Champions League

Champions League: PSG boss Pochettino dismisses revenge mode against Bayern

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino is trying to steer the club to their first Champions League title. His Bayern Munich counterpart, Hansi Flick, led the team to last year's crown.
Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino is trying to steer the club to their first Champions League title. His Bayern Munich counterpart, Hansi Flick, led the team to last year's crown. © Montage RFI/AFP

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino urged his players to forget about avenging last season’s defeat in the Champions League final when they take on Bayern Munich on Wednesday night in the first-leg of their quarter-final.

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“This season it is a different context, a match in two games,” said Pochettino ahead of the clash at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

“Last season it was a final. It is not a revenge but it is a challenge to go and beat a team like Bayern."

France international Kingsley Coman scored the only goal of the game in Lisbon in August to give Bayern their sixth European crown. PSG had been hoping to brandish their first title in European club football’s most prestigious competition.

The Champions League trophy followed the German Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal for Hansi Flick’s men who went on to win the Uefa Super Cup, the German Super Cup and the Club World Cup in 2020.

Following a 1-0 win at second-placed RB Leipzig on 3 April to go seven points clear in the Bundesliga with seven games remaining, Bayern are in pole position to retain the domestic championship.

Faltering

PSG are unable to make the same boast. Lille beat them 1-0 at the Parc des Princes last Saturday to go three points clear in Ligue 1 with seven games left.

After disposing of Barcelona in the last-16, PSG enter the first leg shorn of regulars. Defender Alessandro Florenzi and midfielder Marco Verrattti will miss the game after contracting the coronavirus.

Defenders Juan Bernat, Layvin Kurzawa and striker Mauro Icardi are on the injured list and midfielder Leandro Paredes is suspended.

Bayern too will be without strikers Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry. The former is recovering from a knee injury suffered on international duty last week with Poland and the latter tested positive for the coronavirus.

Troika

While Flick ponders his forward options, Pochettino will be able to deploy a troika worth nearly 500 million euros in the shape of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Angel Di Maria.

"There is a lot of focus on Neymar and Mbappé,” said Pochettino. “But it is the 11 players lined up who will have the responsibility to do the work necessary to win this game. 

"Bayern are the holders and the world champions. We must try not to lose the ball in dangerous areas. We know they have a great team but we’re confident and know our qualities.”

Despite PSG's absences, Flick said the visitors remained a formidable challenge.

"PSG have a solid defence and, obviously, their quality in attack is exceptional. We have to be able to cut off the supply to them. That means putting the person with the ball under pressure as soon as possible.”

Old boy

As PSG go into battle in Bavaria, former boss Thomas Tuchel takes his Chelsea side into a first leg at Porto.

Tuchel, who steered PSG to last season’s final, was dispatched in January after leading the side to a domestic treble of League Cup, Coupe de France and Ligue 1 title.

Pochettino has no chance of emulating that treble after the League Cup tournament was scrapped due to fixture congestion. The Argentine, however, still has the chance to eclipse his predecessor.

"It's a new game and Paris has a new team with a new coach," added Flick.

“It’s also vital that we don’t worry too much about what happens when PSG have the ball, but rather execute our attacks with confidence.”

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