Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is preparing for a return, saying he was training even harder than he would at the Ligue 1 club.

While PSG were crowned Ligue 1 champions as the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are also in the Champions League quarter-finals and Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue deciders.

Neymar, 28, has been at home in Brazil for two months amid the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed more than 308,000 people worldwide.

But the Brazil international is working hard, guided by his physical trainer, Ricardo Rosa.

"I'm here, training hard, on the same rhythm and frequency that I would in the club. Training even harder actually, with more activities to compensate for the lack of games," Neymar said, via his website.

"The intention is to be ready for when they signal the return of club activities, so I can be in the best possible condition.

"Of course that I miss the competition, but Rica made a planning that I have been following on the line."

Neymar has scored 18 goals in 22 games for PSG this season, but has been linked with a return to Barcelona.

Substitute Ryad Boudebouz's stoppage-time winner sent Saint-Etienne into the Coupe de France final with a dramatic 2-1 victory over defending champions Rennes on Thursday.

A cool finish into the bottom-right corner in the 94th minute from Boudebouz sent the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard into raptures and booked a meeting with Paris Saint-Germain on April 25.

Saint-Etienne started the brighter of the two sides but found themselves behind when M'Baye Niang resoundingly converted a 33rd-minute penalty awarded following William Saliba's foul on Raphinha.

Timothee Kolodziejczak restored parity ahead of half-time and Boudebouz - who had replaced Yann M'Vila in the 83rd minute - struck at the last, with the final whistle followed by a pitch invasion from the jubilant home supporters.

Thomas Tuchel praised hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe for his response after finding it "difficult" against Borussia Dortmund, with the forward's partnership alongside Neymar crucial to Paris Saint-Germain.

With PSG lining up in an unfamiliar 4-3-3 formation, Mbappe struggled to make an impact during the first leg of the last-16 Champions League tie away in Dortmund last month.

However, since the 2-1 defeat in Europe, France international Mbappe has flourished in domestic action, scoring six goals in three games.

Mbappe's hat-trick on Wednesday helped PSG progress to the Coupe de France final in style, with head coach Tuchel delighted at the 21-year-old's display in the 5-1 thrashing of Lyon.

"Mbappe's been very strong these last few weeks. He had a tough time in Dortmund playing in a different position. It was clearly difficult for him against Dortmund," Tuchel told the media.

"With Neymar, they're very strong together. After Dortmund, Mbappe showed a great reaction after every training session and during the games against Dijon and Lyon.

"He's very strong, he uses his speed very well, he's very decisive. He's really in good shape."

Neymar also scored in the rout, converting a second-half penalty after Marcal was deemed to have handled the ball inside the area midweek.

The Lyon defender received a second yellow card as punishment, allowing PSG to cut loose against 10 men. Mbappe added two more goals following his first-half equaliser, while Pablo Sarabia also scored late on.

Tuchel pointed to Neymar as the catalyst for the team to produce such "extraordinary performances", the Brazilian benefiting from playing regularly after returning from a rib issue.

"Neymar was very strong, he's still dangerous. For him, the most important thing is that he plays," the former Dortmund boss said.

"He's a player who helps us to do extraordinary performances, with extraordinary results. He has to play, and it's good that he played 90 minutes.

"It is also good to have another game to play before Dortmund against Strasbourg. He needs that, he has the ability to play a lot, and when he plays a lot, he is super strong."

Neymar scored PSG's goal against Dortmund but criticised the way the club managed his injury following the defeat, insisting he had wanted to play prior to the trip to Germany.

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain recovered from falling behind to reach the Coupe de France final with a 5-1 triumph over 10-man Lyon.

Thomas Tuchel's side remain on course for a clean sweep of domestic trophies after prevailing in a dress rehearsal for next month's Coupe de la Ligue final in the French capital.

Mbappe was the star turn but the game was closely fought until turning on a handball by Marcal, leading to a second booking for the Lyon defender and a penalty for their opponents.

Neymar coolly converted to make it 2-1, leading to the Brazilian being the target for objects thrown from the stands, and from then on PSG cut loose against 10 men, giving the final score a lopsided look to it.

Mbappe finished a solo run by flashing a shot beyond Anthony Lopes and then tapped home Neymar's cross at the second attempt to complete his treble in added time, with his late double sandwiching a goal from Pablo Sarabia.

Buoyed by back-to-back home wins over Juventus and rivals Saint-Etienne, Lyon had stood toe-to-toe when at full strength, including claiming an early lead when Martin Terrier swept home Karl Toko Ekambi's low cross.

Yet their advantage lasted less than three minutes, Mbappe providing the finishing touch at the back post from close range after Layvin Kurzawa had flicked on Sarabia's corner. The defender's assist for the equaliser came at a personal cost, though, as he suffered a cut in a clash of heads.

Having finished impressively earlier in proceedings, Terrier failed to show such composure when a dummy from Moussa Dembele put him in the clear, poking a tame effort straight at Keylor Navas.

Edinson Cavani had a goal correctly ruled out for offside and also struck the post before the end of the first half, though Lyon were the team in the ascendency until Marcal's indiscretion, with the penalty awarded after a VAR check.

PSG's triumph means they may well get the chance for revenge against Rennes, the team who denied them the trophy last season. The holders are at Saint-Etienne in the second semi-final on Thursday.

Thomas Tuchel is counting on Neymar ahead of a "decisive phase" of the season, believing he has mellowed since criticising Paris Saint-Germain's use of him prior to the defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

Neymar had hit out at the club for not playing him in any of their previous four matches before the trip to Germany, aiming to limit the risk of injury.

The Brazilian insisted such a decision had nothing to do with him, pointing the finger at the club and their doctors, as he claimed he had felt well enough to play.

Having served a suspension during PSG's 4-0 thrashing of Dijon on Saturday, Neymar is back in contention to face Lyon in the Coupe de France semi-final on Wednesday.

And Tuchel says he has mellowed since venting his frustration with the club, while the coach is relying on the forward ahead of a potentially critical part of the season, with PSG set to face Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie next week having lost 2-1 at Signal Iduna Park.

"He [Neymar] is calmer now," Tuchel told reports on Tuesday. "In Bordeaux he had a good match, unfortunately with a red card. It was not good, but it was like that.

"I have a feeling that he is calmer. He's getting ready for tomorrow's game, he's going to play, it's necessary.

"The most important thing is that he plays, that he is with us in this decisive phase. I am happy to play with him in Lyon.

"I have the feeling that he is really ready, that he is calmer, more confident, and that he has found his rhythm."

Neymar is in doubt for Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 first leg at Borussia Dortmund, according to head coach Thomas Tuchel.

PSG were without star forward Neymar for Wednesday's 6-1 rout of Dijon in the Coupe de France quarter-finals due to a rib injury.

Neymar stayed in Paris as the Brazilian continues to recover from the injury, which he suffered against Montpellier on February 1 and led to him missing Ligue 1 wins over Nantes and Lyon.

After travelling to Amiens in Ligue 1 on Saturday, PSG will then make the trip Dortmund for the opening leg of their Champions League tie against the Bundesliga outfit on Tuesday.

Asked about Neymar post-game, Tuchel told reporters: "I can't say that he will be 100 per cent to play against Borussia Dortmund.

"We will discuss and decide on Friday, the latest possible time to do so. We can't risk his fitness."

Tuchel added: "We aren't going to take risks against Amiens, it's clear. We will have a strong team, but if we have little doubts, we won't take risks."

PSG sailed into the Coupe de France semi-finals thanks to the midweek demolition at Dijon.

An early own goal from Wesley Lautoa opened the scoring for PSG, though the visitors were pegged back by Mounir Chouiar 12 minutes later.

However, a Pablo Sarabia brace and goals from Kylian Mbappe and Thiago Silva, as well as a Senou Coulibaly own goal secured PSG's passage.

"Dijon started very aggressively, took a lot of risks and put in a lot of effort. We were also very focused, and battled for second balls," Tuchel said.

"We were very careful but were able to step up our tempo. We were patient and played quickly, simply and created space in the second half. We controlled the game and scored two more goals quickly."

Kylian Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia starred as Paris Saint-Germain eased past Dijon 6-1 in the Coupe de France quarter-finals. 

An own goal from Wesley Lautoa opened the scoring for PSG after just 48 seconds, but Thomas Tuchel's men were pegged back by Mounir Chouiar in the 13th minute. 

Mbappe made it 2-1 shortly before half-time before Thiago Silva and Sarabia made sure of progression to the last four.

PSG's fifth came as Senou Coulibaly inadvertently diverted an Mbappe strike into the net before the France star laid an injury-time second on a plate for Sarabia to round off a rout.

Neymar will be absent when Paris Saint-Germain tackle Dijon in the Coupe de France on Wednesday.

That confirmation came on the morning of the quarter-final fixture as PSG named their travelling squad, with Neymar staying behind in Paris as he continues to recover from a rib injury.

The Brazil striker was checked by coach Thomas Tuchel in training after Tuesday's media conference, when it was made clear PSG would take no risks with the former Barcelona player.

"Neymar is injured, we have to be patient and careful with him," said Tuchel.

Neymar has missed PSG's 2-1 win at Nantes and 4-2 victory over Lyon since suffering his injury against Montpellier on February 1.

He returned to training last Friday, but the last thing PSG would want is for Neymar to aggravate the problem, given they return to Champions League action at Borussia Dortmund next Tuesday.

Ahead of that first-leg match at the last-16 stage, former Dortmund coach Tuchel will hope to have his key players available.

Neymar was joined on the list of non-travellers for the Dijon game by Marquinhos, who is recovering well from a calf injury, along with Idrissa Gueye, Presnel Kimpembe and Marco Verratti.

In Neymar's absence, PSG remained replete with fire-power as Tuchel took Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Edinson Cavani on the trip to the Stade Gaston Gerard.

PSG are hoping to go one better than last year in the Coupe de France, having lost the 2018-19 final on a penalty shoot-out to Rennes.

Rennes reached this year's semi-finals on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over fourth-tier minnows ASM Belfort.

Thomas Tuchel feels Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League struggles have been exaggerated to a similar extent to Roger Federer's perceived dominance in tennis.

Ever since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) became PSG's owners in 2011, the club have been obsessed with Champions League success, spending vast amounts of money in their quest to become Europe's greatest team.

But in that time, the furthest they have gone in Europe's elite competition is the quarter-finals, suffering gutting collapses against Barcelona and Manchester United along the way.

However, with Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Neymar impressing this season, there is a belief PSG have a front three capable of setting the standard in Europe.

Borussia Dortmund await PSG in the last 16 of this season's Champions League - with the first leg set for February 18 - and Tuchel is remaining relaxed despite the external pressure, highlighting that, although Federer has won more grand slams than anyone else, he does not win them all.

"If I tell you not to think about a pink elephant, you will think about it," Tuchel told reporters ahead of Wednesday's Coupe de France clash with Dijon.

"You have to accept the context. I said after [being eliminated by] Manchester United, 'guys, we will try again next year'.

"The group stage, the last 16, that's how it is. It's the same for tennis. Everyone thinks that Roger Federer has always won, but it's not like that.

"We are confident, we have improved. We have a good group. I am grateful for this chance. The first game was never a problem, everyone will talk about the second game. It is sport and it must remain sport.

"We can also say that it is our fault, with the matches against Barcelona and Man United. We lost these matches there and we cannot wait for everyone to be super positive.

"For me, that does not change. We are here every day with the team, we are very happy to be in the last 16. It's a dream for everyone to play in the Champions League with a club like PSG.

"We always remain positive, you can only influence the context by giving everything you have. It's up to us, we don't let ourselves be influenced from the outside.

"The context doesn't make things easier, but it's sport, that's how it is. Try, try again and never give up."

Paris Saint-Germain will be patient with Neymar's recovery from injury, head coach Thomas Tuchel has insisted.

The Brazil star's availability for Wednesday's Coupe de France quarter-final tie at Dijon will be determined after he has been assessed at a training session on Tuesday.

Neymar has missed PSG's 2-1 win at Nantes and 4-2 victory over Lyon in the past week having suffered a rib injury against Montpellier on February 1.

He returned to training last Friday but Tuchel is eager not to rush his star man back onto the pitch.

"Neymar is injured, we have to be patient and careful with him," said Tuchel.

"We are going to decide [if he can play] after training."

Tuchel confirmed it was too early for Marquinhos to return from a calf problem, with Saturday's Ligue 1 match away to Amiens instead being targeted for his comeback.

Thiago Silva and Bernat will be back in the mix but Presnel Kimpembe and Marco Verratti suffered knocks against Lyon and are out.

They join Marquinhos, Colin Dagba and Abdou Diallo on the injury list, with Tuchel reluctant to take risks ahead of next week's Champions League last-16 first leg against his former team Borussia Dortmund.

Lyon's last-gasp win over Nice means they will face Marseille in a Choc des Olympiques in the Coupe de France quarter-finals.

Houssem Aouar's 93rd-minute penalty ensured Lyon's progression on Thursday, with the substitute scoring just four minutes after Adam Ounas had made it 1-1, cancelling out Moussa Dembele's opener.

It means the headline fixture from the last eight will be a derby clash between Lyon and Marseille, who last met in November when Andre Villas-Boas' side won 2-1.

Meanwhile, 12-time winners PSG – who defeated Pau 2-0 in their round of 16 tie – have been handed an away match against Dijon.

Defending champions Rennes will take on fourth-tier Belfort, who defeated Montpellier on penalties in the previous round.

Fellow minnows Epinal also inflicted a shock in the round of 16, defeating Lille, and will face another Ligue 1 side in the form of Saint-Etienne.

The ties will take place on February 11 and 12.

Thomas Tuchel gave Leandro Paredes the captain's armband for Paris Saint-Germain's Coupe de France win over Pau to show the confidence he has in the midfielder.

Tuchel left Neymar out of his squad for the 2-0 win over the third-tier side, with Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria watching from the bench as PSG claimed a 2-0 win to reach the last eight.

Paredes has struggled to justify the outlay PSG spent on him in January. The Ligue 1 champions paid an initial €40million to Zenit, with the fee potentially rising to €47m.

However, he repaid Tuchel's confidence on Wednesday as he scored the opening goal - just his second for the club - with a superb volley in the 25th minute.

Pablo Sarabia's second-half effort effectively put the game beyond doubt.

"By giving the armband to Paredes, it was also the intention to show him the confidence we have in him," Tuchel told Eurosport. "He did well by scoring.

"You can't win if you don't make the effort - everyone thinks it's easy to always win, but it isn't. It always takes effort.

"Look when we scored, the bench players celebrated, and that's great. It's a good sign. I love that. If those on the bench are there for the others, are happy, that's good.

"I feel it every day. I have enormous confidence in my players."

PSG are 10 points clear at the top of the league, with the biggest game on the horizon their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Tuchel's former club Borussia Dortmund on February 18.

"We are not in Dortmund yet - there is Montpellier this weekend and many other matches, we still have a lot of time," Tuchel added. 

"The best way to prepare for big games is to play every three days, to play and to play again. We are having a good time. We have good results, it is deserved, and it is never easy.

"Outside, there is always an atmosphere against us, and it's good to have managed to make this match and get this result.

"The goal is to find a state of mind in this kind of match - if we don't have it now, we won't find it in close matches. Each match is a small rehearsal, of the things that we do well, but also of those that we do not do well.

"There are of course things that can be improved. But in a club like PSG, it's important to have the victories, to follow up to have confidence and be in good condition.

"I told the players that this match was important, it was necessary to win if we want to win the cup."

Asked about the knee injury right-back Colin Dagba suffered in the second half, Tuchel replied: "No news. He has a lot of pain in the knee, but I don't know more.

"He was very good at the moment, he was very good against Lille, he is able to make an impact as soon as he returns."

Paris Saint-Germain eased into the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France with a routine 2-0 win at Pau.

Neymar was not named in the squad for the trip to the third-tier side, with Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria left on the bench for the visit to the Stade du Hameau.

However, neither was needed as the Ligue 1 leaders comfortably saw off the Championnat National promotion chasers with a goal in each half.

Leandro Paredes opened the scoring with only his second goal for the club after 25 minutes and Pablo Sarabia made sure of progression eight minutes into the second half.

PSG had not really threatened when Paredes opened the scoring in style.

Mauro Icardi laid Layvin Kurzawa's cross into the path of the Argentina midfielder, who controlled brilliantly before lashing a volley beyond Alexis Guendouz.

Kurzawa then spurned a chance to double the lead as he lashed across the face of goal, but Sarabia made no mistake after the restart.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting saw his point-blank effort from Mauro Icardi's pull back blocked by Damon Bansais and Sarabia was there to convert on the follow-up.

Pau pushed to try to find a way back into the contest, but a lack of cutting edge in the final third meant an unlikely comeback was never on the cards.

 

Edinson Cavani has asked to leave Paris Saint-Germain but the club have rejected an initial approach from Atletico Madrid, sporting director Leonardo confirmed.

PSG's record goalscorer Cavani is out of contract at the end of the season and has repeatedly been linked with a January move away from the Parc des Princes.

A move to Atletico appeared close earlier in the transfer window, and the Uruguay international sat out both the midweek win against Monaco and Sunday's 1-0 Coupe de France defeat of Lorient.

However, it is reported PSG have turned down a €10million bid from the LaLiga club, although Leonardo revealed there would be further discussions.

"Edinson Cavani has asked to leave. We are studying the situation," Leonardo told reporters. "We had an offer from Atletico Madrid, but we did not accept it.

"I don't know how this is going to turn out. We are going to discuss more. We know the situation. It is not an easy one."

On the possibility of bringing in a striker if Cavani left, the PSG chief added: "It is a good question. We are thinking it over."

Thomas Tuchel had little to add on the situation, however, referring back to Leonardo.

"I do not know if Edinson Cavani will be here in February," the coach told a news conference. "We do not know what will happen tomorrow - anything can happen.

"You want to discuss it, but I do not. Ask Leonardo."

After beating Lorient, PSG will visit third-tier Pau in the last 16. The pick of the draw sees Nice host Lyon.

Pablo Sarabia's header 10 minutes from time ensured Paris Saint-Germain did just enough to beat Ligue 2 side Lorient 1-0 and book their place in the last 16 of the Coupe de France.

Thomas Tuchel's men were far from their best at Stade du Moustoir and extra-time appeared to be on the cards, but Sarabia was decisive in the 80th minute to end Lorient's hopes of an upset.

While Tuchel did use the opportunity to rest some of his key players, PSG still had an exceptionally strong starting XI – but they offered very little spark or imagination in the first half, with Lorient actually crafting the best chance.

The contest was more open after half-time, particularly in the final 20 minutes, and Sarabia produced a well-placed header late on to seal the victory, as PSG look to go one better than last season in the competition, having finished runners-up in 2018-19

Although PSG managed eight shots in the first half, there was a distinct lack of goalmouth action and the Parisians struggled to test Paul Nardi in the Lorient goal.

The only major opportunity of the opening 45 minutes fell to the home side just past the half-hour mark – Yoane Wissa heading Jimmy Cabot's cross just wide from close range.

PSG were no more of a creative threat after the interval, with Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Sarabia underwhelming in their attempts to supply Mauro Icardi with good service.

Icardi was finally presented with a chance in the 67th minute, latching on to Sarabia's looping header at the back post, but Nardi just managed to get in the way when the opening goal looked a certainty.

Chances began to flow a little more in the final 15 minutes, as Thiago Silva cut out a potentially goal-bound shot from Vincent Le Goff and Nardi made a fine save to thwart Sarabia.

But the former Sevilla winger was not to be denied soon after, peeling off his marker to head home Silva's delivery.

 

What does it mean? PSG persist but lack of decisiveness a concern

It is not often that PSG struggle to break their opponents down. With a slightly altered supporting cast for Icardi, the Parisians often appeared short of ideas on Sunday. Perhaps it came down to a lack of focus - if so, Tuchel will need to stamp that out quickly if they are to enjoy a successful season across all fronts.

Nardi a safe pair of hands

He perhaps did not come under quite as much pressure as he might have expected, but Nardi still produced a commanding performance in Lorient's goal. His save to deny Icardi in the second half was excellent, while he looked confident when dealing with crosses and high deliveries.

Di Maria disappoints

The most experienced player in PSG's attack on the day, Di Maria certainly cannot be accused of going missing, but very little of what he did was positive. Only one of his seven shots was accurate and he produced a solitary key pass – hardly decisive.

What's next?

Another cup tie awaits PSG, as they go to Reims in the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday. Lorient return to league action two days later as the Ligue 2 leaders host Nancy.

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