipzig in semi-finals

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Kylian Mbappe could start Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League semi-final clash with RB Leipzig, head coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

 

The France international was a major doubt for what proved to be a dramatic 2-1 quarter-final win over Atalanta last week but made a telling difference from the bench.

After coming through the final 30 minutes of that match unscathed, Tuchel is prepared to throw Mbappe in from the start at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.

“He played 30 minutes against Atalanta and had no problems with his ankle,” he said.

“So he will train and, if there is the possibility for him to start, we will see if he can play the 90 minutes.”

Mbappe set up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for PSG’s last-gasp winner against Atalanta as the French champions completed a remarkable late comeback.

Fellow forward Neymar played a big part in both of PSG’s goals and Tuchel has hailed the leadership qualities shown by the Brazil international.

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“When I arrived he was the leader on the field. Everyone expects a leader who speaks, but he is different,” Tuchel said.

“He leads by his quality, his hunger on the field, his fighting spirit. He likes to fight on the field.

“This season, we created a group with players like [Ander] Herrera, [Pablo] Sarabia or [Keylor] Navas. They are players who know how to play together and know how to create an atmosphere.

“It’s a team sport and Neymar cannot win alone. We are very happy to have created a special atmosphere.”

Between them, Mbappe and Neymar have scored 59 goals in all competitions this term for PSG, who are still on course for an unprecedented quadruple.

“That’s our strong point,” Tuchel said when asked about the partnership between the attacking pair. “They make the difference.

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“It’s the mix between Neymar who dribbles and Kylian who brings his speed. Of course that’s our strong point. In each team there are connections between players – the two together are exceptional.”

Tuchel’s side were crowned Ligue 1 champions in April after the season was curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, before going on to win both domestic cup competitions.

And the German coach insisted his players remain motivated to create some club history, with Bayern Munich or Lyon to come in the Lisbon final should they overcome Atletico Madrid’s conquerors Leipzig.

“We live in the present moment, we deserve to be here, we have had an extraordinary journey and season,” he said.

“If we got this far, it’s because we worked for several months, at the best level. The players are calm and happy to be together. On the pitch they are strong, especially in training.

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“The players are focused and smiling. We are ready, we are hungry, but we do not think about the historical side, because we are in the semi-finals and we are there to win.

“We cannot control the result, but we will fight.”

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