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.

Neymar returned to Paris Saint-Germain's starting XI for Tuesday's Champions League last-16 meeting with Borussia Dortmund.

Brazil forward Neymar had been out of action since he sustained a rib injury on February 1, meaning he has missed PSG's past four matches.

However, having included the former Barcelona star in his travelling party, coach Thomas Tuchel – who was going up against his old club at Signal Iduna Park – confirmed in his pre-match news conference that Neymar was fit to feature in some capacity.

The 28-year-old was named in the starting line-up alongside Kylian Mbappe, who was rested during the 4-4 draw with Amiens on Saturday.

Tuchel appeared set to switch his system, with Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe forming a three-man defence alongside Thiago Silva, while Marco Verratti returned in midfield to partner Idrissa Gueye.

Layvin Kurzawa was handed a spot on the left and Thomas Meunier was on the opposite flank, while Angel Di Maria completed the visitors' front three.

Lucien Favre's team was unchanged from the side that dismantled Eintracht Frankfurt in their last Bundesliga outing, meaning Erling Haaland makes first Champions League appearance as a Dortmund player.

The 19-year-old, who has netted nine times in six games for his new club, scored eight goals in six outings in the group stage for Salzburg.

Liverpool return to the setting of their sixth coronation as European champions on Tuesday, as they face Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano in their last-16 first leg.

The Reds beat Tottenham 2-0 at Atletico's ground last year to win the competition for the first time since 2005, having been defeated in the final the previous campaign.

They go into Tuesday's encounter as big favourites due to a combination of their remarkable form and Atletico's well-documented struggles.

Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain tussle in Germany in Tuesday's other fixture, with their contest sure to capture the imagination of neutrals given the amount of attacking talent on display.

Ahead of Tuesday's action, we take a look at the key data from both games…

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool

0 - Atletico have never lost at home under Diego Simeone in the Champions League knockout stages (W8 D4). In those 12 games, they have only conceded two goals.

3 - Liverpool, who beat Genk and Salzburg on matchday three and matchday six of the group stage, have never won three consecutive away Champions League games. They last did so in the European Cup back in September 1984 under manager Joe Fagan (five in a row).

10 - Liverpool's Sadio Mane has scored 10 goals in 14 Champions League knockout games since 2017-18. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has been more prolific over that period (11 goals).

3 - Liverpool have always progressed against Spanish opposition in two-legged Champions League ties (3/3): 2-2 on away goals v Barcelona (2006-07, round of 16), 5-0 on aggregate v Real Madrid (2008-09, round of 16), 4-3 v Barcelona (2018-19, semi-finals).

50 - If he plays, this will be Alvaro Morata's 50th Champions League game. Fifty per cent of the Atletico striker's goals in the Champions League have come in the knockout phase (7/14).

Borussia Dortmund v PSG

1 - Dortmund have made it past the Champions League last 16 only once in the past five seasons. That was in 2016-17 under current PSG coach Thomas Tuchel – they were eventually knocked out by Monaco in the quarter-finals.

8 - PSG have reached the Champions League knockout stages for the eighth consecutive season – only Real Madrid (23), Barcelona (16) and Bayern Munich (12) are on a longer run. However, in that time, the French side have never gone past the quarter-finals and have been eliminated in the last 16 in each of the past three seasons.

2 - Two of the three youngest players to have scored three or more goals and delivered three or more assists in the Champions League since last season play for Dortmund: 19-year-old Jadon Sancho (three goals, three assists) and 21-year-old Achraf Hakimi (four goals, three assists). The other is PSG's 21-year-old Kylian Mbappe (nine goals, eight assists).

30 - Mbappe has had 30 goal involvements in 30 Champions League games (19 goals, 11 assists). He has scored three goals against BVB, his joint-best record in the Champions League against a single opponent.

22 - Dortmund's previous 22 goals in the Champions League have all come from open play, the longest current run among the remaining sides in the competition.

Neymar will play in Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

The Brazil international has been out of action since suffering a rib injury on February 1, missing four matches since then in domestic competitions.

He was confirmed in PSG's squad earlier on Monday, as the Ligue 1 champions prepare to go up against Tuchel's former club for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Kylian Mbappe is also back in the squad after being rested for Saturday's thrilling 4-4 draw with Amiens, but the focus has been on Neymar's potential involvement.

Tuchel says he will play, barring any last-minute issues in training.

"Neymar is here, he is feeling well," the German coach told reporters. "He trained today [Monday] and will be playing tomorrow if nothing happens during training.

"Obviously, it changes everything if he plays and I hope it will be a positive thing.

"If we have Ney on the field, he has the ability to do decisive things. That changes everything: for his team-mates, for Kylian…

"It gives me confidence, but also the team. That seems obvious to me."

Neymar has been in phenomenal form this season, scoring 13 times and setting up another six goals in his 14 Ligue 1 matches.

The most expensive player of all time has only played twice in the Champions League this term, however, scoring once.

Lucien Favre says Borussia Dortmund cannot afford to focus all their attention on Neymar as the world's most expensive player prepares to return to the Paris Saint-Germain team on Tuesday.

Neymar has been out of action since suffering a rib injury against Montpellier on February 1 but, alongside Kylian Mbappe, who missed the weekend draw at Amiens, he was named in the PSG squad for their Champions League last-16 first leg at Dortmund.

The Brazil international has made just a single appearance for PSG in the knockout stages of Europe's elite competition since joining in 2017, with injuries curtailing his campaigns as the Ligue 1 giants suffered consecutive last-16 defeats.

But Neymar also played only twice in this season's group stage as Thomas Tuchel's men topped the table and defeated Real Madrid.

Favre is therefore well aware of the other threats PSG might pose at Signal Iduna Park, including World Cup winner Mbappe, who scored three goals against Dortmund for Monaco in the 2016-17 quarter-finals.

"All the players have great qualities at PSG, but they have won against Madrid without him [Neymar]," Favre told a pre-match news conference on Monday.

"Neymar is very, very good, but there is also Mbappe or [Angel] Di Maria. I could count 10 players.

"They have high qualities in winning the ball and going forward very quickly. You play with counter-pressing, but you can also wait to counter."

Dortmund have quality of their own, though, and are boosted by the January arrival of Erling Haaland, who has nine goals in six games since joining from Salzburg.

Haaland netted eight times in the Champions League for Salzburg in the first half of the campaign, and Favre is optimistic the 19-year-old can continue this outstanding form against PSG.

"He adapted very quickly and showed his strengths: his strength and his running," Favre said. "He always wants to develop, even in training. He has a great mentality.

"He has already taken a great path here, even though he is only 19 years old. It's different in Dortmund than in Salzburg, of course, but he also played in the Champions League and scored goals there. I hope he does the same with us."

Dortmund and PSG have had trouble in defence in recent weeks, the Bundesliga side conceding four at Bayer Leverkusen on February 8 while the French champions let in the same number at Amiens in an epic draw on Saturday.

An exciting attacking encounter is therefore anticipated, but Favre – who will be without midfielder Julian Brandt – would be happy to see a tighter affair.

"I prefer to see a nice game, but sometimes a nice game is about good defensive play," he said. "Sometimes I have nothing against winning 1-0 or playing a 0-0.

"If there is an offensive style of play, people are happy – but not always the coaches."

Neymar is back in the Paris Saint-Germain squad for the first leg of their crunch Champions League last-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund.

PSG have also included Kylian Mbappe in their 21-man group for Tuesday's match in Germany.

Neymar has missed PSG's past four matches, including Saturday's thrilling 4-4 draw away to Amiens in Ligue 1, having suffered a rib injury against Montpellier on February 1.

But after head coach Thomas Tuchel said a decision would be made after training on Sunday, the Brazil star was included in the PSG squad.

Neymar's likely involvement in the match will come as a huge boost to the French champions after the forward missed crucial knockout games against Real Madrid and Manchester United in the last two Champions League seasons.

Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia did not play against Amiens either, but both are also back for the Dortmund game, as is defender Marquinhos, who came off the bench in that game for his first appearance in more than three weeks.

Paris Saint-Germain will be without both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe when the Ligue 1 leaders take on Amiens on Saturday.

Neymar has not played since suffering a rib injury against Montpellier on February 1, forcing him to miss league wins over Nantes and Lyon, as well as the midweek Coupe de France quarter-final triumph over Dijon.

With Borussia Dortmund coming up in the Champions League next week, PSG boss Thomas Tuchel has opted against taking any risks with the Brazil international.

Mbappe played the entire game in the 6-1 thrashing of Dijon on Wednesday, including scoring his side's second goal just before half-time, but will not be involved at all against Amiens.

"We won't take any risks, obviously, but at the same time we'll put out a strong team," Tuchel had said at his pre-match press conference on Friday, prior to naming his squad.

Abdou Diallo, Presnel Kimpembe, Layvin Kurzawa and Thomas Meunier are also absentees for the game against relegation-threatened opponents, along with Pablo Sarabia.

However, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos are included in a 19-man squad as the reigning champions aim to move 15 points clear of nearest rivals Marseille, who are away at Lille on Sunday.

Erling Haaland has used the example of Kylian Mbappe to show he still has significant room for improvement despite a superb start to life at Borussia Dortmund.

Following a January move from Red Bull Salzburg, Haaland scored eight goals in his first four appearances for Dortmund, despite starting his opening two games on the bench - exploits that saw him named Bundesliga player of the month for January on Friday.

The teenager has understandably drawn high praise for his initial impact in Germany's top flight, which followed a series of eye-catching displays in the Champions League as he contributed eight goals in six outings for Salzburg.

However, Haaland believes he still has much work to do and the Norwegian highlighted Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe - a World Cup winner with France at the age of 19 - as someone he has yet to reach the level of.

"I always said to myself that my dream is to become one of the best players in the world," Haaland said in an interview with the Bundesliga's official website.

"I knew when I was young that I was good, but you know, it's also a long way to go. When I got my first professional contract in Bryne, I was thinking 'this is a good thing'. But on the other side, it's nothing compared to others.

"Also, when I was in Salzburg, I started scoring goals there, but if I'm realistic, I look at Kylian Mbappe, he's scoring, he's banging in goals in Ligue 1, so you know, you can always reach a higher level in football."

For the time being, the 19-year-old believes he still has work to do to emulate the feats of his father, Alf-Inge Haaland, a defender and midfielder who represented the likes of Manchester City and Leeds United as well as earning regular caps for his country.

Asked if he had already enjoyed a better career than his dad, Erling Haaland replied: "No, not yet. He has 34 games for Norway, and I think over 200 games in the Premier League in England, so I'm still missing a bit."

Kylian Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia starred as Paris Saint-Germain eased past Dijon 6-1 in the Coupe de France quarter-finals. 

An own goal from Wesley Lautoa opened the scoring for PSG after just 48 seconds, but Thomas Tuchel's men were pegged back by Mounir Chouiar in the 13th minute. 

Mbappe made it 2-1 shortly before half-time before Thiago Silva and Sarabia made sure of progression to the last four.

PSG's fifth came as Senou Coulibaly inadvertently diverted an Mbappe strike into the net before the France star laid an injury-time second on a plate for Sarabia to round off a rout.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo defended Kylian Mbappe following his strop at being substituted early by head coach Thomas Tuchel, insisting the star forward is not a "spoiled child".

Mbappe vocally questioned Tuchel's decision to replace him after 68 minutes with PSG already five goals ahead in last weekend's 5-0 Ligue 1 rout of Montpellier.

Former France international Christophe Dugarry criticised the youngster's reaction and said he has lost respect for his 21-year-old compatriot.

However, Mbappe has since played 90 minutes in back-to-back games for the Ligue 1 champions and Leonardo attempted to further play down the incident amid links to Real Madrid.

"I heard things about Mbappe. On his personality. It makes me feel uncomfortable," he told Canal+. 

"If a player leaves the field, and talks to the coach, okay... he is at fault. We will talk about it and settle this. But to say that he is a spoiled child? I don't accept that. 

"He's an adorable, very committed person and a fantastic player."

Mbappe has formed a formidable partnership with Neymar this term, scoring 38 goals between them in all competitions.

And Leonardo questioned the negativity surrounding PSG, who are on a 21-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

"In the top four players in the world, there is one 35 years old, another 32 years old and the other two are 28 and 21 years old," Leonardo said.

"And those two are with us. Let us rejoice. I am a happy sports director. We should take advantage of that. It's the joy of football. We have to stop talking about the problems."

PSG remain on course for a domestic and European quadruple as they prepare for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Borussia Dortmund later this month.

The French giants have been eliminated at this stage in the past three seasons, but Leonardo vowed his side will take on Bundesliga outfit Dortmund with no fear.

"In recent times, I have taken a step back and I have tried to see how it is going [around the club]," he said. 

"Whenever the knockout round of the Champions League looms, there is the same trial. 

"We're starting to talk too much. We say that this team is not ready, that Ligue 1 is not at the level, that the club does not know how to manage its stars. 

"I want to understand why? Because we have the right to be happy from time to time. The team is first, with a 12-point lead. We have an incredible squad. 

"Our best players are in shape. Why do we have to be worried every time when the last 16 arrives? Why do we have to stress? It won't be a matter of life and death. 

"We're just playing a Champions League match. I think the team is ready. If we win, that's good. Otherwise, too bad, PSG will continue to grow. We have to get out of this."

Substitute Edinson Cavani scored his first Ligue 1 goal since August as Paris Saint-Germain held off a second-half Lyon fightback to win 4-2 on Sunday and open up a 12-point lead at the summit.

The runaway leaders took a two-goal advantage into half-time at the Parc des Princes thanks to strikes from Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe, and Marcal then comically put into his own net to further extend PSG's advantage following the restart.

But Thomas Tuchel's men were in trouble by the time of Cavani's 76th-minute introduction, Martin Terrier and Moussa Dembele scoring in quick succession as Lyon roared back.

PSG held on in tricky, windy conditions, though, and added a fourth through record goalscorer Cavani, with just his second touch, to ensure an eighth win in a row in all competitions and a healthy gap to second-placed Marseille.

Anthony Lopes thwarted Mbappe early on but was soon caught out by Di Maria, the PSG ace cutting inside from the right past Marcal and finding a gap at the near post.

Mauro Icardi then had a delightful chipped finish ruled out for offside, but there was to be no denying Mbappe, who delicately lifted the ball over Lopes when a desperate Marcelo lunge failed to cut out Thomas Meunier's centre.

PSG had another goal disallowed just before half-time, with Icardi again marginally offside before teeing up Mbappe to tap in, but their third arrived 89 seconds into the second half.

Meunier's initial cross was cut out by Thiago Mendes but his second was rifled into the net in farcical fashion by Marcal just inside the six-yard box with no PSG player nearby.

Lyon pulled one back against the run of play as Terrier's shot squirmed under Navas, before Dembele rounded off a slick team move - teed up by influential substitute Karl Toko Ekambi - to leave PSG sweating.

The visitors were without Memphis Depay and Maxwel Cornet but should have been level after 63 minutes, only for Dembele to fire off target from a glorious position.

Cavani made certain of the points three minutes after being introduced from the bench, though, his clinical finish a first goal in all competitions since the January transfer window closed.

Paris Saint-Germain reportedly have no interest in listening to offers for star Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe, 21, has repeatedly been linked to Real Madrid, rumours which only intensified after the forward was involved in a bust-up with coach Thomas Tuchel.

But PSG are prepared to make the France international see out his contract, rather than lose one of their star players.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STANDING FIRM OVER MBAPPE AMID MADRID LINKS

PSG will not listen to offers for Mbappe amid links to Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Mbappe is contracted in Paris until 2022 and the Ligue 1 giants are willing to make him see out his deal.

PSG have also tried to extend Mbappe's contract, moves which are set to continue despite his seeming unhappiness at the club.

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under some pressure at Old Trafford, Mauricio Pochettino has not given up on becoming Manchester United manager ahead of next season, according to the Mirror.

- While Pochettino may arrive, Paul Pogba seems likely to leave United. Tuttosport reports the midfielder and Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala dream of playing together again, with Pogba perhaps set for a return to Turin. Dybala is in contract talks with Juventus with his deal expiring in 2022.

- Jack Grealish seems to know where he wants to be. Goal reports the midfielder is ready to join Manchester United from Aston Villa, although no formal talks have taken place. The Sun says Grealish prefers Manchester United over other clubs, while the Mirror reports Manchester City have joined the race for the Englishman.

- With Luis Suarez set to miss most of the rest of the season due to injury, Barcelona are eyeing a move for … Luis Suarez. El Larguero reports Barcelona have made contact with Real Zaragoza over the forward, who is on loan from Watford. Suarez has scored 14 goals in the Segunda Division this season.

- On loan at Newcastle United from Tottenham, Danny Rose will be watched by Paris Saint-Germain ahead of a possible move at the end of the season, according to The Sun.

Presnel Kimpembe may have been guilty of "overconfidence" with the mistake that preceded a tense finale in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 victory over Nantes on Tuesday, said Thomas Tuchel.

Mauro Icardi's first-half goal was added to by Thilo Kehrer to put PSG in control of the Ligue 1 game at La Beaujoire, on a night when the Parisians were without Neymar due to a rib injury.

However, Kimpembe's attempt to flick a pass from Marco Verratti behind his standing leg and to Kehrer ended up going straight to Moses Simon, who raced through to score with 22 minutes remaining.

Simon missed a one-on-one with Keylor Navas and substitute Renaud Emond wasted a glorious chance to snatch a point for Nantes in stoppage time.

"Sometimes it's like that. The pitch was difficult and I am impressed with the way we played for 70 minutes," Tuchel told Canal+.

"It was excellent. We were aggressive and we had total control. We could have made 4-0 and after one mistake, it was 2-1.

"It may be overconfidence, but it can happen. You shouldn't take too many risks. They had opportunities and played with great courage afterwards.

"It's football. But the most important thing is that we had quality, and we always had opportunities to score the third. But the mentality is excellent."

Kylian Mbappe started despite reacting angrily to being substituted during Saturday's 5-0 victory over Montpellier at the Parc des Princes.

The World Cup winner was bright in the first half but missed a couple of chances as PSG came under pressure in the closing stages.

Asked for his assessment of Mbappe's display, Tuchel said: "He played a top match."

Kehrer was frustrated PSG were unable to find a third goal but refused to lay blame on Kimpembe for the pressure they came under.

"In the second half, we had big chances, but we didn't score and we didn't kill the match. We knew that Nantes play well at home and remain aggressive. They pushed and it was not easy," said Kehrer.

"I don't think [Kimpembe's mistake] made us doubtful. We felt like we were always in control. In matches, there are always mistakes. We are a team and we are here to win."

Mauro Icardi and Thilo Kehrer were on target as Paris Saint-Germain ground out a 2-1 win against Nantes in the absence of Neymar at La Beaujoire on Tuesday.

The build-up to the game was overshadowed by talk of discontent at PSG, with Thomas Tuchel frustrated by Neymar's decision to hold a birthday party on Sunday and Kylian Mbappe reacting angrily to being substituted in Saturday's 5-0 victory over Montpellier.

The announcement that Neymar would miss the trip to Nantes with a rib injury consequently proved controversial, but Icardi and Kehrer put the visitors on the path to what looked set to be a routine win.

Moses Simon capitalised on an error from Presnel Kimpembe in the 68th minute to set up a tense final but PSG held on to make it seven straight wins in all competitions and extend their unbeaten run to 20 games.

Icardi saw his first effort in the third minute denied by Denis Petric, while Mbappe had a penalty appeal ignored after going down under pressure from Andrei Girotto.

Mbappe raced in behind the Nantes defence but lifted his attempt over, before Kimpembe saw a header cleared off the line by Abdoul Kader Bamba.

PSG got the breakthrough their attacking play deserved in the 29th minute when Mbappe sprinted beyond Girotto and cut the ball back to Angel Di Maria, whose sweeping shot found the bottom-right corner with the help of the slightest of deflections off Icardi.

Girotto's attempt to cut out a cross from Di Maria sent the ball crashing against his own crossbar early in the second half, but they doubled their lead in the 57th minute when the Argentine's corner was headed home by Kehrer.

Nantes responded positively and Kimpembe's attempt to flick a heavy pass from Marco Verratti to Kehrer was intercepted by Simon, who raced away and tucked a cool finish beyond Keylor Navas.

Substitute Thomas Meunier was kept at bay by Petric in the 90th minute and Renaud Emond missed a glorious chance to equalise in stoppage time, sending a tame volley too close to Navas.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar will miss Tuesday's Ligue 1 match away at Nantes due to a rib injury.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted the Brazil international's decision to hold a 28th birthday party two days before the fixture would not impact upon his team selection, despite describing the event as a "distraction".

But Neymar will not be involved after PSG left him out of their 19-man squad, citing a rib cartilage injury that was confirmed after tests were carried out on Monday.

Neymar played the full 90 minutes in the 5-0 home win over nine-man Montpellier on Saturday, though he had limped off towards the end of the first half in an injury scare following an awkward landing in a challenge with Arnaud Souquet.

PSG confirmed the injury did relate to that incident and will hope to have the forward back in time to face Lyon on Sunday.

The Montpellier clash was a match that also saw Neymar fume at referee Jerome Brisard, earning him a booking for dissent, with reports documenting an angry exchange with the match official that continued into the tunnel.

Neymar's fellow forward Kylian Mbappe is selected in the group to take on Nantes despite his exchange with Tuchel after being substituted in the second half.

Tuchel was unimpressed after the victory, reminding Mbappe it is he who decides which players come on or off, but said in his pre-match news conference he did not think the situation would prompt the France international to seek a transfer.

Along with Neymar, the club's injury list includes Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Ander Herrera, Juan Bernat, Abdou Diallo, Colin Dagba and Garissone Innocent.

Neymar has 13 goals in 14 Ligue 1 appearances this season, helping leaders PSG open up a 12-point advantage over Marseille in second.

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