Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel is using the prolonged break from football to enjoy some reading and meditation.

Tuchel was last on the touchline four and a half weeks ago when PSG overcame a first-leg deficit to defeat his former club Borussia Dortmund 2-0 and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

That game at Parc des Princes took place behind closed doors as a precaution against COVID-19 and the pandemic soon brought the shutters down on football globally.

"It's a long break, but we have to be disciplined and respect the situation," Tuchel told PSG's official website.

"We have a responsibility. I try to stay in the present, it's a big challenge, to stay calm and meditate. I sleep and read a lot. I'm taking advantage of some down-time."

Tuchel has also been watching re-runs of PSG games, citing the Dortmund matches and clashes with Marseille and Saint-Etienne, although he knows this is not an optimum time to spring new tactical theories on his squad.

"We talk a lot with each other, with the staff, we prepare individual programmes for the players, recommendations," he explained.

"I send messages to the players with their programme and I get their news, but not too much. I let them be a bit.

"What's difficult is that we don't know when it [the lockdown] will finish. If we knew when it was going to finish, we could start talking about tactics, attitude... but right now, no one knows when it's going to finish."

Tuchel added: "There are more important things than football. Of course, we wish for all of Europe and the world to be healthy.

"I hope we can restart playing in order to distract all those people who have to stay at home, sometimes in difficult situations, who are afraid for their family. Football is a good escape.

"We have to stay strong and not lose faith. It's important to smile, to stay calm. It's not easy, but it's possible."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel revelled in his team's triumph against Borussia Dortmund as the Ligue 1 giants reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in four years.

Not since 2016 had PSG advanced to the quarters but the French champions ended their last-16 hoodoo by seeing off Dortmund 2-0 in a behind-closed-doors clash amid coronavirus fears in Paris.

Neymar and Juan Bernat scored in the first half as PSG overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit at Parc des Princes, where Dortmund finished with 10 men following Emre Can's late red card.

Afterwards, Tuchel told reporters: "It was really amazing in the bus [pre-game]. It was strong. It gave us an atmosphere in the bus, with a lot of confidence, a lot of joy.

"After, the team started singing, we sang together, we hit the windows, it was great to have the atmosphere before the game. It was exactly the atmosphere we needed before a big game, with a lot of pressure.

"This joy, this way of singing together... I felt a very good vibe, and I hoped to bring this vibe, this spirit on the pitch, and the team did that. I am very happy."

"After the first goal, we controlled the game," Tuchel continued. "Scoring the first one was excellent. After the goal, we lost too easily some balls. We lost a bit the possession of the ball. But we scored a second goal. There were moments, there were minutes where we suffered. But we suffered always as a team.

"For example, our two strikers, Edinson [Cavani], Pablo [Sarabia], and then Ney [Neymar], Kylian [Mbappe], they do a lot of defensive running, like some crazies! They closed some spaces. And I had the feeling that we were always together. After, we were dangerous with the transitions when we attacked. It was a super, super tight game. We didn't get the help from the fans. That was more complicated. But we did it, and now we are very happy."

Tuchel added: "There are things more important than football, we know that. But in the last few minutes we didn't want to lose, that was absolutely clear. I hate losing.

"It was tough after Dortmund over there. And yes, the last five minutes, every attack, every chance, every shot from [Presnel] Kimpembe. We were hoping he'd whistle, or not whistle... And then there was the red card! Everything was clear."

Thomas Tuchel confirmed Paris Saint-Germain would wait until Wednesday to decide if the unwell Kylian Mbappe could face Borussia Dortmund, as a report said the star tested negative for coronavirus.

Mbappe is in doubt for the Champions League last-16 second leg after battling illness and L'Equipe reported on Tuesday the forward had returned a negative test for coronavirus.

Tuchel, whose side lost the first leg in Germany 2-1, said PSG would give Mbappe every chance to be fit, while Thiago Silva was set for a return from a hamstring injury.

"Kylian Mbappe is sick. He has a sore throat and we will see if he comes to train a little this Tuesday evening, but he has not been with us for two days," the PSG coach said, via the club's website.

"We will wait and decide on Wednesday morning.

"Thiago Silva did all the training, so we will decide tomorrow if he plays or not, but he is with the group. All the others are there except Ander Herrera.

"We will make the final decisions regarding Kylian and Thiago tomorrow morning."

PSG's Ligue 1 clash against Strasbourg, scheduled for last Saturday, was postponed due to coronavirus, while their meeting with Dortmund in Paris will be played behind closed doors.

Tuchel felt not playing on Saturday worked against his team, but he remains confident of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.

"For me, it's negative because we flew there. We arrived in Strasbourg and we couldn't play," he said.

"That was our last test. A match on Saturday before the one on Wednesday. We had no problems including this game in our preparation. It's a pity.

"It's still weird because we're now going to play without spectators and without our fans. In a game – especially a second leg – it's very important to create a special atmosphere to put pressure on our opponent and create tension.

"With coronavirus and now with Kylian Mbappe's [illness] a lot of things have happened. We have to think and adapt, but at the same time, it's a football game and we have to adapt.

"I really hope we can do it. We're confident we can do it. These changes are huge."

Past problems between Neymar and Strasbourg players will not prevent Thomas Tuchel from including the Brazil star in Paris Saint-Germain's starting line-up this weekend. 

Neymar suffered a fractured metatarsal in a Coupe de France clash last year after being fouled three times in quick succession, with Strasbourg's Anthony Goncalves telling the forward "don't come blubbing afterwards". 

That injury kept Neymar out for three months, which meant he missed the Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester United, who progressed on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw. 

This weekend's fixture against Strasbourg comes just four days before the second leg of the clash with Borussia Dortmund, who won the first leg 2-1 to leave PSG facing another potential last-16 exit. 

Tuchel revealed Neymar is carrying a knock from the Coupe de France win over Lyon in midweek but, if he is fit, the PSG boss will not rest the player this weekend just because of his history with Strasbourg. 

"No, it's a football game and anything can happen," Tuchel told a news conference on Friday. 

"We can't protect them. We have a past with Strasbourg, but I can't think they can do weird things. I am not afraid. 

"He took a hit against Lyon, so we have to decide. If he's ready, he'll play." 

However, Tuchel is looking ahead to the return fixture with Dortmund when it comes to the fitness of Neymar's compatriot Thiago Silva. 

The defender has missed PSG's last two fixtures with a hamstring injury that was initially expected to force him out of the second leg against the Bundesliga side. 

Yet he has returned to training ahead of schedule, giving Tuchel hope he could actually have his captain available in the Champions League. 

"I am more optimistic," Tuchel said. 

"He has no more pain. It's the timing for him. It was possible that he might play 45 minutes [against Strasbourg]. 

"[But] it's too big a risk for Saturday with just one training session. We will have more intensity Saturday and Sunday for him here. 

"I'm waiting for Monday; we will decide after. 

"I speak with Thiago almost every day. He's completely preparing for Wednesday's game. He absolutely wants to play. 

"We will decide Tuesday or Wednesday. This is the plan. We cannot push, be impatient." 

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.

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."

Thomas Tuchel said Paris Saint-Germain needed to remain confident and retain belief in their Champions League chances after an impressive win over Dijon.

PSG have faced criticism in the wake of their 2-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the last-16 first leg, but crushed Dijon 4-0 on Saturday.

Tuchel said there was no reason to begin doubting his PSG side, who hold a 13-point lead atop Ligue 1.

"The players want to prove that they are able to take a step forward, that too many criticisms have been said," the PSG coach told a news conference.

"They are having a consistent season, with many wins, with good performances, professional performances, strong performances. They deserved their victories. There were only few draws and one defeat.

"We can't lose confidence in this team, we can't lose confidence in this group. There are two games [first leg and second leg]. The players want to play the second leg. They want to prove what they can do.

"They started to show their abilities in training sessions this week, they showed it in this game, they will continue next Wednesday [in a Coupe de France semi-final against Lyon]."

Kylian Mbappe scored a brace against Dijon to go with goals from Pablo Sarabia and Mauro Icardi, while Angel Di Maria was substituted after just 17 minutes.

Tuchel played down any concerns over Di Maria and said he was "confident" the attacker would face Lyon.

The injury comes less than two weeks out from the second leg against Dortmund in Paris, although fears over the coronavirus continue to impact sporting events.

PSG defender Marquinhos has no interest in playing the second leg behind closed doors, saying it would be better to postpone the clash.

"Playing without fans would be a shame. I think it would be better to cancel the game. They had their fans at home. We want our fans at home," he said.

"I hope it won't happen. If a decision is made to play behind closed doors, we will ask to cancel the game, to play later in front of our fans."

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 4-0 victory over Dijon on Saturday to re-establish their 13-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.

Spain midfielder Pablo Sarabia opened the scoring early in the game as he netted his ninth goal in all competitions since the start of 2020.

Mbappe added a second after the break with a composed finish before he set up substitute Mauro Icardi at the Parc des Princes.

France international Mbappe then put the gloss on the result in injury time when he tapped in his 18th league goal of the season after Julian Draxler's initial shot had been blocked.

Thomas Tuchel sees no reason to make drastic changes at Paris Saint-Germain following their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

A double from Erling Haaland saw Dortmund claim the advantage in the first leg of the last-16 tie last week, though Neymar did grab an away goal.

PSG have Ligue 1 games with Dijon and Strasbourg sandwiched by a Coupe de France semi-final against Lyon before the return leg at the Parc des Princes.

Tuchel refused to overreact to what was PSG's first defeat in 24 matches, which was followed by a thrilling 4-3 win over Bordeaux, indicating that finding rhythm will be the most important thing for his side ahead of facing his former club again.

"We lost a match 2-1. It can happen that a team loses in Dortmund. It is a stronger team than at the start of the season," Tuchel told a media conference ahead of the visit of Dijon on Saturday. 

"Maybe we lacked rhythm, from several important players. Now is not the time to change. They absolutely want to move on from Dortmund.

"For many players, important players, it is the time to be confident. We lost one game out of 20, or even more than that, so two draws, one loss. It is a good time to be confident.

"We don't want to change too many things, to leave some players to their own responsibilities, because they want to change the result of the game against Dortmund and they want to win tomorrow, then in Lyon and we will do that step by step.

"When we arrive at Dortmund, then we will prepare for that game."

Neymar and Marco Verratti will not face Dijon because of suspension, while Thiago Silva, Ander Herrera, Colin Dagba and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are all sidelined.

The absence of Neymar could lead to another opportunity for Edinson Cavani, who scored his 200th goal for PSG in the victory against Bordeaux.

Tuchel was asked about his selection in the team ahead of Mauro Icardi, who has scored 19 goals since joining on loan from Inter, but gave the question short shrift.

"Well it is always the same question, before it was why he is playing while Edinson Cavani is on the bench? And now it is the other way around," he replied.

"We trust every player, including Edinson Cavani, and now, I think it is the time for him. He gave everything, he scored a goal, did an assist.

"He had a lot of moments, and with strikers, that is how it is. It is like that with everybody, but especially with strikers."

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar was exempt from blame for his sending off in a 4-3 win over Bordeaux on Sunday after head coach Thomas Tuchel refused to criticise a reckless tackle.

Brazil international Neymar was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Bordeaux's Yacine Adli in added time of the Ligue 1 clash at the Parc des Princes.

The 28-year-old had an angry exchange with referee Willy Delajod and then appeared to sarcastically applaud the officials as he left the pitch.

However, Tuchel believed Neymar's reaction was a natural one given he felt the PSG player had been fouled beforehand by Bordeaux's Youssouf Sabaly.

Neymar is now set to miss PSG's next Ligue 1 fixture at home to Dijon on Saturday.

"We have to talk about the whole situation," Tuchel said of Neymar's challenge in his post-match media conference.

"He is nervous and he reacts. It is human. He must not, but it is human. And the Bordeaux player does not even get a yellow card."

PSG secured the points after a chaotic win thanks to two goals from Marquinhos and one apiece for Edinson Cavani – his 200th in all competitions for the club – and Kylian Mbappe.

It helped PSG increase their lead to 13 points over second-placed Marseille at the top of Ligue 1.

And Tuchel acknowledged the win helped boost morale as they produced a positive reaction to a 2-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.

"The victory is the most important thing now because there are things to improve, it is clear," added the German coach.

"The players lack a little confidence after a defeat. It's like that. We can see that a lot of teams in Europe after a defeat it's always a little difficult to regain spirit and confidence."

Brazilian defender Marquinhos feels PSG must work hard to improve their defensive performances after leaking seven goals in their past two Ligue 1 games.

"On the one hand we are really very strong offensively, but on the other we concede a lot of goals," he told Canal+.

"As defenders we really have to think about what we can do best. In this match it was mainly on set-pieces. We really have to work better collectively."

Neymar saw red as Paris Saint-Germain moved 13 points clear at top of Ligue 1 after Edinson Cavani's 200th goal for the club helped them to a 4-3 win over Bordeaux on Sunday.

Hwang Ui-jo gave Bordeaux a surprise lead before Cavani equalised for PSG with his landmark strike at the Parc des Princes.

The hosts went ahead when Marquinhos chested the ball home but Bordeaux levelled through Pablo following a mistake by PSG goalkeeper Sergio Rico.

Marquinhos and Kylian Mbappe both finished clinically to put Thomas Tuchel's side in command, although Ruben Pardo reduced the deficit to set up a tense finish and Neymar was dismissed for a second booking late on.

 

After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

“For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

"And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

- United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

- Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

- PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

- Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

Thomas Tuchel admitted he was "very surprised" by leaked footage that showed Paris Saint-Germain's players partying into the early hours of the morning this week.

A number of PSG's first-team stars attended a lavish joint-birthday party for Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria in Paris on Thursday.

The extravagant bash was held two days after the French champions' 2-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Footage on social media showed some players, including forward Neymar, topless and bouncing around the room.

And with a Ligue 1 clash against Bordeaux to come on Sunday, Tuchel has questioned the actions of his players.

"I was really surprised yesterday afternoon when watching the video," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. 

"You can be sure that we talked internally. I don't want to talk about it now, but we talked about it within the club and it has to stay that way."

He added: "You can be sure that we are not happy with this image. We talked together as a team and it is now an internal matter.

"I am here to improve my group. I cannot give advice to the club, that is not my role."

Marquinhos was in attendance at the exclusive Pavillon Dauphine and defended the decision to throw the triple birthday party.

"The leaked footage was a mistake," he told reporters. "However, it had been planned for a long time. We needed to get together. 

"We must be careful, though, as there are people who travel miles to follow us.

"There has been frustration at the result and poor performance [against Dortmund]. We know our strengths, especially at home.We must work hard and with a good mentality."

Neymar suggested after the loss to Dortmund that he has been unhappy with PSG's management of his rib injury, insisting he was ready to return to action earlier.

However, Tuchel has reiterated that he cannot risk the Brazil international's fitness at a key point in the season.

"As I said before, it was a discussion between the club, medical staff and myself. With each injury we have to make many decisions, that's the way it is," he said.

"Imagine if we let him play, the injury got worse and he was out for three months. You would have asked the same questions, whether it was a mistake to play him.

"We have to think about why we are making these decisions and you have to trust me. We have talked a lot and it is the same with every player.

"Obviously I want him to play every game and we have to make decisions together. This is the decision we made between us. Now he needs to regain his rhythm."

Tuchel also confirmed Thomas Meunier and Colin Dagba are out of Sunday's clash with Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes, where he is hoping for a quick response from his side.

"It is never easy to start again after a defeat, but that is the challenge," he said. "I have the impression that all the players want to prove themselves.

"Sometimes the players are more competitive when things aren't comfortable. That is exactly the mindset we are looking for."

Thomas Tuchel felt Neymar's lack of competitive matches showed and he backed Kylian Mbappe after Paris Saint-Germain's loss to Borussia Dortmund.

Erling Haaland's brace inspired Dortmund to a 2-1 home victory in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Neymar was on the scoresheet on his return from a rib injury, while Mbappe also missed PSG's draw with Amiens on Saturday.

Tuchel felt PSG's busy schedule and injuries to their stars had played a part at Signal Iduna Park.

"We have made twice as many matches as Dortmund in recent weeks. We have had injury concerns with key players, they lack the rhythm, the hardness of the competition, as we saw with Neymar," he said, via L'Equipe.

"Our possession of the ball was not stable enough for this not to be a physical match. There was this physical side to this match, in addition, we made too many mistakes in unnecessary positions.

"We were lacking in timing. We lost a little confidence, and form. I thought it would be a more open game."

Neymar said post-match he had been unhappy with PSG's management of his injury, insisting he was ready to return earlier.

Tuchel, who felt his side played with fear, also backed Mbappe to learn from a difficult outing.

"I knew it would be a tough game for him. He had to be very, very patient," he said.

"We know that the technical relationship between him and Ney is good. Ney lacked rhythm, competition.

"Kylian made an assist. It's a tough game for him, a game to grow. I trust him. We're going to have a good game at the Parc [des Princes]."

PSG host the second leg on March 11.

Presnel Kimpembe accepted the Paris Saint-Germain players had to take the blame for their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund as Thomas Tuchel's tactics were not at fault.

Tuchel switched to a three-man defence, with Marquinhos lining up alongside Kimpembe and captain Thiago Silva at the back to grant Thomas Meunier and Layvin Kurzawa greater license to attack.

The move did not appear to pay off as PSG were outplayed by Dortmund and suffered a last-16 first-leg defeat following Erling Haaland's brace, although Neymar netted a potentially precious away goal.

Kimpembe was not looking to place the blame at the door of the head coach, however.

He told RMC Sport: "It has nothing to do with the tactics, we're the ones playing. The same players were on the field.

"It's up to us to show our will and do what it takes to get the victory. Here we are and we lost, but we still have a return match at home."

Meunier, who will miss the return leg through suspension along with Marco Verratti, suggested fatigue was a factor.

PSG were playing for the 14th time since the mid-season break ended at the start of January, although Tuchel made seven changes from the team that drew 4-4 with Amiens on Saturday.

"We thought [Dortmund] had defensive problems, but the problem is we didn't create many chances," Meunier told BT Sport. "That's our fault.

"We weren't really sharp in the last 20 metres. I think you could see a little bit of fatigue. We played almost 15 games since the beginning of January and you saw it."

Yet Meunier still claimed PSG deserved a draw, adding: "It was really difficult, really intense. The first half physically was really demanding.

"Maybe we deserved a draw, but Dortmund were really, really good. They played like the home team, like they are used to doing.

"Since the beginning of the season, they haven't lost one game here at home. We saw today that it was difficult."

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