Confident United will be a tough challenge - Tuchel

By Sports Desk February 11, 2019

Thomas Tuchel knows Paris Saint-Germain will face a Manchester United side revitalised under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the last 16 of the Champions League.

After qualifying top of a group that also included Liverpool and Napoli, the Ligue 1 champions were dealt a tough hand in the first knockout stage when drawn against United, albeit much has changed since the teams were paired together at the end of last year.

Jose Mourinho was in charge of the Red Devils at that time, but the Portuguese was sacked soon after and replaced by Solskjaer on an interim basis.

The change in management has led to a stunning turnaround in the team's fortunes - United have triumphed in 10 of their 11 games under the Norwegian, with Burnley the only side to stop them winning in his reign so far.

In contrast, PSG will be without the injured Neymar for both legs of the tie, while Edinson Cavani is set to miss Tuesday's game at Old Trafford after picking up a hip problem at the weekend.

"Manchester United play with a lot of confidence, score a lot of goals, get a lot of early leads. It's an impressive run," Tuchel told the media.

"To play at Old Trafford against this Manchester United is like the group stage again. It's one of the toughest challenges. 

"We were in extremely good shape at the end of the group stage. Since the draw, things have changed completely. I always said to talk about it in February.

"They are full of energy and full of confidence and it will be a tough challenge."

Tuchel refused to be drawn on what Solskjaer had done to achieve such impressive results but does expects United to be bold in their approach - just like their caretaker manager was during his playing days at the club.

"I'd love to have a good answer but I'm not sure it's on me to talk about the situation. Obviously, there is an effect," the former Borussia Dortmund boss said. 

"We have a word in Germany: if you go to the doctor and he heals you, he's right - it doesn't matter how!

"He [Solskjaer] was a super dangerous player, any time he came on he was there to win games and he does the same as a manager here. It's a big challenge to play against him."

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    Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

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    Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

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    Liverpool (H): May 1, 2019

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    17 - Messi announced himself to Spanish football as a 17-year-old, making his debut against Espanyol before going on to get his first goal, a delightful lob in a win over Albacete, having had a similar finish harshly disallowed. That season also brought his first piece of silverware, as Barca won LaLiga.

    18 - On the international stage, Messi's career has been a case of 'what might have been' and the signs were there right from the start. His Argentina debut at the age of 18 lasted less than a minute, as he was sent off in a friendly against Hungary. However, he did get his first goal at the same age, scoring against Croatia. At club level, he got his hands on the Champions League for the first time, plus a second LaLiga title and the Spanish Supercopa.

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    20 - Although he was clearly already destined for greatness, Messi's career may have been significantly different had Pep Guardiola not been appointed Barca coach when the forward was 20. His arrival came after Frank Rijkaard could only guide Barca to third in LaLiga.

    21 - Messi found another level and truly established himself as Barca's key player at the age of 21. He scored 38 goals that year, helping the club to a remarkable treble, which included his second European title and a third LaLiga crown.

    22 - Champions League and Copa del Rey retention were beyond Barca the following year, though Messi still got to lift the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup for the first time. The Blaugrana also won LaLiga and the Supercopa, while Messi took home his first Ballon d'Or and European Golden Shoe.

    23 - Another glorious year followed, as Messi got his hands on a fifth LaLiga title and won the Champions League for the third time. He scored 53 goals as a 23-year-old, a personal best at the time, and unsurprisingly clinched a second successive Ballon d'Or.

    24 - Although the two main trophies eluded Barca and Messi when he was 24, it proved to be his best year to date in terms of goals. He scored a remarkable 73 in all competitions, making him the obvious winner of a third consecutive Ballon d'Or and second European Golden Shoe.

    25 - Incredibly, Messi reached the 300 goals mark for Barca when he was just 25. The same year he guided the team to the league title – his sixth – and won the Ballon d'Or for the fourth season in a row, making him the first to ever achieve the feat.

    26 - Having passed the 300 mark at 25, netting 60 that year, Messi became Barca's all-time leading scorer across all matches – including friendlies – when he was 26, passing Paulino Alcantara's record of 369. The Spanish Supercopa was the only trophy he won that year, however, as Gerardo Martino was dismissed.

    27 - Messi's Champions League drought ended when he was 27 and he was truly back to his best. He boosted his goal haul from 41 the previous year to 58, passing the 400 mark in the process, and inspired the team to another treble.

    28 - It was another hugely successful year for Messi at 28, with LaLiga, the Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup all added to the crowded Barca trophy cabinet. Messi also increased his personal collection, winning a fifth Ballon d'Or. He also overtook Gabriel Batistuta to become Argentina's all-time leading scorer.

    29 - The goals landmarks continued to tumble at 29, with Messi surpassing 500 in a Barca shirt. For the year he scored an impressive 54, earning himself a fourth European Golden shoe. With the club, he lifted a fifth Copa del Rey title and seventh Supercopa, but Luis Enrique ended his three-year stint at the helm.

    30 - Early in the 2017-18 season, Messi became the first player to reach 350 LaLiga goals and made his 600th appearance for the club across all competitions in November. After the turn of the year, he broke Gerd Muller's record for most league goals at one club in Europe's top five competitions, before helping Barca to a domestic double, while they also set a new record unbeaten streak in LaLiga – 43 matches.

    31 - With Andres Iniesta gone, Barca made Messi their new captain in August 2018 and he lifted his first trophy as skipper the same month, winning the Supercopa. He was inspirational in the title win, sparing the team's blushes several times with late goals and winning a sixth Pichichi trophy, equalling Telmo Zarra's record. He also netted his 600th Barca goal but Champions League and Copa del Rey success eluded the Blaugrana.

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