Pochettino knows importance of Champions League, but insists focus must remain on Ligue 1 for now

By Sports Desk April 17, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino believes winning the Champions League is in the heads of everybody at Paris Saint-Germain, but insists that will not shift their focus away from Ligue 1.

On Tuesday, PSG progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League with an away goals win over Bayern Munich – who defeated them in the final last season.

Manchester City are next up for the French champions, but first, they must attempt to close the gap in the Ligue 1 title race.

Pochettino's team sit four points behind leaders Lille heading into Sunday's meeting with Saint-Etienne, while Monaco and Lyon are also in contention.

PSG have have not lost any of their last 15 Ligue 1 games against St Etienne (W10 D5) – only against Angers (21) and Brest (18) are they on a longer unbeaten run in meetings with current French top-flight sides – though they have lost their last three matches at home.

Asked if the thought of ending their wait for a Champions League title is at the forefront of his players' minds, Pochettino told a news conference: "That question should have been asked a long time ago.

"I think it is in everyone's heads at the clubs, not just because we are now in the semi-finals.

"We have an important game tomorrow so it is difficult to speak about the Champions League now."

Pochettino also has no concerns over facing Premier League leaders City in the last four, adding: "When a team like PSG wants to win every competition, we do not mind which team we face because we know we have to beat everyone if we want to be champions."

Pochettino has already lost as many games at home in seven matches in Ligue 1 with PSG (three) as his predecessor Thomas Tuchel in 42 games, and more than Unai Emery (one loss in 38 games), Laurent Blanc (2/57) and Carlo Ancelotti (2/28).

However, he pointed to Lille's failure to beat Montpellier on Friday as an example of how competitive Ligue 1 is this season.

"We are seeing how difficult it is for every team to pick up points and win games, I think Ligue 1 is very competitive. It clearly shows that it is not easy for any team to win," he said.

"We will have to answer it tomorrow by improving our performance and getting a positive result. We have the chance to reduce the gap to Lille, but more importantly we want to perform well at home and get back to winning ways on home turf, if we want to win the league."

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    "We definitely want to keep Erling with us next season. You can see his value, you saw how committed he is last Saturday against Leipzig, with joy.

    "Besides we still have it in our own hands, we just have to win twice more now. We have managed the club solidly for so many years, when we go into the second or third year of the coronavirus, then we have to take out a few loans at some point we will pay them back.

    "But there is absolutely no economic need to sell him, regardless of whether it is a Europa League or Champions League."

    Watzke also casually revealed that interim head coach Edin Terzic had extended his deal with the club to presumably work as an assistant under Marco Rose.

    "Edin Terzic did a great job," he said. "He took over the team in December, it was half dead, and he brought it to life. That is a huge achievement at his first coaching station.

    "He's holding the keys in his hand. He extended a long-term contract a few weeks ago.

    "He's a Dortmund boy, he lives and breathes the club. If Edin wants to do something different, then we have to work with him. But we won't do that now."

    Terzic was delighted with the DFB-Pokal success but remained focused on the bigger picture, with Dortmund determined to confirm a top four league spot with two games to play.

    "That was definitely not our best game, but we found the key to success," he said.

    "Now we all deserve to enjoy this evening tonight but the season is not over for us yet."

    Outgoing Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who will finish his time at the club without a trophy, said it was a "painful" loss.

    "You can imagine that I'm not doing well but it's not about me, it's about the club," he said.

    "It's painful. I know what the headlines are like now… We still have two Bundesliga games that are not that pleasant. I'm not thinking about my move [to Bayern Munich] now.

    "I'm proud of the boys. "We weren't the worse team, we just scored fewer goals. Dortmund makes a lot out of a little."

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