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."

Mauricio Pochettino warned his Paris Saint-Germain players they must not let their standards slip in next week's return against Champions League holders Bayern Munich.

A Kylian Mbappe brace helped PSG to a scintillating 3-2 win over Bayern in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

Ligue 1 giants PSG can seal revenge for last season's final defeat to Hansi Flick's Bayern at the Parc des Princes next Tuesday, but they had to come through some relentless spells of pressure to claim the midway advantage.

Bayern had 31 shots to PSG's six, with each side's expected goals (xG) return standing at 3.8 and 1.36 according to Opta, although Mbappe's clinical edge proved decisive.

Bayern Robert Lewandowski will be out once again for the return clash in Paris but Pochettino believes Bayern still carry plenty of threat and he wants an improvement from PSG's last-16 home leg.

PSG were 4-1 winners at Barcelona in the previous round but were outplayed by the LaLiga powerhouse for long spells of a 1-1 draw in the French capital.

"It's a totally different result from the first leg against Barca, the advantage is as small as possible," head coach Pochettino told RMC Sport.

"We hope that our performance on the return will be better than against Barcelona, that's our desire.

"But there is always a mountain of elements to take into account to obtain a result."

One of those elements are PSG's own fitness concerns.

Marquinhos went off after making it 2-0 in Bavaria, while Abdou Diallo made way at half-time and Angel Di Maria pulled up with a hamstring injury after laying on Mbappe's winner.

"[Marquinhos] felt pain in his adductors, we hope it's not serious and that he will be available quickly," Pochettino said after PSG beat Bayern away from home in the Champions League for the first time since 1994.

"I am happy with the result, with the attitude of the team which found itself in difficult situations against the best team in Europe.

"We must congratulate the players for their sense of sacrifice, we are trying to repeat this kind of performance."

PSG continued to invite Bayern to attack them after losing key Marquinhos and Diallo, with Mbappe and Neymar's prowess on the counter ultimately vindicating a high-risk tactic.

"When you win, it's always easier to explain your decisions, everyone thinks you made the right choices," Pochettino added.

"But the credit goes to the players, they are the main protagonists. It is their quality that must be highlighted.

"There were a lot of sacrifices tonight. But we still have one game, 90 minutes to play, the first leg is favourable but the return will be difficult, as we know."

Mauricio Pochettino believes his fresh perspective means Paris Saint-Germain's latest Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich is not a revenge mission.

Bayern beat PSG 1-0 in last season's final, Paris-born Kingsley Coman getting the only goal in Lisbon.

Since then Pochettino has succeeded Thomas Tuchel as head coach of the capital club and, as such, he views Wednesday's quarter-final first-leg encounter at the Allianz Arena with a certain level of detachment.

"No, it's not a benchmark match for us," Pochettino told a pre-match news conference. "We weren't there with my staff, we were just spectators. In addition, it's over two matches that it's going to be played, the context is different.

"Sporting revenge still exists, but for us it's more of a challenge to beat such a strong team, maybe the best in the world."

Even their most ardent supporters would struggle to apply such a label to PSG at present after a 1-0 weekend loss to leaders Lille left them facing an uphill battle to retain their Ligue 1 title.

Neymar, sent off during that frustrating Parc des Princes encounter, is available to line up alongside Kylian Mbappe once more and the star forwards will hope to exploit Bayern's high line to a greater extent than they managed in last August's showpiece.

PSG's capacity to create for Neymar and Mbappe will be compromised by Marco Verratti's absence after the Italy midfielder returned a second postiive COVID-19 test this season.

"Each team has its characteristics, Bayern are a well-organised team with a high defensive line," Pochettino said.

"Their attacking players can throw opponents off balance and make a difference. It's up to us to make sure we don't lose the ball in dangerous areas."

Bayern's forward line will lack their injured talisman Robert Lewandowski, while Serge Gnabry is also set to miss the tie after testing positive for coronavirus.

There will still be plenty of problems to nullify for Marquinhos and his defensive colleagues, although the PSG captain aligned himself with Pochettino despite having experienced the heartbreak in Lisbon first hand.

"There is no revenge compared to last season, it is another context, each game has its story," he said.

"If some people want to use that to motivate them, why not?

"The finals are played on small details, you have to take the few chances you have. Tomorrow it will be the same.

"They too know that they will have to take their chances. Everyone is aware that it will be played on details."

Mauricio Pochettino hopes Neymar can show his talents against Bayern Munich on Wednesday after the Brazilian was sent off on his return to the Paris Saint-Germain starting XI.

Having appeared for 20 minutes as a substitute at Lyon ahead of the international break, Neymar started for the first time since February's Coupe de France trip to Caen when PSG hosted Lille on Saturday.

But the top-of-the-table Ligue 1 clash turned sour for the superstar as he was controversially dismissed in the closing stages of a 1-0 defeat.

Neymar, who tried to retrieve the ball from Lille defender Tiago Djalo before both players were sent off, has earned four red cards since his Ligue 1 debut in August 2017, a tally only topped in this time by Nantes midfielder Andrei Girotto.

The forward's latest misdemeanour is set to keep him out of league action as PSG aim to overturn the three-point advantage Lille secured at the weekend.

But Neymar can for now channel his energy into avenging last season's Champions League final defeat to Bayern when PSG face the reigning European and world champions in a two-legged quarter-final.

The world's most expensive footballer has played only six knockout games in the competition since moving to PSG, although he was ever-present in the five during last season's run.

Now, he is fit again and ready to take on Bayern on Wednesday with coach Pochettino's backing.

"After six weeks, he was very excited to start a game," Pochettino told a news conference on Tuesday, explaining Neymar's red card.

"He's an emotional player, he likes to play, he likes to fight, he's a competitive player. He didn't deserve this red - he was sent off for various reasons - but he knows he has to channel himself.

"I hope that tomorrow everything will be fine, that we can play a very good game, and that the whole team will get the performance we hope for."

Compatriot and captain Marquinhos also came to Neymar's defence.

"I've known Ney for years," he said. "We know he's a very competitive player. If you look at the action, he got a foul, he came to get the ball, he showed a lot of commitment.

"He's a great player, he's very motivated; what happened happened. Tomorrow we need great players to make a great game.

"We're not going over history again. Tomorrow is the Champions League, we learn from our mistakes and we think about what we have to do tomorrow."

Yet PSG, who beat Barcelona in the previous round, are determined not to rely on Neymar (13 goals this season) and Kylian Mbappe (30) alone against Bayern.

"I always preferred to talk about the collective, especially before these kind of games," Marquinhos said.

"When we see our performance in Barcelona, the collective was really strong; we saw it before the individualities.

"If everyone plays their part on the field with the right mindset, the individuals will then get away with it.

"I prefer to put the team forward, we can't always talk about specific cases."

Pochettino added: "We focus a lot on Mbappe and Neymar, but the 11 players who will start tomorrow will have the responsibility to do everything to help us get the win."

The PSG coach will at least be able to call on his superstar duo while Robert Lewandowski (knee) and Serge Gnabry (coronavirus) are out for Bayern.

Lewandowski and Gnabry shared six goals on the only previous occasion Pochettino took on Bayern, then as Tottenham manager on the end of a 7-2 humbling.

"Bayern's strength is its collective, its squad," Pochettino said. "When you win the Champions League and the Club World Cup, you have a very good group, not just 11 successful players.

"We are talking about Lewandowski and Gnabry, who are very good players, but we also have absentees like [Mauro] Icardi and [Marco] Verratti.

"That being said, for sure, for them, these are absences that weigh heavily."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The group is very concerned."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.