Smells like team spirit to Pochettino as PSG close in on Champions League glory

By Sports Desk April 13, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino said Paris Saint-Germain felt like "a real team" after they edged out Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

With "geniuses" such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria, there has never been any doubting the quality of the individuals in the PSG ranks.

They reached last season's Champions League final, and on Tuesday they completed a revenge mission against the Bundesliga giants who beat them in that Lisbon showpiece match.

A 1-0 home defeat saw the Ligue 1 outfit through on away goals following their 3-2 win in Munich last week.

"It was a real tough match," Pochettino said on BT Sport. "I'm really happy because the players deserve big credit. I'm so happy for them, the club, the president, for [sporting director] Leonardo who trusts in us.

"After three months working here, we are here and we are enjoying the moment. If you win and you qualify for the semi-final that is an amazing moment for us."

Asked directly about his three thrilling front players, Pochettino shone a light on what he wants them to deliver, which is not only the frequent moments of solo magic.

"They are fantastic players and the capacity and the quality is there and you can appreciate it, and of course they work so hard," the former Tottenham boss said.

"I am so happy because our job is to try to put this type of talent, they are geniuses, to work like a team, to bring the effort without the ball. Of course with the ball they are fantastic, but to feel that we are a real team that is a challenge for us and at the moment we are so happy about that."

PSG had won all four of their previous home matches against Bayern in Europe, with those games all coming in the Champions League from 1994 to 2017, and the slender defeat felt like another victory this time.

Pochettino said he tried to enjoy a contest in which PSG played delightfully at times, repeatedly opening up the Bayern defence with thrilling interplay between the front players.

Neymar had five shots in the first half, three of which drew fine saves from Manuel Neuer, hitting the crossbar and post with the other two attempts prior to the break.

In all, he had a team-high 85 touches, played the most passes in the opposition half (28) of any PSG player, and was involved in more duels (30) than anyone on the pitch.

The Brazilian was sensational on a night when Mbappe, who scored twice in the first leg, was a little erratic, being flagged offside six times. On one of those occasions, the flag looked to have gone up too early and Mbappe might have had a chance to score or set up a team-mate. On another, he raced through and thrashed a ferocious shot beyond Neuer, only for the goal to be disallowed.

It was a tie that was tense through to the final whistle in the second leg, as Pochettino got the better of Bayern boss Hansi Flick.

"Every time I am calm outside," said Pochettino. "But inside always you are always a little bit with the stress of the competition, adrenaline that we love to feel, but tonight was a fantastic game."

Related items

  • Manchester United 1-1 Young Boys: Greenwood scores stunner in Group F draw Manchester United 1-1 Young Boys: Greenwood scores stunner in Group F draw

    Mason Greenwood scored a spectacular goal as Manchester United drew 1-1 with Young Boys at Old Trafford in their Group F finale.

    Despite Ralf Rangnick making 11 changes to the team that beat Crystal Palace last weekend, the Red Devils got off to a flying start as Greenwood volleyed stylishly inside the near post after Shaw had sent the ball into the middle.

    However, the visitors equalised three minutes before half-time as Fabian Rieder pounced on a loose pass before bending a sweet strike into the top corner, leaving Dean Henderson with no chance.

    The second half lacked the energy of the first, although Young Boys looked the more dangerous of the two sides, but they were ultimately unable to find a winner.

    Greenwood gave United the lead in the ninth minute with a fabulous, acrobatic finish into the bottom-left corner from Shaw's left-wing cross.

    The hosts were lively throughout the first half and Greenwood burst down the left before pulling back for Juan Mata, but the Spaniard's well-struck, deflected effort was kept out superbly by Guillaume Faivre.

    But Young Boys drew level with a fantastic goal of their own through Rieder, who picked off a pass in the United third and curled a stunning strike from the edge of the box into the top-right corner.

    The visitors then went close to taking the lead on the stroke of half-time as Michel Aebischer lashed a low shot across goal that Eric Bailly did well not to turn into his own net.

    Young Boys pushed for a winner in the second half and had a glorious opportunity to put themselves ahead when Quentin Maceiras somehow fired wide after being found in space in the box by Silvan Hefti.

  • Bayern Munich 3-0 Barcelona: Xavi's side crash out of Champions League Bayern Munich 3-0 Barcelona: Xavi's side crash out of Champions League

    Barcelona have been eliminated from the Champions League following a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

    Xavi's side drop into the Europa League and will not appear in the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

    Already assured of top spot in Group E, first-half goals from Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane put Bayern well on the way to progressing with a 100 per cent record.

    Jamal Musiala ensured that Julian Nagelsmann's side did just that when he sealed the victory just after the hour mark in another routine victory for the hosts in this fixture.

    To avoid elimination, Barca needed to win or hope that Benfica failed to beat Dynamo Kiev elsewhere in the final round of group fixtures.

    Jordi Alba tested Manuel Neuer from distance, while Ousmane Dembele swept a shot over from Memphis Depay's square ball.

    But Barca fell behind in the 34th minute; Robert Lewandowski cleverly twisting and turning before crossing for Muller, whose looping header crossed the line before Ronald Araujo could volley clear.

    Bayern doubled their lead just before the break with Sane's powerful 30-yard strike completely perplexing Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    Sane squandered a golden opportunity for his second goal shortly after the restart when somehow failing to turn the ball home from inside the six-yard box after Kingsley Coman cushioned Alphonso Davies' cross into his path.

    Bayern's third goal did arrive in the 62nd minute as Musiala sealed the deal by slotting home following a strong run and cross by Davies.

  • Rangnick changes entire Man Utd team for Young Boys showdown Rangnick changes entire Man Utd team for Young Boys showdown

    Ralf Rangnick made 11 changes for Manchester United's Champions League clash with Young Boys on Wednesday.

    The Red Devils were already assured of a place in the knockout stages ahead of the Group F showdown at Old Trafford.

    Rangnick handed Dean Henderson an opportunity in goal behind a back four of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic, who captained the side, and Luke Shaw.

    Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata anchored the midfield with Jesse Lingard and Amad Diallo starting in more advanced roles behind a front two of Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga.

    With Elanga and Diallo both starting, the Red Devils included more than one teenager in their starting XI for a Champions League game for the first time since November 2009 v Besiktas (Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Rafael).

    The German also went for a youthful bench that included Charlie Savage – son of former United academy player Robbie – and Zidane Iqbal, who became the first British South Asian to be named in a United squad.

    United won their first two meetings with Young Boys in the Champions League but fell to a 2-1 loss when the sides met in September.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.