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.

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."

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe is not thought to be in danger of missing Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Manchester City despite sustaining a knock on Saturday.

Mbappe scored two of PSG's goals in their straightforward 3-1 win at Metz, a victory that lifted the Parisians back to the top of the table – at least until Sunday.

Those goals took Mbappe to 19 goal involvements away from home this season, more than anyone else in Europe's top five leagues, while only Erling Haaland (10) and Robert Lewandowski (nine) have more braces.

It continued the France striker's hot streak, taking him to nine goals in seven league games having previously only netted four times in nine top-flight matches.

There was a cause for concern late on as Mbappe suffered what appeared to be a heavy blow to his knee, with the 22-year-old subsequently substituted.

But Pochettino is not worried about his star man, who would be a major miss against City.

"It's a blow to the quads," Pochettino told Canal Plus. "I don't think it's much, we hope it's not serious.

"I don't think he's in danger for Wednesday. It's just a blow. It does not give us that impression [that he'll miss the City game].

"Kylian was calm at the time of his substitution, even though the blow was painful."

Marco Verratti, who also assured fans regarding Mbappe, felt that winning on Saturday was vital for ensuring a positive mentality going into the City clash and keeping the pressure on title rivals Lille, who face fourth-placed Lyon on Sunday.

"You have to win if you want to win this title," the Italy international said. "We want to win as many games as possible.

"I think we are having a good run. We are happy with what we have done so far.

"We are on our way to winning all the titles. We are coming into this match [City game] in the best possible way. We know that we meet a team like us who can also achieve a treble.

"They have confidence in themselves. It's going to be a nice game. We know that we have to be 100 per cent.

"We are there, we are ready. We will fight for 90 minutes on Wednesday. Then we will move on to the return leg."

Mauricio Pochettino knows the importance of rotation within his squad as Paris Saint-Germain prepare to fight on three fronts in the closing weeks of the season.

PSG secured a place in the Coupe de France semi-finals in midweek thanks to a 5-0 win over Angers, striker Mauro Icardi scoring a hat-trick on his return following a month out with injury.

Marco Verratti is also available again after overcoming COVID-19, though Pochettino did not reveal if the Italian midfielder will make his first start for the club since March 21 in Saturday's Ligue 1 trip to Metz.

As well as bidding to complete a league and cup double on the domestic front, PSG also have a Champions League semi-final coming up against Manchester City - they host the English side in the first leg on Wednesday.

"We need to manage the squad and the players well for every game so that we always send out a competitive team," Pochettino told the media on Friday.

"We have been playing every three days for three and a half months now and if we want to achieve our goals, all the players will be important.

"They will all need to take part and perform at a high standard, especially if we want to win all three competitions that we are competing in.

"We are happy with the team and the players and the effort they are making. Our idea is to always improve and evolve.

"We want to be better in every game. We are going to enter the most important part of the season, and we want to win all the competitions in which we are involved."

PSG sit a point behind leaders Lille in the table with five games to go as they chase a 10th Ligue 1 title.

They have won their previous nine league meetings against weekend opponents Metz, scoring 28 goals in the process at an average of 3.1 per game.

For Pochettino, making use of the resources he has available to him within the squad is crucial, considering the schedule during a campaign played out amid the backdrop of a health pandemic.

"It is not an advantage or a disadvantage. It is a case of adapting to the circumstances that we have never lived through in or life or in football," he replied when asked about constantly changing the starting line-up.

"It is down to the reasons and the circumstances which have meant that with COVID-19, our team has not been consistent in terms of having the same team.

"That is just a reality but is has nothing to with transfers in the future. It is to do with the circumstances we have had to live through with coronavirus and injuries. It doesn't just apply to us either, it goes for almost every club in the world.

"On top of that, we have been playing every three days, so rotation is needed to put out a competitive team and a fresh team at all times."

Metz are winless in their previous six Ligue 1 games (D2 L4) while PSG have won their past five away on the spin, their best run on the road since November 2019-February 2020.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with hat-trick hero Mauro Icardi's impact in Wednesday's 5-0 Coupe de France win after a month out with injury.

Icardi marked his first start for PSG in a month with a treble as they swept aside Angers to qualify for the Coupe de France semi-finals.

The Argentine, who spent last season on loan at PSG from Inter before signing permanently, has endured a difficult season impacted by injury.

"I'm glad Mauro scored three goals tonight," Pochettino said. "Anytime he's on the pitch, he has the opportunity to score.

"He's coming back from injury, I'm very happy with what he did."

Icardi has battled the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Moise Kean and Angel Di Maria for a regular spot when fit.

Pochettino would not be drawn on whether Wednesday's hat-trick would help the Argentine's cause in a bid to start in Saturday's Ligue 1 clash with Metz.

"We will see Saturday who will start," Pochettino said.

"It is always difficult for a player to suffer from muscle damage and to be held back by health problems. Even more so in a season of difficult circumstances like this."

Icardi's goals take his season tally to 11 in all competitions, having made 21 appearances.

"I felt confident," Icardi said. "I'd already scored against Saint-Etienne and I was very confident that I could come back after a tough injury hit year.

"I'm slowly getting back to form and scoring goals is always important for strikers."

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has struck a huge blow to the founding clubs in the European Super League by vowing his team will remain playing in UEFA competitions.

The French champions and Bayern Munich were two of the biggest teams not to commit to the breakaway continental tournament.

Six teams from the Premier League along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan were revealed on Sunday to be the 12 founding clubs of the new lucrative competition to which they would have guaranteed access every season.

The proposals have attracted widespread condemnation, with even Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – whose sides are involved – making clear they disagreed with the concept.

UEFA has unveiled its own new format for the Champions League, expanding the group stage and increasing the number of teams from 32 to 36 from 2024.

It is this structure which Al-Khelaifi believes in and he insists PSG will continue to operate under, dashing hopes that the Ligue 1 heavyweights may ultimately join the ESL.

Al-Khelaifi issued a statement on Tuesday after he was re-elected to the UEFA Executive Committee as a European Club Association (ECA) representative.

"Paris Saint-Germain holds the fine belief that football is a game for everyone," he said.

"I have been consistent on this since the very beginning.

"As a football club, we are a family and a community, whose fabric is our fans - I believe we shouldn't forget this.

"There is a clear need to advance the existing UEFA competition model, presented by UEFA yesterday and concluding 24 months' of extensive and collaborative consultation across the whole European football landscape.

"We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA - an organisation that has been working to progress the interests of European football for nearly 70 years - does not resolve the issues currently facing the football community, but is instead driven by self-interest.

"Paris Saint-Germain will continue to work with UEFA, the European Club Association and all stakeholders of the football family based on the principles of good faith, dignity and respect for all."

Of his re-election, the PSG chief added: "I am honoured by the trust placed in me by my colleagues of the ECA to represent them on the UEFA Executive Committee.

"European football is at a pivotal moment, in which all stakeholders should work together; in good faith, with dignity, and to protect the game we all love."

Earlier, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin thanked the club officials who have stood by Champions League reform proposals.

He was speaking at the UEFA Congress the day after criticising those involved in the breakaway European Super League in emotional comments.

Ceferin picked out Al-Khelaifi, who was present at the event in Switzerland, for praise, calling him "a great man" and adding that he had shown he "respects football and its values".

After a 3-2 win over Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Sunday, PSG are at home to Angers in the Coupe de France quarter-final on Wednesday.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: "It is hard to express an opinion [on the Super League], we must take precautions because we do not know everything under the surface.

"We will see what happens in the next few days to give an opinion.

"We are currently still in three competitions [Ligue 1, the Coupe de France and Champions League], so we must focus on it and focus above all on the game.

"The Coupe de France is a special competition for the Parisians, for the players and the club. We're really attached to this competition.

"We hope Kylian [Mbappe] will be able to continue in the same way through to the end of the season. He's in great form, all the better for the team. 

"The atmosphere has always been good since I arrived, but the win over Saint-Etienne gave the squad an extra boost of energy."

Kylian Mbappe is pleased Paris Saint-Germain are involved in a title race this season as it demonstrates just how hard it is to be crowned Ligue 1 champions.

PSG closed to within a point of leaders Lille thanks to a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Saint-Etienne on Sunday, Mauro Icardi grabbing the winner deep into stoppage time at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe underlined his importance by scoring twice in the see-saw contest, cancelling out Denis Bouanga's opener with his first before putting the hosts ahead from the penalty spot.

However, it seemed Saint-Etienne had secured a point when Romain Hamouma made it 2-2 in the second added minute.

"We got into a bit of trouble. When we lead 2-1 like that, we have to keep the score," Mbappe told Canal+. "But we didn't give up, we wanted to win.

"The championship is extremely important to us - it is a primary objective. It would be the 10th for the club and we want to participate in the history of the club.

"We want to win, we are competitors. People think it's easy to win. This year, it's good, there is a title race, it shows that it is not easy what we have done in recent years.

"We want to keep doing it. There is no secret; we have to give our all and win all the matches."

Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani have scored more goals in Ligue 1 for PSG than Mbappe. He has 23 in 28 appearances in the competition this season, as well as a further eight in the Champions League to help his side reach the semi-final stage.

Mauricio Pochettino is optimistic over the 22-year-old signing a new deal to extend his stay in the French capital, too.

"I am an optimist, and I hope that the best players at the club, in this case Kylian, will stay here," the PSG coach said.

On the game itself, Pochettino was pleased with the character shown by his players, particularly after they had seemingly let the win slip away when Hamouma equalised for the visitors.

"I don't know if it's a champion's victory, but it's the victory of a team which believes in itself, which does not surrender," Pochettino told the media.

"These are three very important points to stay in the championship race until the end. As staff, we always advocate confidence, optimism. This attitude is very important for approaching life and football.

"The team has the mentality, not just athleticism and talent, but also character. These three points give us energy, a very positive feeling to face what awaits us and which will be difficult."

Mauricio Pochettino believes winning the Champions League is in the heads of everybody at Paris Saint-Germain, but insists that will not shift their focus away from Ligue 1.

On Tuesday, PSG progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League with an away goals win over Bayern Munich – who defeated them in the final last season.

Manchester City are next up for the French champions, but first, they must attempt to close the gap in the Ligue 1 title race.

Pochettino's team sit four points behind leaders Lille heading into Sunday's meeting with Saint-Etienne, while Monaco and Lyon are also in contention.

PSG have have not lost any of their last 15 Ligue 1 games against St Etienne (W10 D5) – only against Angers (21) and Brest (18) are they on a longer unbeaten run in meetings with current French top-flight sides – though they have lost their last three matches at home.

Asked if the thought of ending their wait for a Champions League title is at the forefront of his players' minds, Pochettino told a news conference: "That question should have been asked a long time ago.

"I think it is in everyone's heads at the clubs, not just because we are now in the semi-finals.

"We have an important game tomorrow so it is difficult to speak about the Champions League now."

Pochettino also has no concerns over facing Premier League leaders City in the last four, adding: "When a team like PSG wants to win every competition, we do not mind which team we face because we know we have to beat everyone if we want to be champions."

Pochettino has already lost as many games at home in seven matches in Ligue 1 with PSG (three) as his predecessor Thomas Tuchel in 42 games, and more than Unai Emery (one loss in 38 games), Laurent Blanc (2/57) and Carlo Ancelotti (2/28).

However, he pointed to Lille's failure to beat Montpellier on Friday as an example of how competitive Ligue 1 is this season.

"We are seeing how difficult it is for every team to pick up points and win games, I think Ligue 1 is very competitive. It clearly shows that it is not easy for any team to win," he said.

"We will have to answer it tomorrow by improving our performance and getting a positive result. We have the chance to reduce the gap to Lille, but more importantly we want to perform well at home and get back to winning ways on home turf, if we want to win the league."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he will "fight with all my energies" to keep Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe in the French capital.

Mbappe has long been tipped to join LaLiga champions Madrid, though PSG remain in contract negotiations with the star forward.

The World Cup-winning France international is contracted to PSG until 2022 and Pochettino is confident Mbappe will remain in Paris, where team-mate Neymar has been linked with a return to Barcelona.

"Mbappe to Real Madrid? I'll fight with all my energies to keep Kylian here at PSG," Pochettino told El Larguero.

"PSG are doing everything possible to keep Neymar and Mbappe.

"I am equally optimistic that Mbappe will stay. They both have a huge commitment."

While there are long-term doubts over Mbappe and Neymar, PSG have been linked with blockbuster moves for superstar Barca captain Lionel Messi and Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos.

Messi and Ramos are both out of contract at the end of the season and their futures remain uncertain.

PSG – through to the Champions League semi-finals against Manchester City after eliminating holders Bayern Munich – have reportedly emerged as strong suitors for six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and Spain centre-back Ramos.

"Surely soon it will be known what happens with Leo Messi future and contract," Pochettino said.

Pochettino added: "Sergio Ramos? I don't like to talk about players who are not in my team.

"There are a lot of rumours... here at PSG we're working to improve the team."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino does not believe his team are favourites to win the Champions League after eliminating holders Bayern Munich.

PSG advanced to the semi-finals for the second successive season on away goals after the blockbuster tie ended 3-3 following Tuesday's 1-0 loss at home to Bayern.

Ligue 1 champions PSG exacted some revenge after moving through to the final four, having lost last season's decider to Bayern.

PSG will face either Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund in the semis, while Chelsea are set to meet the winner of the Liverpool-Real Madrid clash.

Pochettino, though, dismissed the idea that PSG are the main contender to win the Champions League this season.

"I don't think so," Pochettino told reporters when asked if PSG are favourites. "We have beat Barcelona in last 16 in two games, we have beat Bayern now in two games too.

"I think we deserved to win both ties, but I don't think PSG are the main contender to win Champions League. There are still rivals in. We have qualified and Chelsea did today as well.

"We will see in the ties Man City versus Dortmund and Liverpool versus Real Madrid. Any team which is in semi-finals has the same options to win."

PSG's elimination of Bayern is the first instance in Champions League history of the previous season's losing finalists eliminating the holders in the knockout stages.

French giants PSG have reached the semi-finals for the second season in a row, after managing to reach the final four only once in their previous 11 campaigns in the competition before that – their first in 1994-95.

PSG, though, failed to score at home in the Champions League for the first time in 24 games, since a 0-0 draw with Madrid in October 2015.

Asked to pick between City and Dortmund, former Tottenham boss Pochettino – who led Spurs to the 2018-19 Champions League final – added: "We have faced Barcelona in last 16, playing two games, and we have disqualified Barca. We have also eliminated Bayern Munich in quarter-finals.

"We don't choose one or other rival. The one we play, we will try to beat them. If you are wondering we can or not beat them, we will see."

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."

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Marquinhos and Marco Verratti are unlikely to start the second leg against Bayern Munich as Paris Saint-Germain look to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Verratti, along with fellow Italy international Alessandro Florenzi, missed the first meeting between the teams in Munich after testing positive for COVID-19.

However, the duo have received the all-clear and are back in training ahead of the return fixture in the French capital, with PSG holding a 3-2 advantage at the halfway stage in the tie.

Pochettino told the media on Monday he is yet to decide on his line-up, with Marquinhos remaining a doubt due to a thigh injury.

"We haven't decided the team for tomorrow yet, but it will be difficult for Verratti to start," the PSG boss said in his pre-game news conference. "Florenzi will be assessed further tomorrow."

On Marquinhos' status, he added: "We will see how he feels tomorrow. In theory, he could be involved in the squad, so we will see.

"I don't think he will be able to start, certainly, but he may be able to be on the bench. We will decide that on Wednesday."

PSG knocked out Barcelona in the previous round 5-2 on aggregate, though were held to a 1-1 draw at home in the second leg following a resounding triumph at Camp Nou.

Pochettino is well aware that the tie with Bayern – who he made clear are the best team in the world – is much tighter, meaning his players must find the right balance between retaining their slender advantage and also posing problems in attack for their opponents.

"At home to Barcelona, particularly in the first half, we found it very hard to keep the ball, even with Verratti and Leandro Paredes in the team," Pochettino said.

"It is not about individual names but collective attitude. We have to have a different approach from the Barcelona game while understanding that we don't just need to defend but also to keep the ball to attack and hurt the opposition.

"This is the challenge that lies ahead, and once again we have a positive first-leg result to build on."

PSG have won all four of their previous games in which they have hosted the German side in European competition, while only three of the previous 50 teams to lose the first leg at home in a Champions League knockout tie have managed to progress.

Pochettino, though, is well aware of the size of the task the hosts face against the defending champions, with Bayern having gone 16 games unbeaten in the competition under Hansi Flick prior to the loss on home soil last week.

"The Barcelona game is the past, Bayern are the best team in the world at the moment so they will certainly make it difficult for us," the former Tottenham head coach said.

"We need the strength and ability to manage those moments, just as we did in the first leg in Munich.

"They are world champions who have won six trophies in recent months. We are the pretenders and contenders to win the trophy. We have to consider all the circumstances surrounding the tie.

"If we get through to the semi-finals, it will be a big achievement for the club. PSG want to win every competition we are involved in, but beating Bayern Munich, in itself, would be a big feat."

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino insists it was not a risk to play Kylian Mbappe for almost the entirety of Saturday's 4-1 triumph over Strasbourg, just three days before their crucial Bayern Munich clash.

Mbappe scored twice as PSG defeated Bayern 3-2 in Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday.

The France forward was influential again as he scored and set up another at the Stade de la Meinau to help PSG cut the gap to Ligue 1 leaders Lille back to three points.

PSG were 3-0 up by half-time, with Pablo Sarabia and Moise Kean also on target, but Mbappe was not withdrawn until the 89th minute.

Asked if that was a risk by Canal+, Pochettino replied: "No. You need to remember that he played 88 minutes against Brest in the Coupe de France and the best thing for Kylian to get him ready is to play. 

"He is the first to sense if there is something wrong. He will be the first to tell me, like all the players. 

"We are professionals, we have a performance and medical staff and we try to make the best decisions for the team. 

"People can say whatever they want, that is football. Sometimes we have our truth and we can't make everyone happy. 

"But Kylian is a player who is happy when he's on the pitch and he knows himself very well."

Pochettino was asked if PSG beating Bayern would represent the club's best achievement in recent years but the Argentinian was reluctant to make such judgements.

"I do not know. It's up to you to be the judge. For us, it's our goal to be ready on Tuesday," he added.

"It was important to beat Barcelona [in the last 16] and for me we are going to play the best team in the world. 

"We still have 90 minutes in which we will suffer but our objective is to beat them and go to the next round."

PSG were beaten by league leaders Lille at home last week and were six points adrift prior to kick-off.

Pochettino felt his side showed they have the mettle to compete on three remaining fronts this term with their win over Strasbourg.

"We were talking about it before the game. It was very important to take these three points because we remain in the title race thanks to them," he said. 

"For us, it's not a question of pressure or of playing while being anxious, we have to be efficient. 

"Today, we showed that we were fighters in the way of playing that we want to have and that's how we want to be. 

"We have to be more consistent but we fight in three competitions: the cup, the championship and the Champions League. 

"It complicates things but the team have shown significant faith and believe in what they do. Today was a good day for us."

Mauricio Pochettino promised Paris Saint-Germain will fight to keep Kylian Mbappe amid the latest round of reports linking the France striker to Real Madrid.

There were claims from various Spanish media on Thursday that Mbappe has told PSG he wants a close-season switch to Madrid, the club that have been long-time admirers of the World Cup winner.

Mbappe has a contract that runs only until the end of next season, meaning there is an urgency about getting his situation resolved.

The 22-year-old's importance to PSG was reflected in his two-goal showing against Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week, with Mbappe firmly established among the world's most coveted forwards.

With his stature comes the guarantee that other clubs will be casting admiring glances his way, and the possibility that Mbappe will be tempted to leave the Parc des Princes.

Asked about the reports, PSG head coach Pochettino said: "This is something we are used to. When we talk about top clubs and top players such as Kylian Mbappe, who is world class, rumours will always be there.

"The most important thing is that Kylian Mbappe stays calm and focused on helping the team achieve its targets.

"He is very mature despite his young age. As I have already said, the club and the player are focused on trying to reach an agreement so that Kylian can stay with us for a long time.

"That is the club's wish and we are working on everything. Something that happens on the outside is something we cannot control, but will it affect the team in terms of performance or the atmosphere here? No, not at all."

Mbappe has 32 goals and nine assists across all competitions this season, with only Robert Lewandowski (42) and Erling Haaland (33) ahead of him on the goals front among players from Europe's 'top five' leagues. Those goals from Mbappe have come at an average of one every 91.78 minutes.

Pochettino says the "mood is positive" in the PSG camp after their 3-2 win at Bayern, which puts them in the driving seat ahead of Tuesday's home leg of the quarter-final.

Saturday sees his team face Strasbourg in Ligue 1, and it remains to be seen what team Pochettino fields, given PSG have ground to make up on leaders Lille.

At the same time they would not want to risk key players being injured ahead of the Bayern return game, and Pochettino said in his Friday news conference there are "a lot of players that will be unavailable".

PSG have won just one of their last six away games against Strasbourg in Ligue 1 (L2 D3), after winning five of their previous six (D1).

Their form after Champions League games is also a cause for concern, having lost after each of their last three European matches.

There is little room for another such slip-up this weekend, with PSG having already suffered eight defeats after 31 games in their domestic league campaign.

That is their highest tally of losses at this stage of a season since 2009-10, when they were beaten 12 times and finished 13th in the French top flight.

At least PSG have strong recent away form in Ligue 1, having won on each of their last four trips.

Pochettino spoke about the challenge of balancing domestic and Champions League commitments, which make for a busy schedule at this stage of the season.

Pochettino went through similar when he led Tottenham to the 2019 Champions League final, and he said the task "is not easy for the players".

But there is a distinct difference this season, as Pochettino pointed out.

"At Tottenham there was no pandemic we are experiencing now and that makes things more complicated," he said. "The COVID-19 factor cannot be managed. It is something that affects every team in a completely different way.

"I think that is something we will find out more about over time in terms of how it affected the players, but we have to adapt as well as we can to be competitive."

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