Mauricio Pochettino accepts he is under pressure to succeed at Paris Saint-Germain and has warned the club's superstar players they must prove they deserve to wear the shirt. 

The 48-year-old, out of work since leaving Tottenham in November 2019, was finally confirmed as Thomas Tuchel's successor at the Parc des Princes on Saturday. 

Former Spurs, Southampton and Espanyol boss Pochettino has signed a contract with the Ligue 1 champions until June 2022, including an option for a further year. 

Pochettino is returning to the club where he spent two and a half seasons as a player, during which time he lifted the Intertoto Cup in 2000-01. 

PSG are accustomed to winning silverware on a far more regular basis these days and the Argentine coach is well aware of the high standards expected of him and his squad. 

"I am very happy to be here. It's a great opportunity, the project is incredible," he told his new club's official website. "Being able to be involved in Paris Saint-Germain on a daily basis is something great. 

"I can't wait to rebuild this relationship I already have with the supporters. I have always had a good relationship with them after my time here as a player. 

"Paris is one of the biggest clubs in the world, and in a club like this, victory alone doesn't count - you have to win of course, but with a certain style.  

"The players are some of the best here; they are the main players and they have to love what they do on the pitch, that's a very important aspect. 

"The demands and expectations are high. I like it when the relationship is almost a friendship between the players and the entire staff.  

"And I want all of the people who are involved with the club, stadium and training centre to feel like a part of this project. 

"There has always been a tradition of excellence in this club - the players must deserve to wear this jersey.  

"I think the current squad is amazing. I think we can accomplish what the club want, and what the players want, because they are competitors who want to lift trophies." 

Pochettino, previously linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United, was sacked by Spurs after five impressive years in charge in north London. 

He succeeds Tuchel with the aim of continuing PSG's domestic dominance and going one step further than last term's runners-up finish in the Champions League. 

In order to achieve that, though, the new boss acknowledges the importance of first uniting everyone at the club. 

"Our main goal is to get everyone to pull in the same direction," he said. "We want to put in place a mentality, a game philosophy, and that everyone adheres to it.  

"The idea is that everyone should want to win for the club above all else. We want to be a strong club, with a strong structure.  

"When everyone, from the players to the staff, to the management, experiences the same emotions, it's something magical." 

Pochettino's first game in charge will be Wednesday's league trip to Saint-Etienne, with PSG aiming to bridge the one-point gap on top two sides Lyon and Lille.

Mauricio Pochettino is back in management. Over a year after leaving Tottenham, the Argentine coach has landed one of Europe's biggest jobs.

Paris Saint-Germain appointed Pochettino as Thomas Tuchel's replacement on Saturday, and the new boss is sure to have ideas about players he would like to join him.

PSG have been hit by a run of injuries this season, with Neymar currently sidelined with an ankle problem.

Their owners are no strangers to big-money purchases, though the coronavirus pandemic has made all of Europe's big clubs take stock and rein in their spending.

But who could be the likely candidates to join PSG under Pochettino?

Christian Eriksen

Eriksen played some stellar stuff at Tottenham under Pochettino. Indeed, in 191 Premier League appearances during the Argentinian's tenure, the former Ajax prodigy scored 43 times and provided 53 assists.

A set-piece specialist, it is somewhat surprising that only six of Eriksen's goals came directly from free-kicks, from 99 attempts.

He created 493 chances, with 64 of these counting as big opportunities, while he averaged a goal every 370 minutes and hit the woodwork on 17 occasions.

However, even in the latter days of Pochettino's time at Spurs, Eriksen was making noises about wanting to leave and, with six months remaining on his deal, he was sold to Inter last January.

It is a move which has far from paid off, and Eriksen has made just 12 Serie A starts for Antonio Conte's team. In December, Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta confirmed the Denmark international had been placed on the transfer list.

"I can confirm that Christian Eriksen is on the transfer list," Marotta told Sky Sport Italy. "He's going to leave in January. He's not functional to our plans and he had difficulty here at Inter. I think it's right that Christian goes away to find more space."

PSG had been tentatively linked with him prior to Pochettino's arrival, and a reunion with his former manager could be just the tonic for Eriksen.

Dele Alli

Another player who had been mooted as a target for PSG is Eriksen's former Spurs team-mate Alli.

Having signed from MK Dons in 2015, Alli transformed into a Premier League sensation and England regular under Pochettino's guidance.

He made 123 league starts for Pochettino, averaging a goal every 243 minutes, scoring 44 times in total and creating 203 chances, including 29 assists.

Despite a bright start under Pochettino's replacement Jose Mourinho, Alli has been out in the cold this season, starting just one league game – on the opening weekend, in a defeat to Everton – and scoring just two goals, both of them coming in the Europa League.

With a place in England's squad for next year's European Championship looking doubtful, Alli may well be on the move next month, and linking up with Pochettino would surely help revive his career.

Alli said in 2017 that he saw the coach as a father figure.

Lionel Messi

Former Espanyol defender and manager Pochettino recalled in 2018 that Messi was agonisingly close to joining Barcelona's cross-city rivals in 2005, only for a suggested loan move to break down.

Messi has gone on to win six Ballons d'Or, 34 major trophies and even surpass Pele's haul of 643 goals at a single club, as well as set countless other records.

Pochettino has made no secret of a desire to work with his compatriot. At PSG, the stars may finally align.

Messi reluctantly elected to stay at Barca for this season and see out the remainder of his contract, but he is set to become a free agent at the end of the campaign, assuming the new president cannot persuade him to sign a new deal.

Any deal would be far from cheap, but with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on board, the lure of Paris and Pochettino could be decisive for Messi.

A Blaugrana legend, Messi could lead PSG's push for Champions League glory and prove he is far from close to the end of his career – much like the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo has done at Juventus, albeit without a European crown so far.

A front three of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi would set Europe alight, and perhaps finally earn Pochettino the success his work has deserved.

Paris Saint-Germain have used the mid-season break to replace Thomas Tuchel with Mauricio Pochettino, and the new head coach has some big issues to contend with.

A 4-0 win over Strasbourg before the mid-season break was not enough to spare Tuchel, who was relieved of his duties after two and a half years at the helm.

Tuchel left PSG having won six trophies in the French capital, while also taking the club to the brink of a long-awaited Champions League success last term.

PSG ultimately came up short, going down 1-0 to a dominant Bayern Munich in the final.

Tuchel remained in place for the new season but was only been able to guide the club to third in Ligue 1, with the Parisians losing four of their 17 matches.

Pochettino spent over two years with PSG in his playing days and was picked to take over the reins at the Parc des Princes, signing a contract until June 2022 with an option for a further year.

Here are the major issues Pochettino must contend with.

 

ASSERT LIGUE 1 DOMINANCE

While the Champions League is clearly the be-all and end-all for PSG's Qatari owners, the bedrock of their success is domestic supremacy.

Over the past eight seasons, PSG have only failed to win the Ligue 1 title once – during Unai Emery's first season in charge, when a Kylian Mbappe-inspired Monaco charged to glory.

Tuchel had little trouble in claiming back-to-back championships, albeit last season's Ligue 1 campaign was curtailed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, with the congested nature of 2020-21 making life tough for all of Europe's biggest teams, PSG find themselves point behind joint-leaders Lille and Lyon, the latter of whom recently claimed their first league win at Parc des Princes since 2007.

It is hardly an unassailable gap, though the first task for PSG's new head coach will be to return to the top of the pile, while defending their Coupe de France crown will also provide another chance for a trophy.

SECURE THAT ALL-IMPORTANT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ultimately, any coach at PSG is judged on their success – or lack thereof – in Europe.

Tuchel pushed PSG further than any other coach has in the Champions League since Qatar Sports Investments' takeover, but it was still not enough to stop Hansi Flick's Bayern completing an incredible treble.

PSG were inconsistent in this season's condensed group stage, losing at home to Manchester United and away to RB Leipzig, before a 3-1 win at Old Trafford and a 5-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir secured their place in the knockout stages.

Ronald Koeman's iffy Barcelona team await in the last 16, and there has arguably never been a better time to face the Catalan giants in Europe – although Bayern's 8-2 rout back in August may suggest differently.

Crucial to any push for silverware in UEFA's elite club competition will be getting the best out of Neymar and Mbappe. The latter missed some big chances in last season's final, and only against Basaksehir did he end a year-long run without a Champions League goal (nine games).

KEEP NEYMAR AND MBAPPE, AND THROW IN MESSI FOR GOOD MEASURE

PSG's sporting director Leonardo has confirmed contract discussions are underway with Neymar and Mbappe.

France star Mbappe has already scored 104 times across all competitions for PSG, though Real Madrid and Barca have regularly been touted as suitors – then again, which of Europe's elite clubs would not want the 22-year-old in their ranks?

Neymar, meanwhile, has consistently been linked with a move back to Barca, but that transfer is looking increasingly unlikely.

Indeed, the prospect of the Brazil superstar linking up with Lionel Messi once more seems much more likely to occur in Paris than at Camp Nou.

Messi begrudgingly decided to stay and see out the remaining year of his Barca contract but has started to hit better form again – he has scored six times in his past eight league games to surpass Pele's record of 643 goals for one club.

Koeman believes Messi is happy at Barca, but as it stands the 33-year-old is set to become the most highly sought-after free agent in history at the end of 2020-21.

While it was Manchester City and Pep Guardiola who were credited as frontrunners in the close season, PSG's owners certainly have the ambition – and funds – to make a transfer come to fruition, and it may well be down to the coach to swing Messi towards Paris, rather than the Premier League or a Barca extension.

Pochettino has previously spoken of his desire to work alongside his compatriot, and it may well be a perfect match.

Son Heung-min scored his 100th goal for Tottenham in all competitions as he netted against Leeds United, with Harry Kane the provider once again.

The South Korea forward, who moved to north London in 2015, has been in sensational form in 2020-21, and moved onto 99 Spurs goals with a cool finish on the break at Liverpool in December.

Son drew a blank in his next three outings, failing to find the target as Spurs went down 2-0 to Leicester City, before he had a goal disallowed in an EFL Cup win at Stoke City and then only managed one attempt at goal in a 1-1 draw with Wolves on December 27.

However, after Wednesday's scheduled game with Fulham was postponed, his landmark effort came against Leeds on Saturday.

Kane – who has now assisted nine of Son's 12 Premier League goals this term – whipped in a brilliant cross from the right, which his strike partner swept home first time.

Son's strike put Spurs 2-0 up just before half-time, with Kane's penalty having put Jose Mourinho's men ahead.

With 169 goals to his name, Kane is the only Spurs payer to have netted more goals than Son since September 2015.

It was also the 13th time Kane and Son have combined for a goal this season, which is a joint-record in a single Premier League campaign.

Son has scored 65 of his 100 Spurs goals in the Premier League – 35 coming from his right foot, 25 from his left, and the remainder with his head.

The former Bayer Leverkusen forward has also supplemented that tally with a further 33 assists, while he has scored 15 times in the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the departure of Thomas Tuchel midway through his third season with the French champions.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss won two straight Ligue 1 titles and took PSG to the Champions League final last season.

But he has paid the price for a slow start to the 2020-21 season amid reports of problems behind the scenes.

We have used Opta statistics to review Tuchel's reign, with Mauricio Pochettino seemingly poised to replace him.
 

ON A PAR WITH EMERY

PSG's dominance of Ligue 1 in his first two seasons means Tuchel leaves with a record that looks similar to that of his predecessor Unai Emery.

Tuchel had a record of 2.37 points per game in Ligue 1, which is exactly the same as the mark recorded by Emery and tied for the best in club history.

Among other recent PSG bosses, Laurent Blanc (2.35) was not too far behind, though Carlo Ancelotti (2.14) fared less well at an earlier stage of the club's project.

Tuchel had a top-flight win rate of 75.6 per cent (62 wins from 82 games). That is the highest PSG league win percentage, just clear of Emery (73.7).

However, once all competitions are factored in, Tuchel ends up just behind the former Arsenal and Sevilla head coach.

Emery had a total PSG win rate of 76.3 despite never making it as far as Tuchel did in the Champions League, while the German's final mark was 74.8 per cent.
 

UNWANTED HISTORY

PSG's decision to sack Tuchel came after a 4-0 win over Strasbourg last week, making him only the second Ligue 1 boss ever to be sacked mid-season immediately after winning by at least four goals.

The other was Leonardo Jardim, who was later re-hired by Monaco after Thierry Henry struggled as his replacement. 

Tuchel is the first head coach to be fired during a season despite sitting in the top three of Ligue 1 since another man who fell victim to a QSI sacking at PSG: Antoine Kombouare in the 2011-12 campaign.


GOALS GALORE BUT 19 DEFEATS

Only Blanc (173) took charge of more than Tuchel's 127 PSG matches over the QSI era.

Under Tuchel, who could call upon superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG averaged 2.67 goals per game in Ligue 1.

That was the best league scoring record of any PSG boss in history, although Emery (2.74) had a higher mark than Tuchel (2.65) when it came to all competitions.

Tuchel did suffer 19 defeats, more than any boss since QSI took over in 2011.

Emery only lost 12 times in 114 games, while Blanc lost only 16 despite being in charge of 46 more matches than Tuchel.

Both Tuchel and Emery conceded 0.81 goals per game, falling short of the impressive 0.73 under Blanc's stewardship.

Blanc's teams were less of an attacking force, though, averaging 2.26 goals per game in all competitions, while under Ancelotti that figure was 1.99.

Mauricio Pochettino has the personality and expertise to sweep in and make a difference at Paris Saint-Germain, according to a former Argentina team-mate.

It appears a matter of time before Pochettino is announced as the new head coach of the French champions.

Thomas Tuchel has reportedly already been sacked by the club, who have yet to comment on the matter, with former Tottenham boss Pochettino expected to take over.

PSG sit third in Ligue 1 this season after losing four of their 17 matches, but a 4-0 thrashing of Strasbourg on Wednesday has left them only one point behind Lyon and Lille.

Juan Pablo Sorin, who like Pochettino had a playing stint with PSG, says the incoming head coach has exactly the right profile for the job.

Sorin wrote on Twitter: "Pochettino to @PSG_inside? Hopefully!

"Feeling of genuine belonging, very good working with those under him, clear playing style, personality, human relationship with players ... the dream, of course, of [winning] the @ChampionsLeague which was so close this year."

PSG were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich in the delayed Champions League final, which took place in August, but they swept to a domestic treble under Tuchel's leadership last term.

They also have reached the last 16 of the Champions League this season and will face Barcelona for a place in the quarter-finals.

That would be a major early test for Pochettino, particularly given he is a former player and coach of Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol.

He led Tottenham to the 2019 Champions League final, where the north London side were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool.

The Parisians have never won the Champions League, and their Qatari owners are keen to secure the trophy that would confirm the club's place at Europe's top table.

Sorin, who joined PSG in 2003, just as Pochettino was leaving to join Bordeaux, played alongside his countryman in the Argentina national team at the 2002 World Cup.

The apparent move to bring in Pochettino saw praise for the coach come from former Tottenham striker Gary Lineker.

Lineker tweeted: "Mauricio Pochettino is being lined up by @PSG_English. A terrific coach whose only minus is the lack of winning trophies...well that’s about to change."

Thomas Tuchel is "sad and angry" that his achievements as Paris Saint-Germain boss are often played down.

The German coach has won six trophies during his two full seasons at the Parc des Princes, including the Ligue 1 title in back-to-back campaigns.

PSG completed a clean sweep of domestic honours last season and reached their first Champions League final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich in a tight contest.

Tuchel has regularly had his job called into question, though, particularly this campaign following an underwhelming start to their latest Ligue 1 title defence.

But Tuchel has defended his record in the French capital and suggested too much is being asked of him.

"We were one game from winning the Champions League," he told SPORT1. "We never had the feeling we had convinced people and that they recognised our achievement. It sometimes makes you a little sad and angry.

"There are definitely extreme expectations here. You get the feeling the appreciation for what we do, particularly in the league, is not there as it is at, say, Bayern Munich.

"They always say, 'They have [Angel] Di Maria, [Kylian] Mbappe, Neymar. Of course they win against Bordeaux - that's not an achievement.'

"And with that there is no appreciation for our discipline, sustained play, the intensity of our play.

"It's a shame for the players because very serious team performances can be completely wiped out."

Tuchel's position as PSG head coach appears to be safe again after recovering to advance through a tricky Champions League group and into the knockout stages.

The French champions finished ahead of RB Leipzig, Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir to set up a last-16 tie with fellow heavyweights Barcelona.

"We know how difficult it was to win that group," Tuchel said. "You sometimes have to celebrate that with the team in order not to get bitter.

"We do our best every day with the best possible energy. Resistance makes you stronger during your career because you have to learn to deal with these things. If everything is always good, you won't get any better.

"You cannot make yourself dependent on what others think. You have to remain yourself, then you learn to go again."

Tuchel arrived at PSG in May 2018, a year after departing Borussia Dortmund, and has worked with Mbappe and Neymar for the past two and a half years.

The pair have played a key part in the club's recent success but Tuchel admitted it can be difficult to keep players of their ilk happy.

"Sometimes it's very easy, sometimes it's a big challenge," he said. "At a club like PSG there are many influences. That's why it can be very challenging to keep all the guys happy.

"Honestly, in the first six months here it felt like I was more of a sports politician or sports minister than a coach."

Following spells with German and French giants Dortmund and PSG, Tuchel hinted he will consider coaching a smaller club in the future.

"I don't know whether it has to be higher, higher, higher," he said. "I just like football. In a club like this, it's not always just about the football.

"Sometimes I make a substitution and it's a topic for two weeks. I think to myself, 'I just want to coach.'

"I know why I became a coach. I can find what I'm after anywhere there is half a space for me to train and a DVD player for me to make videos.

"But when you hear the Champions League anthem, you see things in training that simply inspire you because there's so much quality, then you become addicted.

"At heart I love the game and can find that satisfaction in many ways as a coach."

It may reach a point where Lionel Messi is going to need an encyclopedia to record his ever-growing list of achievements.

The Barcelona great's latest benchmark came as a result of his goal in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Real Valladolid in LaLiga.

That strike was Messi's 644th in all competitions for Barcelona, the most scored by any player for a single team.

He surpassed the previous record held by Brazil legend Pele, who netted 643 for Santos and enjoyed his most prolific year in 1958 when he scored an astonishing 66 goals.

To commemorate such an impressive achievement, we took a look at some of Messi's most impressive numbers with the help of Opta data.


A CLASS OF HIS OWN

In a little over 16 years in Barca's first team, Messi has raced streets ahead of the competition to become the club's all-time leading goalscorer with a whopping 644 in total. Second on that list is Cesar Rodriguez with 232 goals.

Of Messi's haul, 451 goals have come in LaLiga, which means he also has the most in the history of Spain's top flight. Messi has 118 in the Champions League, 53 in the Copa del Rey, 14 in the Supercopa, three in the UEFA Super Cup and five in the Club World Cup.

His first Barcelona goal came against Albacete on May 1, 2005, with fellow superstar Ronaldinho setting him up.

The Argentina great enjoyed his most prolific campaign in the 2011-12 campaign, when he scored 73 goals across all competitions for Barcelona. There were an eye-watering 79 across the calendar year in 2012.

LOVE FOR PEP, TITO AND SEVILLA

It should come as little surprise that some of Messi's best returns in a Barca jersey came when playing in the golden era of Pep Guardiola.

In total, Messi had 211 goals and 79 assists in 219 games played under the now-Manchester City manager – an average of 0.96 goals per game.

He also excelled under Luis Enrique, winning the second of his career trebles. There were 153 goals, 66 assists and a goals-per-game ratio of 0.97 in that period.

But it was actually Tito Vilanova for whom Messi returned the best goals per game, a mind-boggling 1.2, having scored 60 in 50 appearances.

Many teams have conceded to Messi but none have picked the ball out of the net on more occasions against the Argentina great than Sevilla, who have done so 37 times.

Atletico Madrid are not far behind on 32, while Valencia have conceded 29 times to Messi and fierce rivals Real Madrid have done so on 26 occasions – making him the highest scorer in Clasico history.


LUCKLESS ALVES, SUAREZ AFFINITY AND GLORY AT THE BERNABEU

Not many goalkeepers can say they have got the better of Messi, and Diego Alves in particular has not enjoyed encounters against the mercurial forward.

Messi scored past the former Valencia stopper on 21 occasions, with Gorka Iraizoz next on the list - having shipped 18 to the Argentina captain. Iker Casillas and Andres Fernandez have been beaten 17 times.

At Barca, Messi has played alongside some of the best players of his, or indeed any, generation.

But no player has assisted Messi more than Luis Suarez, who has now left Barca for Atleti, with the Uruguay star setting up his former team-mate to score on 47 occasions.

Dani Alves ranks second on 42 assists for Messi, with Andres Iniesta and Xavi laying on 37 and 31 goals respectively.

Camp Nou is of course the venue where Messi has scored the majority of his goals, but the Santiago Bernabeu is next highest, with the 33-year-old having celebrated 15 strikes there.

The Riazor is where Messi has his best goals-per-game ratio at 1.625, scoring 13 times in eight games played at the home of Deportivo La Coruna.

Lionel Messi reminisced on breaking Pele's record as the Barcelona superstar insisted his latest achievement exceeded his wildest dreams.

Messi set a new one-club goals record after netting for the 644th time – the Barca captain surpassing Pele's haul in Tuesday's 3-0 LaLiga victory at Real Valladolid.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, who matched Pele against Valencia on Saturday, scored his 451st LaLiga goal as Barca eased past Valladolid.

Messi used social media to react to the historic feat after Pele had tallied 643 goals in an 18-year career at Brazilian club Santos.

"When I started playing football, I never thought I would break any records," Messi wrote on Instagram. "And even less the one that I achieved today that @pele had...

"I can only thank everyone who helped me over the years, my team-mates, my family, my friends and everyone who supports me every day. Hug!!"

Messi's 644 goals have come across 17 seasons and 749 games for Barca, where the 33-year-old debuted in 2004.

His effort against Valencia made Messi the first player to reach the 450 milestone for a single club in any of Europe's top five leagues.

Lionel Messi has set a new one-club goals record after netting for the 644th time as a Barcelona player, surpassing Pele's haul.

Messi matched the total of 643 goals that Brazil legend Pele – one of the greatest players to grace the game – racked up in an 18-year career at Santos.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner headed in his record-equalling goal against Valencia on Saturday and surpassed Pele's tally on Tuesday.

Having created the opener with a cross for Clement Lenglet and played a crucial role in Barca's second against Real Valladolid, Messi swept home after latching onto Pedri's clever flick in the 65th minute to make it 3-0.

As well as taking him past Pele, it was also Messi's 451st goal in LaLiga.

His effort against Valencia made the 33-year-old the first player to reach the 450 milestone for a single club in any of Europe's top five leagues.

Pele congratulated Lionel Messi on equalling his one-club goals haul and said he admired the Barcelona star.

Messi scored his 643rd goal for Barca during Saturday's 2-2 draw at home to Valencia in LaLiga.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner matched Pele's haul of 643 goals in just 656 matches for Santos between 1956 and 1974.

Pele, regarded by many as the best to ever play the game, posted a tribute to Messi on Instagram.

"When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path," the Brazil great wrote.

"Like you, I know what it's like to love wearing the same shirt every day. Like you, I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home.

"Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all, congratulations on your beautiful career at Barcelona. Stories like ours, of loving the same club for so long, unfortunately will be increasingly rare in football.

"I admire you very much, @leomessi."

Having initially seen a penalty saved by Jaume Domenech, Messi got his milestone goal when he met a cross from the left and nodded home from point-blank range.

Messi's headed goal was his first for Barcelona in all competitions since March 2017, while he missed a spot-kick for the club for the first time since February last year.

Remarkably, his latest goal was also his 450th in LaLiga, making him the first player to reach that figure for a single club in any of Europe's top five leagues.

Juventus veteran Gianluigi Buffon is still haunted by Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League defeat to Manchester United in 2018-19.

United recorded a famous comeback in their Champions League last-16 tie in March last year, winning 3-1 at Parc des Princes to progress on away goals.

PSG had taken control of the tie with a 2-0 first-leg victory at Old Trafford and were expected to progress comfortably, particularly given the Red Devils were missing nine senior players through injury and Paul Pogba due to suspension.

United took the lead after 111 seconds through Romelu Lukaku and, after Juan Bernat equalised, Lukaku made it 2-1 when goalkeeper Buffon parried a Marcus Rashford shot into his path.

Rashford proved the match-winner in the 94th minute, converting a penalty past Buffon after Presnel Kimpembe had been punished for handball.

It was the first time in 107 attempts that a team had lost the first leg of a Champions League or European Cup tie at home by 2-0 or more only to progress to the next round.

For Buffon, who has never won the competition in his long and glittering career, it was a defeat he has struggled to forget.

"It's a game I think about at least three or four times a week. It brings up a lot of regrets," he told L'Equipe.

"I was sure that we would reach the final that season. In Manchester, we won a big game with a great show of force. And unfortunately, I blame myself for an incredible mistake. A mistake that, with the experience I have, I should not have made.

"We thought it was a formality and I got carried away. It was as if the match was of little value because we had already won 2-0 in the first leg and they, the poor guys, had two players available and nine youngsters."

PSG got some measure of revenge on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side this season.

Although they lost 2-1 at home to United, they claimed a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford that helped them finish top of Group H, as Solskjaer's men dropped into the Europa League.

Having watched them reach the final last term, Buffon, now back with Juventus, thinks PSG are well equipped to win the tournament.

"PSG lack nothing. They are a great team that can win against anyone. They are one of the few teams that can beat all their opponents," said the 42-year-old.

"If there was a weakness, it was taking some things for granted. But with the arrival of [sporting director] Leonardo, who has an Italian culture, this type of risk has disappeared."

Hansi Flick admitted he was "a little disappointed" to miss out on The Best FIFA Men's Coach award after Bayern Munich's stunning run of trophy success.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp edged out Flick to take the award on Thursday, after leading the Reds to a first English league title in 30 years.

Flick, who took over in mid-season last term when Niko Kovac left a flagging Bayern, guided the German giants to a treble consisting of Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League titles.

Bayern's achievements were reflected in Bayern's Robert Lewandowski winning the top player award and Manuel Neuer being named best goalkeeper in the world.

Flick would have been proud to join them as a winner but said: "We always take this like sportsmen. 'Kloppo' for sure deserved this title as well with his staff. The same as my staff would have deserved it."

Klopp admitted he had been surprised to pip his fellow German to the award, albeit grateful to secure another award, while Lewandowski said Bayern's players regarded Flick as the pick of the nominees.

Flick said: "Life goes on. Of course, we were a little disappointed last night, which is normal.

"If you get among the top three, you also want to win. We live in a society of performance, so we also would have liked to win.

"But everything goes on, we have new goals to attain. Now, this is closed. The team has attained exceptional results. With Manu [Neuer] and Robert, we have two of the best players.

"Robert as best footballer and Manu as best goalkeeper, and Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies in the world XI ... Thiago [Alcantara] as well, although he is with Liverpool now unfortunately.

"So we can say that this has been an exceptional season for us." 

Hansi Flick's only chance to collect The Best FIFA Men's Coach award in future is if Bayern Munich find new competitions to win, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho suggested.

Last season, Flick led Bayern to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, while they have also lifted the UEFA Super Cup and DFL Super Cup in 2020.

So, a few eyebrows were raised when Flick was overlooked for best men's coach at FIFA's annual awards ceremony on Thursday, with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp retaining the prize.

Klopp led Liverpool to a first English top-flight title in 30 years last term, but when addressing the media on Friday admitted his own surprise by saying: "I'm grateful for it, obviously. From the first moment, like everybody else, I was looking at it a bit wide-eyed, like, how did that happen?"

Mourinho, whose Tottenham side were beaten by Liverpool 2-1 on Wednesday, was asked about the decision when previewing Spurs' clash with Leicester City.

"I think the only chance for Flick to win is that Bayern find two or three more new competitions to win it," Mourinho said with a laugh.

"So maybe if he wins seven titles in one season maybe he wins the award, because I believe he only won the Champions League, Bundesliga, Pokal, European Super Cup, German Super Cup - he only won five and the biggest one of all.

"So I think poor Flick the only chance is for Bayern to try and find two or three more trophies to see if he can win it."

Spurs' defeat to Liverpool saw Mourinho's side surrender top spot in the Premier League to the Reds, who they now trail by three points.

Many pundits have noted Tottenham's propensity to sit deep and play on the counter-attack this season, particularly in bigger matches.

Against Liverpool, Spurs had just 24.2 per cent possession, had 254 passes to Liverpool's 813 and had a pass accuracy of just 61.4 per cent.

The numbers were not dissimilar when Spurs triumphed 2-0 against Arsenal in the north London derby on December 6. On that occasion they had 30.2 per cent possession, 288 passes and 67.4 per cent passing accuracy.

Indeed, Spurs' average of 48.01 per cent possession is only 12th in the league this season, while they rank in the same spot for passing accuracy (80.39).

Mourinho, though, is mainly interested in one statistic, which is how many goals a team scores.

"You love the words possession and you love the stats," he told reporters.

"What tells me [about a team] is the number of goals you score and the number of chances that you create, so you can have less time with the ball but score more goals than your opponents, create better chances but for some reason not score in relation to this.

"This for me is the fundamental thing. In relation to the way we try to play, sometimes it's our decision, our game plan, other times it's our opponent that creates us this situation. 

"For example against Crystal Palace [a 1-1 draw] in the first 20 or 25 minutes of the second half it's not we tried to play that way, in fact we did exactly the opposite of what was the game plan. 

"Sometimes the game goes in a direction where the responsibility is the opponent, and in these situations I'm always supportive of my players when the opponent in some moments is just better than you and forces you to play in a way you don't want to do it."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expressed his shock at beating Bayern Munich counterpart Hansi Flick to The Best FIFA Men's Coach award.

Flick was considered the favourite for the gong ahead of Thursday's ceremony after guiding Bayern to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble last term.

But Klopp, who oversaw the Reds' Premier League title success in 2019-20, ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight championship, beat his compatriot to take the prize for a second successive year. Leeds United's Marcelo Bielsa came third.

The Liverpool boss accepted he was probably fortunate to see off competition from Flick.

"I'm grateful for it, obviously," he told reporters on Friday. "From the first moment, like everybody else, I was looking at it a bit wide-eyed, like, how did that happen?

"I didn't expect it, not at all, I thought Hansi Flick won pretty much everything in the last year and that that would be the case.

"I wanted to be there, to show respect, because last year in Milan when it was a really nice event – Mauricio Pochettino was there as well – and I thought that night that, if I would be nominated again, I would show up even if I have no chance to win it.

"Now with four different categories, more managers and players voted for me. The media and fans, more for Hansi Flick which I get completely – in the end it's not my choice.

"I'm happy for it, it's a special thing for my coaches and me, I saw them already, they are buzzing. If you would have asked me, 'are you the world's best coach?' I would have said no.

"If you would ask me, 'do you have the world's best coaches around you?' I would have said yes.

"We'll take an award like this, it's all good, there's more important things in the world but it's a nice one."

Earlier on Thursday, the Premier League announced clubs had voted to not increase the number of substitutions allowed per team in each game from three to five, despite the sport's lawmakers the International Football Association Board (IFAB) previously agreeing an extension to the rule.

Klopp had been arguably the most vocal manager in favour of increasing substitution allowance and he pointed the finger at the 10 clubs who opted against backing what he felt was an essential change for player welfare.

The Premier League did take up the option of increasing the numbers of substitutes available in a squad to nine from seven, though Klopp dismissed the importance of such a move.

"I think it's two different decisions, not a compromise," he added. "Come on, I don't want to create headlines, everybody knows my opinion about the case – you have to ask other people.

"There are 10 clubs that voted against it, everybody knows the 10 clubs. It was not about the competition, not about advantages, it was only about player welfare. They voted against it.

"Pretty much only them in Europe – maybe the world – voted against it.

"I don't know the percentage of leagues who have now five subs, I don't know exactly, but there must be a good reason for it.

"In all these leagues there is competition, every club wants to win the league, every club wants to stay in the league, but here is the only league that doesn't have it – the Championship decided differently. It's not for me to give an answer, you'll have to ask the other [teams]."

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