Neymar set for PSG comeback as illness hits Mbappe

By Sports Desk November 21, 2019

Neymar is ready to return to action for Paris Saint-Germain against Lille on Saturday, but the Ligue 1 champions could be without Kylian Mbappe.

The Brazil superstar has not featured for his club since sustaining a hamstring injury during the October international break, continuing a tale of fitness woe that has stained his time at the Parc des Princes.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, head coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed Neymar would be available for a mouth-watering week of fixtures, with trips to Real Madrid and Monaco coming after Lille's visit to the French capital.

"Neymar feels good," Tuchel said. "He has trained well and will be in the group for tomorrow's match, but he will not be able to play 90 minutes.

"He will bring us quality and decisive things. When he is with us, we are super dangerous. That is necessary if we want to continue to win

"Lille, Real Madrid and Monaco represent three challenging games for us."

Mbappe has often stepped up in Neymar's absence, but the France forward has been laid low by illness having already suffered hamstring, thigh and groin setbacks this term.

"He had a fever, he has to start training today, we have to wait," said Tuchel, who will be without midfield duo Marco Verratti (knee) and Ander Herrera (thigh).

Neymar's rehabilitation took in a trip to watch the Davis Cup in Madrid this week, something which neither delighted nor angered his boss.

"What can I do? I'm not his father, nor the police. I am just his coach," Tuchel added.

"He trained well. Did I enjoy his trip to Madrid? No. But he was very professional during those two weeks.

"He did more than others, working with the group and also individually. If all goes well, he can play [against Lille]. Tomorrow we will decide".

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    Kylian Mbappe thanked Paris Saint-Germain's medical staff for getting him fit in time to play a starring role in the Champions League quarter-final win over Atalanta.

    Speaking two weeks ago, PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel said key man Mbappe required "a miracle" to recover from an ankle sprain sustained on July 24.

    But the France international was named among the substitutes on Wednesday and made a big impact from the bench in the final half an hour of the Ligue 1 champions' remarkable 2-1 triumph.

    Mbappe linked up with Neymar and set up fellow substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for a 93rd-minute winner, 149 seconds after Marquinhos cancelled out Mario Pasalic's opener. 

    After helping his side book a first semi-final appearance in the competition since 1995, the 21-year-old went on social media to praise the club's backroom staff.

    "You don't talk to me about pain," he tweeted. "A big thank you to the medical staff for getting me back on my feet, no one believed it except us. 

    "Congratulations to the whole group, we want to get this one."

    PSG will face either RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid in Tuesday's semi-final at the Estadio da Luz.

  • Neymar and Mbappe will stay at PSG – Al-Khelaifi Neymar and Mbappe will stay at PSG – Al-Khelaifi

    Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will stay at Paris Saint-Germain, according to president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

    The stars helped PSG to an incredible come-from-behind 2-1 win over Atalanta in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon on Wednesday.

    Contracted at PSG until 2022, Neymar and Mbappe have both been linked with moves away from the Ligue 1 champions.

    However, Al-Khelaifi said the pair would stay at PSG as he lauded their class.

    "Ney, with Kylian, he's one of the best players in the world. He's in the top three," he told RMC Sport, via L'Equipe.

    "Ney was the man of the match [against Atalanta]. He had a great match. He and Kylian are not going to leave. They are going to stay."

    Behind to a Mario Pasalic goal, PSG left it late to overcome Atalanta, Marquinhos equalising in the 90th minute before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting netted the winner three minutes later.

    Al-Khelaifi was proud of PSG, who are aiming to win their first Champions League title and face either RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid at the semi-final stage.

    "It's a very special day for us, it's magnificent. It's something special, we need that to change mentalities," he said. 

    "I am very proud, I thank the players, the staff. It was not easy after stopping the Championship [due to the coronavirus pandemic]. 

    "We showed a great mentality, great players. I am very happy. 

    "This is the first time that we have reached the semi-finals [since Qatar Sports Investments took over in 2011]. It's historic."

  • Tuchel: Imagine what I could have done celebrating with two legs! Tuchel: Imagine what I could have done celebrating with two legs!

    Thomas Tuchel insisted Paris Saint-Germain deserved their late 2-1 victory over Atalanta and quipped his celebrations after the winner would have been even wilder had he not been on crutches.

    PSG booked a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1994-95 with a remarkable comeback win in Lisbon on Wednesday thanks to two late goals.

    Marquinhos prodded home in the 90th minute before Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting completed the turnaround 149 seconds later for the French champions, who had trailed to Mario Pasalic's strike for more than an hour.

    Tuchel broke a bone in his foot during a training session last week but still clenched both fists and let out a huge roar when the winning goal hit the net, potentially saving his job at the Parc des Princes in the process.

    Speaking to RMC Sport after the match, the German coach said: "Imagine what I could have done with two legs! It is our 50th birthday today and we will not forget this day. We are really happy to be in the semi-finals. 

    "It is a historic season, with four titles and a Champions League semi-final."

    Neymar insisted after the match he never doubted PSG would progress, though Tuchel admits he was fearing the worst when a goal down so late. 

    "I doubted after 88 minutes of play, I was realistic, but we always thought about scoring," he said. "I told my assistants: 'if we draw, we will make a difference soon after'. We had a great game and the qualification is deserved.

    "It was a bit of luck with those late goals but if you look at the whole game, it's deserved."

    Tuchel's second-half changes made a major impact on the game, with Mbappe setting up fellow substitute Choupo-Moting for the winner.

    PSG also overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit in their last-16 win over Borussia Dortmund and Tuchel praised the spirit of his players to once again hit back when the pressure was on.

    "The bench players were exceptional today, with a good frame of mind," he said. "The mentality has always been good, the players are together. 

    "We have already had a comeback against Dortmund. In this competition, we must have a little luck, and now we are here. 

    "Congratulations to the players. Today was about Choupo-Moting – he was exceptional."

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