Mbappe and Neymar 'very strong together' after PSG duo dazzle against Lyon

By Sports Desk March 04, 2020

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.

Related items

  • Messi named LaLiga's Player of the Month for February Messi named LaLiga's Player of the Month for February

    Lionel Messi's inspirational form through February has seen the Barcelona captain collect his first Player of the Month award of the season.

    February was Messi's most fruitful month of the 2020-21 campaign to date as he scored seven goals, two more than he managed in January.

    No player scored more than him, while Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak was the only other individual to net more than four times in the month.

    Messi's goalscoring habits helped Barca win four of their five games in the qualifying period, all of which saw him score at least once.

    As such, Barca have improved their chances of potentially sparking a genuine title scrap in the final months of the season, with the Blaugrana only five points adrift of the leaders Atletico Madrid.

     

    While Diego Simeone's men do still have a game in hand, Los Colchoneros also have the tricky test of a derby clash with Real Madrid to look forward to this weekend.

    Messi's commitment to the cause was questioned earlier in the campaign after he rocked the club in pre-season with his transfer request.

    He had only scored four times heading into December, when he added a further three – he already has 12 in 2021 and sits atop the 'Pichichi' standings with 19, three clear of nearest rival and friend Luis Suarez.

    Messi is only the second Barcelona player to win the award this term, with Ansu Fati – who has missed much of 2020-21 through injury – claiming it for September.

    Ronald Koeman's captain saw off competition from Isak, Yassine Bounou, Thibaut Courtois, Alex Berenguer, Nabil Fekir and Jose Luis Morales to win the prize.

  • There's only two N'Golo Kantes? Tuchel blown away by 'world class' Chelsea star There's only two N'Golo Kantes? Tuchel blown away by 'world class' Chelsea star

    N'Golo Kante has put fitness worries behind him and is back to doing the work of two people at Chelsea, winning the approval of new boss Thomas Tuchel in the process.

    Kante did not start any of Tuchel's first five Premier League games in charge at Stamford Bridge and was also restricted to a 16-minute cameo in the 1-0 Champions League win at Atletico Madrid.

    However, Thursday's victory by the same scoreline over Liverpool was Kante's third straight appearance in a Premier League XI and he turned in a typically all-action display.

    The 29-year-old France international gained possession 11 times at Anfield, more than any other Chelsea player, while his 14 duels contested were only bettered by Jorginho and Timo Werner (both 16).

    "Super big," Tuchel replied when asked how important it was to have Kante back to his best.

    "It was clear from the first second in training what this guy is capable of doing. It's unbelievable.

    "You see his intensity and in the physical report after matches, you think they maybe tracked two people and put them into one sheet.

    "It's unbelievable in terms of what he delivers, in terms of intensity, in terms of ball recoveries and devotion to a group. This is world class, the highest level, and very, very happy that he's in our squad."

    Despite not enjoying the most memorable season of his career, the two-time Premier League champion and World Cup winner has made more recoveries (200), tackles (76) and interceptions (57) than any other Chelsea midfielder across all competitions.

    Tuchel has an enviable array of options to deploy in the deeper central midfield positions, with the passing accuracy offered by Mateo Kovacic (91.5 per cent) and Jorginho (89) outstripping the less-smooth Kante (86.6).

    These figures widen from Tuchel's first game in charge against Wolves on January 27 onwards, with Kovacic and Jorginho almost identical on 91.5 and 91.3 respectively, while Kante is back on 82.5 per cent. Indeed, no Chelsea player ceded position more frequently than the former Leicester City man (18) against Liverpool.

    However, Kante brings so much to Chelsea in those aspects more associated with his game.

    Despite having restricted game time under Tuchel so far, his per 90 minutes average for recoveries (9), tackles (4.6), interceptions (2.5) and duels won (7.4) are the best of any Chelsea midfielder during this period.

    For context, none of his other counterparts average more than one interception per game, while Jorginho's average of 2.7 tackles is the next best behind Kante.

    "He comes from injury, he will not now play every game 90 minutes before we arrive at the international break," Tuchel said, adding a note of caution.

    "We have to manage him, we do this together with our physical coaches. We have to take care of him so he arrives fit for the international break and, when he comes back, I hope we can rely on him in every game.

    "I'm very, very happy to have him, Kova and Jorginho in defensive midfield. This is exactly the level we need in games of the highest level. I'm super happy with all of them."

    This competition for places is something Tuchel has already seen to be paying dividends.

    "I feel an unbelievable attitude towards training and towards games, I feel the bond between players that is necessary," he added.

    "In the whole world where football is played, the teams that stand out are the teams that fight for each other, who are ready to sacrifice, who are happy for each other, who push each other from the bench. This is exactly what I found."

  • Flick backs Haaland to dominate football ahead of Der Klassiker: The future can belong to him Flick backs Haaland to dominate football ahead of Der Klassiker: The future can belong to him

    Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick made no secret of his admiration for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland ahead of Der Klassiker, backing the Norway international to dominate the future of the sport.

    Haaland has enjoyed a rapid rise since establishing himself as first choice at Salzburg for the start of the 2019-20 season, his remarkable haul of 28 goals in just 20 matches for the Austrians propelling him to top of many big clubs' transfer shortlists.

    But, while the likes of Manchester United were keen on Haaland, Dortmund persuaded him to make the move to Signal Iduna Park, where he has been an overwhelming success.

    In 45 matches across all competitions, Haaland has 43 goals, while he outperformed his xG (expected goals) by 4.2 in the second half of 2019-20 after joining Dortmund, meaning not only is he scoring frequently but he is also finishing more difficult opportunities – by comparison, Robert Lewandowski has not boasted such a strong xG differential since 2016-17 (7.8).

    In three previous games against Bayern – two in the Bundesliga and one in the DFL-Supercup – Haaland has two goals, but he is yet to end up on the winning side against them with BVB.

    Nevertheless, Flick is well aware of the threat posed by the Molde youth product, with Bayern facing the prospect of potentially being replaced at the Bundesliga summit by RB Leipzig if Dortmund leave the Allianz Arena with all three points on Saturday.

    "Haaland is what a centre-forward has to be," Flick said.

    "He has an enormous hunger for goals. The future could belong to him because he has everything he needs for it.

    "He's fast, has a strong finish and the right mentality. When you see the intensity with which he puts on a sprint over 80 metres – it's great. He's someone you always have to watch out for.

    "It's very important to close the spaces for him. We have to cut off those passes to him."

     

    Flick was also asked about the situation of backup goalkeeper Alexander Nubel, who arrived on a free transfer from Schalke last year having established himself as one of the world's most-promising young goalkeepers.

    It was always seen as a potentially risky move for Nubel given the presence of Manuel Neuer, who has gone on to put his injury nightmares behind him and once again cement himself as Bayern's number one.

    Nubel's agent recently underlined his client's frustration with the situation and suggested he would look to secure a loan move away from Bayern if things did not change, and Flick showed little sympathy in his response.

    "Those are things that we talk about internally – we will have an exchange," Flick said. "But we have no business talking about that here.

    "His point of view is his right. Alex knew what he was getting into when he came to Bayern Munich. My job as coach is to pick the players who are currently the best team. He played two games and now he's injured.

    "The clear number one is Manuel Neuer."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.