Mauricio Pochettino is refusing to use the "weird circumstances around football" as an excuse for Paris Saint-Germain's inconsistency and vowed to solve the issue given time.

Jonathan David scored the only goal as Lille defeated PSG to go three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 in a match that saw Neymar sent off in the closing stages on his first top-flight start since January 31.

PSG have now lost three straight home Ligue 1 games for the first time since October 2007, although Neymar missed two great chances and the hosts will feel they did enough to take at least a point.

Under Pochettino, PSG have mixed some barnstorming performances – such as the 4-1 win at Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 – with some underwhelming ones.

For the Argentine, though, the uncertainty facing all teams this season due to the coronavirus pandemic is not a valid reason for PSG's patchy form.

"It could happen in some games; these are the circumstances [contrast of beating Barca and losing in Ligue 1]," he said. 

"You might tell me; these are excuses if we talked about these weird circumstances around football. But this is the reality.

"We are team with lots of ups and downs since the beginning of the season, we are not consistent for different reasons. 

"Some situations are real. We are working on it. We are missing that consistency.

"It is very difficult to justify a defeat, because today we have not been to the level that is assumed with this team, the PSG.

"This a consequence of real facts that make us to have these ups and downs. But I think we can solve it over the time."

PSG are now three points adrift of Lille with only seven games remaining but Pochettino said he felt the fight for the title would go to the wire ever since he arrived as Thomas Tuchel's replacement in January.

"The truth is I am disappointed for the result, for the performance and the important three points missed as we already talked about it before the game," added the former Tottenham bossf.

"I am not worried, since we arrived three months ago, it is a situation where we are going to have to fight until the end to see who will win the competition."

Neymar was handed his first start for Paris Saint-Germain since early February as Mauricio Pochettino's team tackled title rivals Lille.

The Brazil star forward made a 20-minute appearance in the 4-2 win over Lyon before the international break, and he was restored to the starting XI on Saturday for a crucial Parc des Princes clash.

Neymar endured a long absence after suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10.

He missed nine games across all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 triumph over his former club Barcelona.

For the visit of Lille, head coach Pochettino loaded his team with attacking talent, selecting Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria behind Moise Kean.

That could be a sign of things to come for the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

However, Pochettino was without a number of players due to fitness and health reasons, including Marco Verratti, Layvin Kurzawa and Mauro Icardi.

Pochettino discussed Neymar's anticipated return on Friday, hoping for a big contribution from the superstar over the closing two months of the season.

Having scored 13 goals in 19 games so far this term, the importance of his return is obvious to a team chasing domestic and Champions League success.

"The truth is that the international break was important for Neymar," Pochettino said. "He was able to train at a good level for two weeks.

"Now he has to play. We're happy with the way he trained. We are pleased with his involvement and improvements in the areas he needs to improve."

PSG headed into Saturday's game sitting top of Ligue 1, albeit only ahead of Lille on goal difference.

Mauricio Pochettino is confident speculation around Kylian Mbappe's future, which the player himself provoked this week, will not have a negative impact on Paris Saint-Germain in the final weeks of the season.

PSG have been trying to secure new contracts for superstars Mbappe and Neymar, but progress appears more likely in the case of the Brazil forward.

Mbappe, like fellow Champions League sensation Erling Haaland, continues to be linked with the world's top clubs.

While Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland's representatives reportedly met with Barcelona and Real Madrid on Thursday, Mbappe's actions also added to doubts around his future.

The France forward told RTL constant discussion of his performances in his home country was "tiring", especially as, playing in Ligue 1, "I'm here all the time".

"I knew when I signed in Paris that I was going to be in this context," Mbappe said. "We'll see after that."

The 22-year-old added it "of course" would play into his thinking when considering his next move, although no decision has yet been made.

Mbappe said: "If I had moved forward, I would have come to talk about it by now. Of course, when I make my decision, I will come and talk about it."

These words could reasonably worry PSG coach Pochettino, who relies heavily on Mbappe.

The former Monaco man has 30 goals and nine assists in all competitions this season, his 39 goal involvements ranking fifth across Europe's 'top five' leagues.

But Pochettino said ahead of PSG's top-of-the-table clash with Lille: "I didn't listen to what Kylian said. I can't comment on it and I don't have an opinion on that."

 

Mbappe became the youngest player to reach 100 Ligue 1 goals prior to the international break and has a career-high six league assists against Lille.

Pochettino expects the World Cup winner, netting once every 91.9 minutes this season, to set talk of his future aside and perform again.

"The truth is that he is good, he has a good state of mind and has trained well," Pochettino said. "He came back ready to help the team.

"We will manage the whole team and not just Kylian in order to achieve our end-of-season goals.

"Things need time to be settled. Kylian is very focused on giving the best for the team. I don't see any problem with his situation. He will give everything to help the team win.

"I don't think Kylian's end of season will be affected by all this. He's focused on giving his best every training session and every game."

PSG are without a host of players against Lille, including Marco Verratti, who is set to be evaluated again this weekend ahead of the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.

But Neymar, restricted to just 19 appearances this season, is ready to have an impact in the run-in.

"The truth is that the international break was important for Neymar," Pochettino said. "He was able to train at a good level for two weeks.

"Now he has to play. We're happy with the way he trained. We are pleased with his involvement and improvements in the areas he needs to improve."

PSG have not lost at home to Lille in the league since April 1996 but, following an away goalless draw, could go two without a win against them for the first time since a run of four games between January 2010 and April 2012.

Kylian Mbappe was substituted in Paris Saint-Germain's win over Lyon as a precaution after he twisted his ankle, says boss Mauricio Pochettino. 

The France superstar scored twice in the 4-2 triumph to bring up 100 career Ligue 1 goals, but there was concern when he limped off to be replaced by the returning Neymar with 20 minutes remaining at the Groupama Stadium. 

However, speaking at a news conference after the game, head coach Pochettino moved to allay fears over the situation. 

"The Kylian Mbappe substitution was just a precaution. He had a knock, a twisted ankle," Pochettino said.

Danilo Pereira and Angel Di Maria were also on the scoresheet against PSG's title rivals, with Islam Slimani and Maxwel Cornet scoring consolations for Lyon. 

Pochettino's side are now back at the summit of the table after Lille lost to Nimes, and the Argentinian was particularly impressed with the conviction of his side, given Lyon had a week off while PSG defeated Lille in the Coupe de France on Wednesday. 

"I'm very happy with our performance, the truth is that we played very good football for 60 to 65 minutes against a very difficult opponent like Lyon," he added.  

"I'm happy, the players deserve all the credit because of the way they played. And we faced a very tough team who had all week to prepare against us, while we produced a great performance midweek against Lille. So, I want to congratulate my players for a good job. 

"It's very important to keep improving after two and a half months, I think we have played 19 or 20 games. Improving every day is the most important thing and playing at this level for 90 minutes is our aim.  

"We need to take what we showed for 60 minutes and do that for an entire game. With hard work we'll get there, it is true that there is no time, but we are at the beginning of our project and after two and a half months we are alive in three competitions, Ligue 1, the Coupe de France and the Champions League."

Neymar has been included in Paris Saint-Germain's squad for the Ligue 1 clash at Lyon on Sunday, head coach Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed. 

The Brazil star has been out of action since suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10.

He has missed nine games across all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 triumph over his former club Barcelona, but the 29-year-old could make his return at the Groupama Stadium.

Speaking at his pre-match media conference, Pochettino revealed that while Neymar has been included in the squad against Lyon, he is unlikely to feature from the start.

"Neymar is in the list of players who will be in the group," he said. "It is a great joy to be able to count on him. It's a big step for him and for the team.

"We like to apply common sense. After the match against Caen, it's been about five weeks or almost six since he played. It will be difficult to see him from the start of the match.

"It's already good that he can be there. He will get in shape to have more and more minutes."

Second-placed PSG are level on points with Lyon, who sit in third, and are looking to end a winless run of four top-flight games against the other top-four teams. 

However, the reigning champions go into the clash in fine form on the road, having won their last three away games in Ligue 1 without conceding a goal – the best current run in the league. 

PSG suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Lyon in December under former boss Thomas Tuchel and Pochettino has warned his players to expect another tough game against an "aggressive" side.

"The truth is, it's a very important game," he added. "I don't know if it's a final but it's almost like it. It is three very important points for the standings. It won't be definitive, but it will be very important for the classification.

"The circumstances of each match are different. We hope that it [the defeat] will not be repeated but we expect an aggressive Lyon with a lot of quality.

"The players in the middle in Lyon are great players and it will be difficult. Either team can win. We respect Lyon but we are going there to bring back the three points."

PSG announced Mauro Icardi will miss the game after suffering a low-grade muscular tear to his left thigh, while they will also be without Juan Bernat, Pablo Sarabia, Thilo Kehrer and Alexandre Letellier.

Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with the spirit his Paris Saint-Germain team showed to defeat Lille in the Coupe de France after a difficult few days.

PSG were 3-0 winners against the Ligue 1 leaders as they were in action for the first time since a weekend defeat to Nantes that was disrupted by burglaries at the family homes of Angel Di Maria and Marquinhos.

Di Maria was substituted in that loss to attend to the matter, but both players were in the XI as goals from Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe secured a quarter-final berth on Wednesday.

It was not an entirely convincing PSG display, as Lille had 18 shots to their 11 and Keylor Navas was required to save a penalty for the third time this season.

Pochettino was only interested in praise for his players and their families, however.

"Of course I'm so happy with the performance and the spirit of the team," the coach told the club's official channel.

"They deserve massive credit and I want to congratulate them but most of all the families because the last few days were very tough for everyone.

"We all feel what happened to Marqui and Angel. It really touched the group and that's why I want to congratulate the team, the players and the families suffering around them.

"I'm so happy. I think we fully deserved to go through to the quarter-finals and, in this difficult circumstance, I'm happy for the 3-0."

Di Maria had two shots and created a single chance, while Marquinhos contributed four tackles, five clearances and a block.

Navas was the star of the show, though, denying Yusuf Yazici from 12 yards with 12 minutes remaining.

Only Rui Silva and Oliver Baumann (both four) have kept out more penalties than Navas in all competitions this season among goalkeepers across Europe's 'top five' leagues.

"He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world," Pochettino said of Navas, who finished with five saves in all. "His level is incredible."

Mauricio Pochettino said he is searching for answers to Paris Saint-Germain's post-Champions League struggles after the Ligue 1 holders were stunned by lowly Nantes on Sunday.

PSG missed the chance to go top of the Ligue 1 table following a shock 2-1 home defeat against relegation-threatened Nantes.

Pochettino's side looked on track to claim maximum points thanks to Julian Draxler's 42nd-minute opener, but two unanswered goals in the second half lifted Nantes to their first win away to PSG in Ligue 1 since 2002.

PSG have now lost their last three Ligue 1 fixtures immediately after Champions League clashes – the French giants fell to Lyon 1-0 following their 5-1 rout of Istanbul Basaksehir on December 9 and suffered a 2-0 defeat against Monaco after crushing Barcelona 4-1 at Camp Nou on February 16.

Now, after being shocked in Paris on the back of their 1-1 draw with Barca in the second leg of the last-16 tie on Wednesday, head coach Pochettino told reporters: "Surely there must be some connection, which we have to find.

"After the match in Barcelona, we played with practically the same players and you could think that we lacked energy. But today we brought in new players.

"It's clear that the energetic and stressful demands of the Champions League are hard for the team, especially when the matches are as physical as tonight's.

"In the first half we absolutely dominated the match. In the second half, when we conceded the goal, it cost us a lot and that's when it affects us to have played a match as important as the one we played here on Wednesday."

It was a forgettable outing for Pochettino and last season's Champions League finalists PSG, who are second and three points behind leaders Lille through 29 Ligue 1 rounds.

PSG have lost two consecutive home games in Ligue 1 for the first time since November 2012.

Pochettino is the first PSG coach to lose three of his first 12 Ligue 1 games since Antoine Kombouare in 2009 (four).

Meanwhile, Angel Di Maria and an as of yet unnamed PSG team-mate had their houses broken into during the Nantes showdown.

Di Maria was taken off midway through the second half at Parc des Princes, after a curious discussion between officials – including sporting director Leonardo, who appeared visibly angry – in the stands, and the coaching staff on the touchline over the phone.

The substitution caused confusion - not only off the pitch, but also on it. PSG conceded just before Di Maria went off, and then again nine minutes later to throw away their lead and ultimately lose.

On the Di Maria case, Pochettino added: "There are situations outside football that we should be aware of.

"The footballers are the first to know the disappointment of losing the three points but there are other situations, beyond football, that the footballers and we should be concerned about, I think you already know that."

Angel Di Maria and an as of yet unnamed Paris Saint-Germain team-mate had their houses broken into during Sunday's game with Nantes.

Di Maria was taken off midway through the second half at Parc des Princes, after a curious discussion between officials – including sporting director Leonardo, who appeared visibly angry – in the stands, and the coaching staff on the touchline over the phone.

The substitution caused confusion - not only off the pitch, but also on it. PSG conceded just before Di Maria went off, and then again nine minutes later to throw away their lead and ultimately lose 2-1.

After Di Maria, who signed a new deal with the capital club earlier this week, went off, Mauricio Pochettino spoke to his compatriot in the dressing room before returning to the touchline.

RMC Sport reported during the game that Di Maria had subsequently left the stadium and that he had been taken off due to a "serious personal matter."

Canal+ and RMC Sport provided a further update at full-time, stating that Di Maria, along with a PSG team-mate, had their homes targeted while the game was ongoing.

According to the media outlets, PSG confirmed the reports, with RMC Sport also claiming that both attacks took place while the respective families of the players were at home.

Mauro Icardi suffered a burglary in February, while Di Maria has previously been the victim of such a crime, during his time at Manchester United in 2014-15.

While PSG did not immediately release an official statement, Mauricio Pochettino told a news conference: "There are situations outside of football that also explain the second half.

"It's not an excuse but there was a drop in energy. We talked about things other than football after the game in the locker room."

"The group is very concerned."

Mauricio Pochettino revealed Neymar is close to returning for Paris Saint-Germain as he urged critics to respect the team's Champions League win over Barcelona.

The PSG head coach did not specify whether Neymar would come into contention for Sunday's home match against lowly Nantes, who sit 19th in the 20-team Ligue 1 table.

Speaking on Saturday, Pochettino faced questions about the performance of his players in the second leg of their clash with Barcelona, with a string of excellent saves by Keylor Navas, including a penalty stop from Lionel Messi, helping the French side snatch a 1-1 draw.

That clinched a 5-2 aggregate victory, and Pochettino wants to hear more admiration for such a scoreline, given the stature of the opposition.

On the question of when Neymar would return from an injury lay-off that has extended to a month, Pochettino explained: "I think I said there was a chance he'd be back for the Barcelona game.

"We also knew it would be difficult to set a timeframe because players' recoveries can be difficult to predict. He has trained with the squad today, we are pleased with his progress, and we hope he will be back with the team soon."

But Pochettino was probed over how PSG allowed Barcelona to be so dominant for large parts of the second leg of their European tie, particularly the first half, and he was not happy for his team's achievement to be followed by such interrogation.

"I don't understand why we should be so focused on that," Pochettino said.

"That was the story of the first half of the second leg against Barcelona when we didn't play well. That is the reality. But focusing too much on that in my opinion would be a mistake.

"Of course we analyse everything that happens during games but we mustn't forget the team have reached the quarter-finals after beating a strong Barcelona side, and overall it finished 5-2 after 180 minutes. That is the reality.

"There have been games where we played well and lost, such as the game against Monaco [which PSG lost 2-0 last month], and other games where we haven't performed so well.

"The most important thing is to learn and we do have to improve because none of us were happy with the first half, but after achieving such a big target I think our performance in the first half can be downplayed."

With third-placed Lyon only drawing against Reims on Friday, PSG remain in the thick of a title battle, with leaders Lille having a tricky clash with Monaco on Sunday.

PSG sit second as they chase a fourth successive league title, and they cannot afford to slip up against a Nantes side who are equally in need of points.

"Yes, it will be a tough game for us," Pochettino said. "I wouldn't say it would be a trap, but we are aware that after such a happy night for the club and the fans, with us getting through in the Champions League, it is in our minds that the next game is important. That is the theory, but we know it's an important game and we have to put that into practice.

"Preparation is essential in football. We often say we are ready, but Nantes are a physical side who will make things difficult, just as Monaco did after we played Barcelona [in the first leg], but that is why our performance level is essential and we have to be fresh.

"I will try to select a team that can really battle with Nantes and have that freshness that can give us the energy that we need in this sort of game."

Mauricio Pochettino described Keylor Navas as one of the world's best goalkeepers after he helped Paris Saint-Germain past Barcelona in the Champions League.

A 1-1 draw in Paris on Wednesday sealed PSG's progress to the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory over the Catalans.

Barca were much improved compared to their first-leg display and were the dominant force in the first half in particular, firing in 16 shots, the most PSG have faced at home in the first 45 minutes of a game all season.

Lionel Messi's stunning goal cancelled out a Kylian Mbappe penalty and the Argentina star had the chance to make it 2-1 before half-time only for Navas to keep out his spot-kick.

That was one of nine saves made by the former Real Madrid keeper, whose efforts ensured Barca's threat of a comeback had largely dissipated by the final quarter of the match.

Navas' display was a timely reminder of his qualities following a report in England suggesting Pochettino is interested in signing Manchester United's David de Gea for next season.

The PSG boss appears to be perfectly happy with the number one he has at his disposal.

"Keylor had a huge game," he told RMC Sport. "We can say his actions show his quality. He just proves that he's at the highest level in the world.

"I think we all saw him tonight."

Defender Marquinhos was also full of praise for Navas for largely keeping Barca at bay in the first half, in which the visitors had 73 per cent of the ball.

"It was a tough match. We knew the context was going to be different compared to the first leg," he said.

"Since that defeat, Barca put together better matches. They had the courage to press very high and put us in difficulty to get the ball out.

"There are good and bad times in football. In a match, you have to know how to hold on. We were able to do that, with the help of our great goalkeeper, who made the difference.

"We were better in the second half and we deserved to go through."

Mauricio Pochettino explained he simply could not risk Neymar as he is "not in a condition to compete" against former club Barcelona on Wednesday.

The world's most expensive footballer suffered an adductor injury playing for Paris Saint-Germain against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

Initial predictions suggested Neymar could return for the Champions League last-16 second leg this week.

PSG won the first match 4-1 at Camp Nou and Neymar has been progressing in training, with Pochettino repeatedly insisting he was on schedule.

But the head coach acknowledged last week he was not guaranteed to be back in the squad for the visit of the Blaugrana.

A medical update from the club on Tuesday subsequently confirmed Neymar would miss out, and Pochettino added in his news conference that an appearance had become unrealistic.

"It is not a decision," he told a news conference. "The fact is the player cannot play. He is not in a condition to compete.

"He made a great effort to get back quickly, but the goal is not just the Champions League.

"It's a difficult time for him but I hope he can come back as soon as possible."

Wednesday's encounter will be the 21st game Neymar has missed this season, playing just 18 times in all competitions.

Since joining PSG in 2017, he has made 25 Champions League appearances - scoring 20 goals and assisting nine - but only six of these outings have come in the knockout stages. Five of the six were in the 2019-20 run to the final.

Although Neymar will be absent again, he at least will not be in the opposition XI as he was just months before moving to Paris, inspiring Barca's epic 6-1 second-leg win to complete a remarkable aggregate comeback in 2016-17.

However, Barca were at home for the second leg on that occasion and no team in the history of the European Cup has advanced after reaching the halfway point of a tie three or more goals behind with the away match still to play.

Pochettino, only appointed at PSG this year, certainly has no concerns about history repeating itself, even if he is guarded against complacency.

"For us, the past goes back to January 3, when we joined the club," he said.

"It's a game we have to go through to reach the next round. That will be our approach from the first minute.

"We have to be consistent for 90 minutes. In football, the most important thing is to be focused.

"We're going to start as if it were 0-0 and we want to win to qualify."

That focus means Pochettino had little interest in entertaining talk on the future of Kylian Mbappe, the hat-trick hero in the first leg.

"This is a situation that the club has been managing for a long time," Pochettino said. "As I have always said, both sides must agree.

"But both the club and the player are focused on meeting the goals that the club set at the start of the season, arriving at the end of the season having achieved or gone close to those goals."

Paris Saint-Germain will "fight to the death" to win a first-ever Champions League this season, according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino. 

The Ligue 1 champions go into Wednesday's last-16 second leg against Barcelona at the Parc des Princes well placed to reach the quarter-finals after a thumping 4-1 win over Ronald Koeman's side in the reverse fixture last month., 

Indeed, no team in the history of the competition has failed to progress from a knockout tie over two legs after winning the first leg by a margin of three goals away from home. 

They have also scored at least once in each of their last 22 Champions League games at home (61 goals), in a run that dates back to December 2015. The last team to keep a clean sheet away at PSG in the competition was Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid (0-0 in October 2015).

PSG were beaten in last year's final by Bayern Munich – Kingsley Coman scoring the only goal in a slender win for the Bundesliga side – but Pochettino insisted the painful memories of that defeat will not derail them this term. 

"Clearly, it is the ambition of the club to win [the competition]," he told the LFP.  

"There are a lot of other teams who want to win it; it's not that easy. We are aware of our responsibility, and we will fight to the death to achieve it.

"We are unaffected by the past. We came here with a free spirit and without prejudice. These ideas convey only negativity. 

"Staying focused on the past limits your future possibilities. We come with new energy. We think that we have the potential to remain in contention in the Champions League. 

"In football, conviction brings you closer to winning."

Pochettino was in charge of Barca's city rivals Espanyol between 2009 and 2012, although he said that does not provide him with any extra impetus to knock them out of the competition. 

"I am not a fan of Espanyol who goes beyond the limits," he added. "Winning in Barcelona has a special flavor.

"But we want to win for PSG, for our players, for the fans, and finally, for ourselves."

The French giants eased to a 3-0 victory over Brest in the last 32 of the Coupe de France on Saturday to make it 12 wins, one draw and two defeats in Pochettino's first two months in charge after replacing Thomas Tuchel. 

The Argentinian is clearly enjoying his time at the helm of a club he played for between 2001 and 2003 and has cited training as the most stimulating aspect of his job.

"Coming to training every morning, being with the players, the staff, trying to improve, that's what motivates me," he said. "Maybe I even have more motivation to go to the training centre than to be in competition. 

"Within the staff, we believe a lot in the preparation, the building of a state of form. Motivation, concentration, it is built day by day."

Mauricio Pochettino is pleased with the progress made by Paris Saint-Germain since taking over but has warned his players they cannot take anything for granted against Barcelona next week.

The French giants eased to a 3-0 victory over Brest in the last 32 of the Coupe de France on Saturday to make it 12 wins, one draw and two defeats in Pochettino's first two months in place at the Parc des Princes.

That includes a run of three wins in a row in all competitions heading into Wednesday's Champions League last-16 second leg with Barca, which PSG lead 4-1 following an impressive display in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou.

No team in the history of the European Cup has ever progressed from a knockout tie over two legs after losing the first leg at home by a margin of three goals, but Pochettino is not looking ahead to the quarter-finals just yet.

"We take it match after match and look to win them all in each competition," Pochettino told Eurosport. "For us, this is an extraordinary challenge. 

"Next is the match with Barcelona. You have to be careful because they are a good team and we will have to remain focused."

Kylian Mbappe scored twice for PSG in their cup victory at Stade Francis-Le Ble, either side of Pablo Sarabia's strike, to keep the holders on course for a record-extending 14th triumph in the competition.

PSG had some nervy moments before Mbappe killed things off 17 minutes from time, with keeper Sergio Rico making seven saves in total, compared to three stops for opposite number Sebastien Cibois.

But Pochettino was happy with his side's display, and in particular the manner of their pressing in midfield - Leandro Paredes leading the way in that area with 12 turnovers in total.

"The pressing shows my style, yes. After two months of work, and some 15 games since I joined, it's starting to take shape," he said. "The players are listening to my ideas and the way I want us to play.

"Physically, I am also happy with the way the players work every day and we are approaching our best condition. We are always looking for perfection, but I am already happy on that side.

"The goal today was to win and qualify, so I'm happy with the performance. We gave away a few chances but Sergio was fantastic. We had to think a lot about this match and not the one on Wednesday."

Mbappe's second brace in as many matches took his tally for the season to 25 goals in 32 matches, the forward following up a sublime solo strike that saw him carry the ball half the length of the field with a somewhat fortunate goal with his chest.

"They are a team that are not easy to play at home," Mbappe said. "They play good football, so congratulations to them. 

"But we came here to qualify and that is what we did. Now we will prepare normally for the Barcelona game in a serene way, as we always do."

Thilo Kehrer was substituted at half-time by Pochettino, who later confirmed it was a precautionary measure.

Superstar forward Neymar is another player nursing an injury heading into the clash with former side Barca, but Abdou Diallo is hopeful his team-mate will make his comeback on Wednesday.

"He had a great session yesterday. We'll see how he feels. I hope he will be with us," Diallo said.

"As for Kehrer, we also have Timothee Pembele and [Colin] Dagba standing ready and we trust them."

Mauricio Pochettino could not confirm Neymar would make his return from injury against former club Barcelona but remains "very happy" with his recovery.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar suffered an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

A predicted four-week lay-off would accommodate a comeback against Barca in the Champions League, having missed the first-leg trip to Camp Nou where Kylian Mbappe inspired a 4-1 away win.

Pochettino has since repeatedly insisted Neymar is on schedule, although PSG's win rate has improved from 66.7 per cent to 73.7 per cent when he has been missing this season.

With the last-16 second leg now just five days away, the PSG coach was asked explicitly about the potential involvement of the world's most expensive footballer against his former club.

"He will not be in the squad for the match against Brest," Pochettino said on the eve of PSG's Coupe de France clash.

"But we are very happy with his progress and we will see in the next few days if he can be part of the group for Barcelona."

Stepping up in Neymar's absence, Mbappe became just the 10th visiting player ever to score a hat-trick away at Barca – and only the second in the Champions League.

But while Neymar – long linked with a transfer back to the Blaugrana – has appeared committed to a future at PSG, speculation persists about Mbappe.

The World Cup winner, back from suspension on Saturday, has been involved in 32 goals in all competitions (23 goals, nine assists), the sixth-most among all players across Europe's top-five leagues in 2020-21.

Pochettino added of Mbappe: "We have a very good relationship, very natural. The club and I want him to stay.

"It's a two-way decision between the club and the player. He is a very important player for us, and we hope he will stay with us for many years to come."

Rather than Mbappe's heroics, Neymar's return or any other Champions League matters, Pochettino is focused on successfully negotiating the Brest tie.

"We have to give importance to [Saturday's] game," he said. "We only think about the Brest game. We know it's going to be a tough game.

"This is an important competition for us. Our focus is on tomorrow's game."

Neymar is progressing well in his recovery from an adductor injury, according to Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino. 

The Brazil star has been out of action since suffering the blow in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10. 

His timeline for a return put him on track to feature in the second leg of the Champions League last-16 clash with his former club Barcelona on March 10, PSG holding a commanding 4-1 lead in the tie. 

And, following PSG's 1-0 victory over Bordeaux on Wednesday, Pochettino gave an optimistic update on Neymar's status. 

He told a media conference: "Tomorrow, we will evaluate the players and the fact that we can recover a few players, that would be a good thing for the match on Saturday [against Brest in the Coupe de France]. 

"Neymar's progression is favourable. In the coming days, we will assess to see if he can be ready." 

PSG remain two points behind Lille at the top of Ligue 1, Les Dogues scoring twice in stoppage time to beat Marseille 2-0 and stay at the summit. 

"I think we started the game well. We had a good first half," added Pochettino. "In the second half, Bordeaux increased the pace of play, we suffered a bit, but then we controlled. We defended well and I'm very happy with the team's performance. 

"We know that we have 10 matches left and that if we win them, with direct confrontations, we know that we will be champions. 

"For all the time that I have been in the business, I know that you have to be patient." 

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