Thomas Tuchel has told misfiring Chelsea forward Timo Werner that it is no time to cry over his form in front of goal.

Werner has struggled to replicate the form that saw him score 28 goals in 34 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig last season since joining the Blues in a £47.5million deal.

The Germany international scored the only goal in a vital 1-0 win at West Ham on Saturday – his sixth in 31 Premier League outings.

However, his demons in front of goal returned during Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League semi-final draw at Real Madrid as he volleyed a glorious close-range opportunity too close to Thibaut Courtois.

Werner's four shots were more than any of his Chelsea team-mates, with two on target and one blocked before he was withdrawn in favour of compatriot Kai Havertz midway through the second-half.

"He missed a big one at West Ham, now he missed another big one here," Tuchel told a news conference after Karim Benzema's well-taken volley cancelled out Christian Pulisic's 14th-minute opener.

"That does not help, but it also does not help to cry about it or to regret it all the time.

"It's like this. There are millions of people who have harder things to deal with than chances that you miss.

"This is the good thing about sports. Nobody cares tomorrow. Today we were sad, we were angry in the moment.

"This is normal. He is angry, he is maybe disappointed. Tomorrow he has a free day and then the next day he has to put his chin up."

Werner has scored six non-penalty goals for Chelsea across the Premier League and Champions League, with his shots in those competitions adding up to an expected goals (xG) figure of 13.4 – underlining his woes.

However, the 25-year-old's selfless running and work rate has been valuable to Tuchel since he succeeded Frank Lampard in January.

Although he did not create any chances for his colleague in the Spanish capital, Werner has supplied eight assists amid his Premier League and Champions League efforts this term.

"He is a professional guy, he is a top guy. He works hard, he is in the positions and from there on we go," Tuchel added.

"We will never stop pushing, we will never stop believing. I have the feeling that everybody accepts the situation as it is.

"As a striker it is easy – you score the next game and nobody speaks."

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane praised Karim Benzema but insisted he is not surprised by the star forward following his goalscoring performance as Los Blancos battled to a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals.

Benzema rescued Madrid on Tuesday – the Frenchman cancelling out Christian Pulisic's 14th-minute opener just before the half-hour mark in the opening leg of the semi-final tie in the Spanish capital.

Madrid's Benzema once again showcased his importance as he drew level with Raul as the joint-fourth leading scorer in Champions League history after netting his 71st goal.

Only Lionel Messi (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (35) have scored against more different opponents in the Champions League than Benzema (33, level with Raul).

Benzema, meanwhile, has scored six goals in this season's Champions League. In only one of his 16 seasons in the competition has he scored more (seven in 2011-12).

"Karim is amazing and I am happy for him, but I am not surprised for what he is doing every game," Zidane told reporters.

"It is the same with all of my players. They are the most important. They have done again a great effort tonight and keeping the faith in what we are doing.

"There are difficulties, of course, because we have an amazing team in front of us and they are Champions League semi-finals. We have suffered.

"But I am very happy for all of the players, because we are alive. We know we have to go to London and score goals in order to win the game."

Los Blancos were unable to find a winner in a cagier second half. They have faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

Benzema's goal was Madrid's solitary shot on target against Chelsea. Only versus Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 – when they had none – have they had fewer in a Champions League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, this was the only game in which Madrid have not scored at least two goals at home this season in the Champions League, though they have still scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

"We were much better in the second 45 minutes. We were much more organised. They started strongly and quickly, but I think it's a fair result," said Zidane.

"We wanted to press high one on one, but when you don't carry it out well, things are tough. Once we scored, we were better and controlled play a lot more.

"We're alive and we're going to the second leg with the idea of winning. In general, we're happy with tonight."

Madrid were without captain Sergio Ramos due to a calf injury but he could return for the second leg in London, with Zidane adding: "I wish he could be with us. I cannot tell you now.

"Sergio has not had any training with the group, so we are waiting for him. We wish he could be as soon as possible.

"All the players, Sergio, and the rest. Lucas [Vazquez] is a bit more complicated due to his injury, but also Ferland [Mendy], Fede [Valverde]. All of them. I want all of my players with me, sure."

Raphael Varane said Chelsea's pressing game proved problematic for Real Madrid, though he remains optimistic about his club's Champions League chances.

Karim Benzema rescued Madrid on Tuesday as Los Blancos rallied from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Chelsea in the opening leg of the semi-final tie in the Spanish capital.

Madrid made a sluggish start at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea led after 14 minutes thanks to Christian Pulisic, though Benzema restored parity 15 minutes later.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid were unable to find a winner in a cagier second half and the Spanish powerhouse have now faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

Reflecting on the match, Varane – who has been linked with a move to Los Blancos' Tuesday opponents – told Movistar: "I think we saw two games between the first half and the second.

"They started well with a lot of intensity and they pressed us well, and they broke our first line of the press with some very vertical play. With Karim's goal we got into the game and the second half was a lot better.

"We couldn't break their lines with our passing. Their press was annoying for us and we'll need to learn from the start of the game for the second leg."

Benzema once again showcased his importance to Madrid – the Frenchman drawing level with Raul as the joint-fourth leading scorer in Champions League history after netting his 71st goal.

Only Lionel Messi (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (35) have scored against more different opponents in the Champions League than Benzema (33, level Raul).

Benzema, meanwhile, has scored six goals in this season's Champions League. In only one of his 16 seasons in the competition has he scored more (seven in 2011-12).

"In a game like this, Benzema makes the difference – he changed the dynamic of the game. We know his quality and he helps us a lot," Varane said.

"At this stage of the competition, our fitness will be important physically and also mentally. We need to go out to win the return leg."

Benzema's goal was Madrid's solitary shot on target against Chelsea. Only versus Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 - when they had none - have they had fewer in a  Champions League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, this was the only game in which Madrid have not scored at least two goals at home this season in Champions League. Still, they are the team who have scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

"We came in with a plan to do things and we couldn't do it," Marcelo told Movistar. "But when we started to do what we wanted, it was totally different.

"They run a lot, we knew it could happen, but there is another game as well. We know what we have to. It will be different at Stamford Bridge.

"We do not choose the rhythm of the game, we have to adapt to what there is. It was a difficult game, as they all are, but we are fine, we are calm because we are going to play a good game there [at Chelsea]."

"We left with our heads high. Now we are going to rest and see what we will have to do there, but it will surely change."

Thomas Tuchel was left frustrated by Chelsea's finishing in Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League semi-final first-leg draw with Real Madrid, adamant they would have been deserved winners had they shown more "composure and precision".

Chelsea took the lead in Madrid thanks to Christian Pulisic's fine individual work in the 14th minute, though they should have already been in front.

Just a few moments earlier, Timo Werner latched on to a Pulisic header across goal but shot at Thibaut Courtois from close range when he seemed destined to score.

The German also missed a decent chance late in the first half, with Karim Benzema having equalised in the interim period.

But that Benzema strike was Madrid's only shot on target, the first time since at least 2003-04 that Los Blancos have had so few in a home Champions League match.

Madrid have progressed from their two previous Champions League knockout ties with English opposition when drawing the first leg at home, though, and Tuchel rued his side's inability to finish them off at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

"We started very well, very aggressive with courage and quality. We deserved to win the first half," he told BT Sport. "We had lots of chances and half-chances where we missed precision with the last ball.

"Unfortunately they scored from a set piece – nothing else normally for us to defend, we didn't allow any chances – so it was a disappointing result at half-time.

"It was important that we stayed calm, didn't lose confidence and we fought back into the game.

"I felt the second half was a tactical game and the speed and intensity dropped. You could feel that we were a bit tired with only two days between two away games. We suffered today from that.

"If we had one more day to recover we would have had a big chance to keep the intensity up and maybe hurt Madrid also in the second half. This was not possible and we have to live with 1-1."

Tuchel felt their initial one-goal lead was more than justified and reiterated his opinion Madrid were fortunate to be level at the interval.

The German, who is the only Champions League coach to face Madrid five times without losing, then allowed a little frustration at his team's finishing to come to light.

"It was well deserved [Pulisic's goal] and, like I said, we should have won the first half," he continued.

"We should have scored a minimum one more goal. The chances were there, the half-chances were there, we had many ball wins, good control, good attacks. We were very confident, looked very strong.

"The goal came more or less out of nothing but that can always happen when you are faced with individual quality from Real Madrid.

"A bit more composure and precision in front of goal and we could have won the first half and been a deserved winner. It's not like this, so we live with 1-1 and try to win the next game."

The two teams meet again at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday, with Tuchel aiming to reach a second successive Champions League final having lost in last season's showpiece with Paris Saint-Germain.

Eden Hazard is happy to keep progressing "step by step" after playing 24 minutes for Real Madrid against his Chelsea "friends" in the Champions League.

Hazard started from the bench for Madrid in Tuesday's home first leg of their semi-final tie, which ended 1-1.

The winger had only returned from more than a month out against Real Betis at the weekend, finally putting his latest injury setback behind him.

A series of issues have meant the meeting with former club Chelsea saw Hazard make just his 38th Madrid appearance since signing in 2019.

Like much of his career in Spain, it was a largely forgettable cameo, having only 12 touches and failing to attempt or create a shot.

But Hazard was simply happy to be back involved, explaining: "I just want to go step by step.

"Of course I want to play, I want to be on the pitch, but the last game I played 15 minutes, today I played a bit more.

"We have a couple of big games to play until the end of the season, so I just want to be ready for them.

"Now I feel better, the condition's better and the body's better, so I'm just happy that I can play again."

Hazard has so far been involved in only nine Madrid goals, yet he scored 110 times and provided 81 assists in seven years with Chelsea to earn his move.

"It's always good to play against friends," he added. "I have a couple of friends over there.

"But now I'm a Real Madrid player, so I just want to win. It doesn't matter if it's Chelsea against us or another team, I just want to win.

"But it's always good to see some good faces."

Hazard will hope to be able to use his experience of Stamford Bridge to Madrid's advantage in next week's return leg.

Madrid have not beaten Chelsea in four meetings but may now require a victory to advance after conceding an away goal to Christian Pulisic.

Karim Benzema replied for Los Blancos long before Hazard's introduction with his team's sole shot on target.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta rued missed chances in the first leg of their 1-1 Champions League semi-final draw against Real Madrid.

Thomas Tuchel's men dominated the opening exchanges at Valdebebas, with Christian Pulisic's splendidly taken goal giving them a 14th-minute lead.

But the Premier League side arguably let the 13-time European champions off the hook, with Timo Werner once again the chief culprit when it came to being wasteful in front of goal.

Karim Benzema gave the Germany international and his Chelsea team-mates a lesson in clinical finishing when he swivelled to volley a stunning equaliser against the run of play before the half hour. That remained Madrid's only attempt on target over the course of the 90 minutes.

"I think we started really well in the first 20 or 25 minutes. We got the goal and could have got more goals," Azpilicueta told BT Sport.

"They came back from a set play. After that, some moments we controlled and others we suffered.

"It is just the first half, we knew against Real Madrid it would be tough.

"We started with courage, we had to perform at our best level. The semi-final of a Champions League asks you to play your best. We missed that little last pass where we could choose the best option.

"I think in the overall analysis we performed well."

Pulisic was electrifying during the opening exchanges and Azpilicueta marvelled at the 22-year-old's coolness under pressure after he rounded Thibaut Courtois and lined up an unerring finish as Madrid defenders scampered back towards their own goal line.

"It was a great finish, great composure. When he was in front of the goal he took the best decision," he added.

"With and without the ball he makes difficult runs to defend.

"He is a young player, growing and improving. I'm very pleased with his goal. He is a very important player for the team."

Although Benzema's athleticism and clever movement caught the eye, Azpilicueta was frustrated to see Casemiro and Eder Militao win headers in the Chelsea box to make the equaliser possible.

"It was a set play, they win two headers in the box," he lamented.

"He scored a great goal, he is a very good striker.

"He dropped, he got the ball for the goal. We have to be aware. Wednesday is a decisive game and we have to be ready for it."

Karim Benzema spared Real Madrid but Christian Pulisic's away goal gives Chelsea the advantage after their Champions League semi-final first leg ended 1-1 at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

Zinedine Zidane's side were guilty of a sluggish start in Valdebebas and, although they managed to restore parity, rarely did Los Blancos look likely to take a win to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were good value for their 14th-minute lead as Pulisic added the finish to fine individual work, though Benzema – arguably Madrid's only threatening player in the match – netted to draw level with Raul as the joint-fourth leading scorer in the Champions League with 71.

A significantly cagier second period followed and Madrid were even less of a danger to Edouard Mendy's goal, while Chelsea largely seemed content to settle for their away-goal advantage.

Madrid looked to be in for a long night amid a rocky start that almost saw them fall behind after just 10 minutes, as Timo Werner inexplicably shot straight at Thibaut Courtois from close range.

The visitors did not have to wait much longer for another chance, however, and Pulisic took full advantage as he raced on to Antonio Rudiger's long pass, coolly evaded Courtois and then shot between two defenders on the line.

But a few moments after hitting the post from distance, Benzema brought Madrid level in the 29th minute with an emphatic volley roughly six yards from goal following a lovely first touch with his head.

The tempo of the match changed considerably in the second period, however, with neither side much of a threat to the opposing goal.

A triple change by Chelsea just past the hour seemed to increase their control over Madrid, who themselves brought on former Stamford Bridge favourite Eden Hazard.

The final chance fell to Madrid in the 89th minute but Varane's deflected header went just wide, meaning Zidane's men will need to score in London next week.

Pep Guardiola refused to recognise the Champions League as a greater priority for his Manchester City side as they also close on the Premier League title.

City have never won Europe's premier club competition and are playing in the semi-finals for just the second time.

They face Paris Saint-Germain in France on Wednesday and then host the Ligue 1 giants, last year's beaten finalists, next Tuesday.

Between those two matches, City could win the Premier League. If they defeat Crystal Palace and defending champions Liverpool win at Manchester United, Guardiola's men will reclaim that crown.

While acknowledging his club have been building towards a Champions League challenge over the past decade, Guardiola was keen to talk up City's continued domestic success.

They claimed silverware in the EFL Cup final on Sunday, a competition they have won in four consecutive campaigns.

"It's the second time we are there [in the Champions League semis]; of course we are not the elite in this competition, that's for sure, but we want to be there," said Guardiola, reaching this stage for a record-equalling eighth time.

"When the owners took over a decade ago they took steps to improve in England first of all, in the Premier League, in the cups, then this.

"The owners and managers and staff got this position right now. Every time we play this competition and we are lucky to live right now where we are.

"Right now I'm incredibly happy to travel with this club to Paris to be ourselves and play this semi-final with the target to win the game.

"And after, go to Crystal Palace to win one of the two games to win the Premier League, the most important competition. The Champions League is the nicest one but the most important is the Premier League.

"After, next Tuesday in Manchester, we play Paris to try to reach the final."

City are looking for a 10th Champions League win of the season, a mark never previously reached by an English club in the competition's current format.

Only Real Madrid in 2011-12 have previously had 10 victories in a campaign without lifting the title.

Guardiola will not get complacent and expects a tough test against PSG, who are bidding to become the ninth European Cup/Champions League team to reach back-to-back finals, but he is also determined City will enjoy the experience.

"We know we will suffer. I know the weapons they have up front," he said. "Everyone who loves football knows the quality they have.

"But we're in the Champions League semi-finals, what can you expect? PSG is not just two players, they are many situations. We have to know them and try to attack them.

"I will not play 90 minutes thinking how good this player is, just how to beat them. I learned from Johan Cruyff: you have to enjoy the game, enjoy the responsibility.

"Top players enjoy situations because they enjoy responsibility - that's why the greatest players win this competition, because they play it like a friendly game.

"The mythical sentence [from Cruyff] before the final in 1992 in Wembley was to go out and enjoy.

"I will not tell the players that - I'm no Cruyff - but enjoy the travel, the coffee in their airport, the hotel, watching the other game tonight, the walk, the training.

"We're privileged to be one of the best four teams in Europe this season. It's what I want to see in my players. That's why Cruyff had this idea.

"Once we arrive in the final, it's not to be worried or concerned in case we lose. If we lose, we try again next season.

"Once you arrive in these stages, you're nervous because you think of the consequences, not the pleasure of trying to beat them.

"This is the mindset of the greatest players in all the sports: we did it already, we try to do it the next one."

Winger Riyad Mahrez was speaking alongside Guardiola and described last season's quarter-final defeat to Lyon as "the biggest disappointment in my career".

But he and his City team-mates are not content simply making the last four.

Paris-born Mahrez said: "You have to show that you deserve to be here and deserve to be in the final. That's what we have to try to do tomorrow."

He added: "The Champions League is the thing we're missing. I don't think anyone in our team has won it before. In Europe, it's the best thing you can play for and win.

"If we can try to first go in the final, then we will see. The most important thing is tomorrow. Tomorrow we have to make a good game and try to go through."

Pep Guardiola says the task of trying to stop Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is enough to keep him awake at night.

Manchester City are away to PSG in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday, neither side having won the famous trophy before.

Guardiola had left Barcelona by the time Neymar arrived at Camp Nou in 2013, the forward eventually forming a historic front three with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Such is the quality of Neymar, the City boss feels his former club would have won many more Champions League crowns had the Brazil talisman not moved to PSG in 2017.

Guardiola feels there is only so much that can be done against world-class opponents like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and wants City to impose themselves on the game rather than set out just to stop PSG.

"Always unbelievable, the quality of these players they have," Guardiola said. "Defensive strategies [to stop them] don’t work. They are too good.

"I try to sleep well last night and I slept when I was not thinking about their players like that!

"They are incredible players, the quality they have, the way they play. We will try and stop them by defending together as a team and playing well as a team.

"We are going to concede counter-attacks, they have a lot of weapons.

"We will have to adjust something of course when you play against these players like we did against Tottenham, like we will against Wilfried Zaha [of Crystal Palace] in the next game.

"But at the same time, it wouldn't make any sense to not be who we are when we are arriving on this stage for just the second time in our history.

"I am pretty sure we will try to be ourselves and get the result we will need for the second leg. The best balance is to have the ball. If you have the ball all the time, the balance is there.

"We will concede counter-attacks, it's impossible [not to]. If you defend so deep, Neymar, Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti, Marquinhos, they have a lot of weapons.

"They are used to playing teams who defend 90 minutes and they find a way. That is not the best way to defend against the team who have everything, it's best to impose your game like we have for five years."

Neymar has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances.

The forward has also had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals, four assists).

Guardiola was in awe of Neymar from the first time he saw him playing for Santos.

The former Barca and Bayern Munich boss added: "I remember when I showed clips of Santos, I remember I said, 'This is the king of Santos', and the players' mouths were open saying, 'Oh my god, what a player'.

"He's a joy to watch as a spectator, the personality, he has Brazil on his shoulders.

"I'm sure if Neymar had a longer stay in Barcelona they would win two or three Champions Leagues more. Those three were unstoppable, the best three I saw up front in my life.

"He decided to go to Paris, not a bad decision, a nice city and nice club. I want him to have stability, no injuries. I'm a big admirer because he helped to make football better. It's a pleasure to play a semi final against PSG."

Asked about Mbappe, Guardiola replied: "A young player, he will have the world of football ahead of him.

"Already a French champion, World Cup. Quite similar to Erling Haaland in terms of, 'Wow', how many goals, pace.

"Looks like a nice guy. Benjamin Mendy is his friend, says he's a nice guy. We're going to try to beat them, all of them."

Guardiola was visibly enthused on the pitch on Sunday after leading City to a fourth consecutive EFL Cup triumph with a 1-0 win in the final against Tottenham.

"Every time you get older you realise it's difficult to win titles," he explained.

"If you start the next season telling me I have to win one title, it doesn't matter which one, I say it's so difficult to do.

"The Carabao isn't the most important one but it is so nice to win it."

PSG, who were managed by Thomas Tuchel when they lost last year's Champions League final to Bayern Munich, are winless in their previous three matches with City in European competition (D2 L1).

City are playing in only the fourth semi-final in their European history after the Cup Winners' Cup in 1969-70 and 1970-71, and the 2015-16 Champions League.

Ahead of the tie, PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino described City as "one of the greatest teams in the world" and said he believes they are led by the best coach in the game in Guardiola.

Neymar, meanwhile, insists he feels "much better" at PSG than he did previously and has hit back at critics who accused him of lacking professionalism.

PSG are looking to become the the ninth side to reach back-to-back finals, but Guardiola has beaten Pochettino in 10 of their previous 18 meetings, with five draws and only three defeats.

Neymar insists he feels "much better" at Paris Saint-Germain than he did previously and has hit back at critics who accused him of lacking professionalism.

The Brazil star moved to PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a fee of €222million, shattering the previous world transfer record.

He struggled to settle in the French capital and was persistently linked with a move back to Spain to either Barca or arch-rivals Real Madrid.

Injury problems at key moments and questions over his level of commitment towards the club added to an air of negativity around Neymar, but that has been largely dispelled in the past 18 months.

The 29-year-old was a star performer as PSG reached the Champions League final last August for the first time, where they lost to Bayern Munich, and he was similarly influential as they knocked out those same opponents in this season's quarter-finals.

It is now more widely expected that Neymar will sign an extension to his PSG contract, which expires next year, as he looks to build something of a legacy at Parc des Princes.

Although he would not discuss a possible new deal, Neymar did state on Tuesday that many things have changed for the better since his arrival four years ago.

"I spoke about this after the last game as well. I don't think I need to say more," he said when asked about his renewal.

"I have got time left on my contract here at PSG. We want to do what is best for everyone. I have already said that I am happy here and I feel much better than in the previous seasons.

"Since I arrived here, the club has improved. The club is more respected. When people talk about PSG now, they know it is among the four, five or six best teams across all the leagues.

"PSG are now getting the respect they deserve. It is our second consecutive year in the Champions Leagues semi-finals and last year, we were runners-up. This year, we are going to do everything to get our hands on the trophy.

"When I joined PSG, I said that our priority was always the Champions League and winning it and being amongst the best. We managed to reach the final last year for the first time in the club's history. Now, we are in the semi-finals.

"That means we have been improving and that is down to the people, the coaching staff and I think we have everything it takes to be champions. We are on the right path. The atmosphere is fantastic here.

"There are certainly aspects where I have improved during my time at PSG. I have also had some difficult moments in terms of settling in, and things that people know about. I think I have improved and things started to get better and better.

"I have always been very hard-working. I have always trained hard and been professional. I have never done anything not professional.

"Despite many people saying otherwise, I have always worked hard and stayed focused and I have been showing that on the pitch. When I am out there, I try to show what I am capable of and help my team."

PSG face Manchester City in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday, a team they have not beaten in their three previous meetings and who have won nine and drawn one of their 10 Champions League matches this season.

"It will certainly be a tough game," said Neymar. "It is the Champions League semi-final and there are no easy tams at this stage. Man City are a top team with real quality, just as Bayern were in the previous round. We are ready for this game and we will do everything to try to get through."

Neymar was a Champions League winner with Barca in 2015, scoring in the final against Juventus, and it was suggested that leading PSG to continental glory could see him stake a serious claim to win the Ballon d'Or this year.

However, Neymar responded: "That is not something I think about. I am focusing on the Champions League because that will make a big difference to my life and my career. If I look back and see that I have three or four Champions Leagues, that would be the most important thing."

Mauricio Pochettino described Manchester City as "one of the greatest teams in the world" led by the best coach in the game ahead of Wednesday's Champions League showdown with Paris Saint-Germain.

The two meet in Paris for the first leg of a mouthwatering semi-final that pits together two clubs who are yet to win the competition, with PSG beaten by Bayern Munich in last season's final.

PSG are winless in three previous matches against City, who are featuring in only their fourth European semi-final.

Asked if the size of the challenge against Guardiola's side was greater than when they gained revenge on Bayern in the quarters, former Tottenham boss Pochettino said: "I think Manchester City are one of the greatest teams in the world, with, for me, the best coach.

"Is it going to be tougher than Bayern? We don't know. There are always a lot of theories, but the most important is the 180 minutes.

"We are calm and we know we need to fight a lot to beat a really great team like Manchester City.

"It is going to be tough, but it is not important to play first at home or away, but you need to perform in the best way. From my experience in the Champions League it doesn't change too much.

"It is not a personal battle, it is Paris St Germain against Manchester City. Pep is one of the best, if not the best, coach in the world. I admire not only his titles but the legacy that he is building in football."

Pochettino enjoyed a victory over City in the last eight of this competition when he was in charge of Spurs, but he insists that will have no bearing over this encounter. 

"There is not really anything I can take from that game," he said. "Different teams, different players, different situations. Manchester City are a different team compared to when I was at Tottenham. So are PSG."

Guardiola will be taking charge of a joint-record eighth Champions League semi-final, which puts him level with Jose Mourinho.

Ominously for Pochettino, Guardiola boats a far superior record in their head-to-head tally, with the Spaniard taking 10 wins and five draws from 18 meetings.

When FIFA announced last year they were set to introduce limits on the number of players teams could send out on loan, unsurprisingly many people's first thoughts turned to Chelsea.

At the time, the Blues had a remarkable 28 players at other clubs, though this was by no means a recent trend; in 2018-19, that figure was 41.

The 'hoarding' of talent might be a solid ploy when looking to stunt the growth of a rival team or generate long-term revenue on Football Manager, but in the real world it was a practice that had long attracted criticism.

While by no means the only club in the world to have lots of young players out on loan, Chelsea have – rightly or wrongly – arguably been the most synonymous with it.

Some feel this has directly contributed to the club's struggles in developing homegrown talent because they have so many players, whereas others point out it offers more players the chance to play first-team football at a higher level than the Under-23s.

Putting aside some of the moral issues, Mason Mount falls into the latter category and proves there is a route to the first team through the fog of war for Chelsea's loan army.

By his own admission Mount needed an extra kick when he was in Chelsea's Under-23s as an 18-year-old, and that led to his temporary switch to the Eredivisie with Vitesse, where he won the club's Player of the Year award.

But it's unlikely even he realised how important his next move would be as he linked up with Chelsea great Frank Lampard.

In at the deep end

Mount made 44 appearances across all competitions for Derby County in 2018-19 as they missed out on promotion in the play-off final, but regardless of that ultimate disappointment it proved a massive year for both he and Lampard.

With Maurizio Sarri departing Stamford Bridge to join Juventus following Europa League success, Lampard was brought back to the club as head coach. Given his status and the trust he placed in young players – and, more pertinently, young players owned by Chelsea – at Derby, Lampard was seen as the ideal candidate to guide the team through a transfer embargo by bringing through homegrown talent.

Whether or not Lampard was a success as Chelsea coach is a discussion for another time, but his faith in Mount was unquestionable, chucking him straight into the team on the first day of the 2019-20 season.

The Blues suffered a rather harsh 4-0 defeat at Manchester United, but Mount didn't look out of his depth in the Premier League.

He clearly earnt the trust of his manager, with Lampard using the midfielder in 37 league matches over the course of the season, more than any other player. Across all competitions, the young Englishman made a whopping 53 appearances, missing just two games all year.

Mount finished his debut season with 12 goal involvements (seven scored, five set up), a figure bettered by only Tammy Abraham (18), Willian (16) and Christian Pulisic (13) in the Chelsea squad.

But that doesn't quite tell the whole story. To say he was consistent throughout the season would be a lie, as after the turn of the year there was a growing sense of frustration regarding his form. Between the start of November and the final day of the season, his three assists amounted to a couple of corner deliveries for Antonio Rudiger to head home, and a free-kick against Arsenal that Bernd Leno made a mess of. Mount's one open-play assist of 2019-20 came on the final day of the season against Wolves.

Some felt Mount was being overworked by Lampard, others put his issues down to being used in a variety of roles.

The 'teacher's pet' tag began to raise its head, with Lampard's almost incessant use of Mount leading to suggestions of preferential treatment.

Getting past this was going to be Mount's Everest.

A star of his own merit

When Thomas Tuchel was hired as Lampard's replacement in January, there wouldn't have been too many particularly worried for Mount's future given he had been a fixture in the team, his 2,130 minutes played across all competitions the most of anyone in the Blues' squad.

But when Mount was dropped for the German's first game in charge, Tuchel's decision certainly made people sit up and take note.

While he explained it away as opting to go with experience, dropping Mount suggested he had to earn his place again.

And it would be fair to say he's risen to the challenge.

"I understood and wanted to get back into the team, so that motivation and that fire that I have inside me came out," Mount said at a news conference last month. "I really tried to push to get back into the team. It's been brilliant."

Since then, he's become more productive almost across the board in the final third under Tuchel than he had been for Lampard in 2020-21.

Seemingly one of the main contributing factors is his role. While Lampard used Mount in numerous positions, Tuchel has largely deployed him further up the pitch in an attempt to get him closer to the opposition's penalty area.

Touch maps show a significant change between the two coaches' usage of the 21-year-old. While Mount's touches per 90 are almost identical under the two managers, Lampard deployed Mount deeper than his German successor, while Tuchel has shown a clear desire to get him on the ball in more advanced areas.

So much of the positive work that Mount does with the ball is not captured in goals and assists, the baseline figures that many would deem the primary indicator of an attacking midfielder's contribution. His link play and overall involvement in Chelsea’s attack can be highlighted by sequences framework.

In the 14 games since Tuchel's arrival, only Bruno Fernandes (91) has been involved in more open play sequences (or 'passages of play') that have resulted in a shot than Mount's 86. This figure translates to 7.6 sequences per 90 minutes, which is a big increase on the 5.6 per 90 he was involved in during Lampard's 18 top-flight games this term.

Not only is Mount involved more heavily in Chelsea's attacking play under Tuchel, but his involvement is generating better quality chances. The expected goals value from these sequences has increased from 0.43 per 90 minutes under Lampard to 0.7 under Tuchel. Simply put, Chelsea are creating greater quality chances with Mount further up the pitch.

Similarly, the England international's six goal-ending sequences in the same period are more than any of his team-mates have contributed to.

Even though he's still without a single open-play assist in 2020-21, it's clear to see that Mount's strong associative talents and ability to play tidily in busier areas of the pitch make him a real asset to Tuchel, who has acted quickly to shift him into a position that seemingly suits him better. He's also proving more decisive, with four of his six Premier League goals coming since January 25 – that's more than any of his team-mates in that period.

In general, though, scoring has been a bit of an issue for Chelsea. The likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz haven't properly hit their stride yet, and this has undoubtedly impacted Mount's baseline assist numbers, as his expected assists total from open play is 4.1. With more clinical finishing he wouldn't still be sat on zero.

Mount's form lately suggests that once Chelsea begin to click in front of goal, he'll be key to much of their build-up if he's not the one finishing the chances.

Another string to Mount's bow is that he is a genuine set-piece specialist. His corner deliveries are consistently dangerous, and he's created more chances from set plays (38) in 2020-21 than any other player. That's six more than James Ward-Prowse and 16 more than Trent Alexander-Arnold, both of whom have received acclaim for their set-piece prowess over the years.

When thinking of players you might consider to be particularly good at dead-ball situations, Mount may not be the first that comes to mind among non-Chelsea fans, but maybe he should be.

An unsung hero

Mount's improvements certainly don't begin and end with his creativity in the final third, however. Tuchel's preference to play him more centrally is also leading to greater off-the-ball productivity.

He's always been a hard worker and certainly couldn't be accused of neglecting the less glamorous side of the game, yet his role for Tuchel seems to be harnessing his attitude and tirelessness even more effectively.

Mount is averaging 2.2 attempted tackles per 90 minutes under Tuchel, up from 1.7 across Lampard's time at the club. While he may be winning tackles at an almost identical rate (0.95 per 90 mins, up from 0.93), the increase in challenge attempts suggests Mount's work rate makes him a good fit for Tuchel's intense pressing system.

Since the German's first game in charge, Chelsea have the lowest PPDA (9.2) in the Premier League, proof that they press higher than anyone else. PPDA is the number of opposition passes allowed outside of the pressing team's own defensive third, divided by the number of defensive actions by the pressing team outside of their own defensive third. A lower figure indicates a higher level of pressing.

Mount leads Tuchel's press from the front. The midfielder has won possession in the final third 17 times in 19 games for Tuchel. Over the same period, İlkay Gundogan (20), Mohamed Salah (20) and Kevin De Bruyne (23) are the only Premier League players to have a better record than the Chelsea star across all competitions.

A homegrown beacon of hope

Throughout Roman Abramovich's time as Chelsea owner, the club has often found itself in a sort of purgatory. While they've undoubtedly wanted success and a first team full of homegrown talents, it's difficult to say they've truly struck a balance between the two.

After all, since the start of the century, Chelsea products reaching 100 Premier League appearances for the club have been a rarity.

John Terry, of course, leads the way, but beyond him it becomes a bit murky. John Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic perhaps come closest to fitting the bill, though both did play senior football elsewhere before joining the club as teenagers.

Granted, Mount remains a little way off yet as well having played 69 times in the top-flight for Chelsea, but he's quickly making up ground.

Not too far behind him are Tammy Abraham (57), Callum Hudson-Odoi (55) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (54), while Andreas Christensen – at Chelsea since 2013 – has featured 72 times.

What's in store for their long-term futures at Chelsea remains to be seen – they are far less certain than Mount.

But Mount especially shows that where there wasn't much hope for young talent coming through at Chelsea in the past, now there is for arguably the first time in the Abramovich era.

The accusations of Mount being a 'teacher's pet' have faded. Tuchel has no ulterior motive to keep picking Mount other than the fact he wants to pick the best side to win games. And with just two defeats in his first 21 games for Chelsea in all competitions, the German is certainly doing just that.

It is business time in the Champions League as the 2020-21 semi-finals get under way with the first legs this week.

Chelsea visit Real Madrid, who have seen pre-match questions focus on their continued pursuit of the controversial European Super League.

In the other tie, Paris Saint-Germain are the only remaining outfit not to have signed up for the competition prior to its collapse, gaining favour with UEFA.

They have a tough ask against Manchester City, however, after Pep Guardiola's men collected their first piece of silverware this season in the EFL Cup final.

Using Opta data, we break down the two matches...

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Los Blancos yet to beat Blues or Tuchel

When English football fans consider their country's most-consistent representatives in the Champions League, Chelsea will not be the team that immediately springs to mind for most.

Yet this will be the Blues' eighth semi-final appearance at this stage of the competition, a record among Premier League sides, and they have every reason to feel positive about the Blues' chances here.

They have only lost the first leg in one of their previous seven Champions League semis and head into the tie in good shape domestically, with Thomas Tuchel inspiring a significant improvement in their fortunes since taking over in January.

The German was in charge of PSG as they lost in last season's final to Bayern Munich but boasts a strong record against Madrid, having faced them more often without losing in this competition than any other side (W1 D3). The only other coach to take them on as many times in the Champions League and not lose is Gerard Houllier (P4 W2 D2).

Further to that, Madrid's record against Chelsea is poor, as they've not won any of their three previous meetings. Los Blancos haven't faced any other side more often without winning in their entire history.

A key factor in Chelsea's run to the semis has been their solidity at the back, and Edouard Mendy has more than played his part.

The Frenchman has let in just two goals in his first nine Champions League matches; if he keeps a clean sheet on Tuesday, he will match the record set by ex-Madrid man Keylor Navas for fewest conceded in a goalkeeper's first 10 games.

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City: Pep back in the big time

If Madrid and Chelsea are vastly experienced at this level, the same is not exactly true of PSG and City. The Ligue 1 club are playing their third Champions League semi-final, while this is City's second.

Indeed, City have only progressed through one of their prior three semis in all European competitions, winning the Cup Winners' Cup on that occasion in 1970.

PSG are finally getting to grips with UEFA's premier club tournament, however, becoming only the third French team to reach the last four in consecutive seasons - after Saint-Etienne 1975-76 and Marseille 1990-91 in the European Cup - and bidding to be the ninth side to play back-to-back finals.

They will require a first win over City to get there, though, drawing two and losing the other of their previous three meetings. Only against Juventus (eight), Arsenal and Milan (both four) have PSG played more games without winning in their history.

And Guardiola, having finally returned to this stage, has the know-how his players might lack. This a record-equalling eighth Champions League semis appearance, level with Jose Mourinho.

Mauricio Pochettino, then Tottenham manager, eliminated Guardiola in their only past European clash two seasons ago at the quarter-final stage, although the Catalan coach has 10 career wins against the PSG boss.

Pochettino will rely heavily on Neymar, who has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League last-four outings, while Guardiola can turn to Kevin De Bruyne, with four goals and four assists across his past seven knockout appearances.

De Bruyne scored in both legs when City beat PSG in the 2015-16 quarter-finals and could join Neymar (four), Lionel Messi and Marcus Rashford (both three) in netting against the Parisians in three consecutive Champions League games.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said star Kylian Mbappe asks about England and Spain amid speculation over his future.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with LaLiga champions Real Madrid, as well as Premier League holders Liverpool previously.

The France international is out of contract in 2022 but Ligue 1 champions PSG remain hopeful of re-signing the 22-year-old forward.

Pochettino was asked about his relationship with Mbappe ahead of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester City.

"Kylian loves football, he loves to talk about football," Pochettino said. "He asks about England – how is the game, the mentality and the culture there? – and also Spain and Argentina. He will watch, every day, games from England, France, Italy, Germany.

"He's only 22 but very mature, confident in his talent and open. He can speak French, of course, but also perfect English and Spanish. I speak in English and Spanish with him – more English than Spanish.

"I said to him the other day: 'I need to practise my French with you, to improve', and he said: 'Sure, but it's better for me to talk in English'. He loves to practise different languages.

"Before the [Champions League last 16] first leg in Barcelona, I told him that I'd won there one time with Espanyol and he said, very seriously: 'OK, tomorrow will be the second time'. I said: 'Are you sure?' And he said: 'Yes, don't worry. We are going to win'. He was laughing after the game and he said to me on the pitch: 'I told you, I told you, I told you'."

Pochettino spoke glowingly of fellow PSG star Neymar, who has also been linked with a move away from the French capital – a return to Barcelona continually discussed after he left Camp Nou in a world-record deal in 2017.

Neymar, who appears set to extend his PSG contract, has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances, while he has had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and four assists).

"It's so easy with Neymar because you don’t need to do too much," Pochettino added. "From day one, he's been very open to work. He's very humble, he listens and always accepts all the instructions in a very good way.

"Brazilian players have something special inside. They love to play football because it's like a dance. They play like they are dancing. Ronaldinho was my team-mate when I was a PSG player and now Neymar. They need to feel good, to feel happy to perform in the best way."

PSG are just the third French team to reach the semi-finals of the European Cup/Champions League in consecutive seasons, after Saint-Etienne in 1975 and 1976 and Marseille in 1990 and 1991.

Pochettino's PSG are also looking to reach their second consecutive Champions League final, following their defeat to Bayern Munich in last season's showpiece.

PSG would be just the ninth side to do so in back-to-back campaigns, while only Atletico Madrid and Valencia failed to lift the trophy in either of their first two final appearances.

"The target in the last 10 years has been to win the Champions League and the club is working really hard to try to be there and win," said Pochettino, who upstaged Pep Guardiola's City en route to Tottenham's Champions League final appearance in 2019.

"It is that last step, which is always the most difficult. If you remember at Tottenham, it was always about the last step being the most difficult thing. But Paris Saint-Germain is there and now it is about winning. I love to feel this. I love to feel that you need to win every single game."

Keylor Navas has agreed a one-year extension to his Paris Saint-Germain contract, keeping him in the French capital until 2024.

The Costa Rica international signed an initial four-year deal in 2019 when he joined PSG from Real Madrid.

Navas had won the Champions League three times in Madrid but made way as Thibaut Courtois was signed from Chelsea.

The 34-year-old has continued to excel in Europe's premier club competition since joining PSG, though.

Navas played nine of his side's 12 games as they reached the final last season, losing to Bayern Munich, and has been outstanding in their run to the 2020-21 semi-finals.

No goalkeeper in the Champions League this season has faced more shots (157) or made more saves (47) than Navas.

He has prevented 4.9 non-penalty goals, using expected goals on target (xGOT) data, including 2.2 in the quarter-final first-leg win against Bayern alone.

Only opposite number Manuel Neuer (5.2) has prevented more goals than Navas, who also saved a penalty from Lionel Messi in the last 16.

News of his new deal comes as the PSG goalkeeper prepares to face Manchester City in the last four, having returned from injury against Metz on Saturday.

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