Kylian Mbappe proved he is already one of the world's greatest players after netting a hat-trick in Paris Saint-Germain's 4-1 win over Barcelona, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

PSG battered Barca in Camp Nou on Tuesday, the Parisian's taking an emphatic away win into the second leg at the Parc des Princes next month.

While all eyes were on PSG-linked Messi before the game, Mbappe showed why he is regarded by many as the Argentinian's heir to the 'best player in the world' label.

After Messi opened the scoring from the spot, Mbappe went on to net a stunning treble that was completed late on with a gorgeous first-time effort that found the top-right corner, in doing so becoming the first away player to net a Champions League hat-trick in Camp Nou since Andriy Shevchenko in 1997.

Pochettino championed the Frenchman at full-time, but also urged his team to remain humble.

"We have no doubt that Kylian is one of the greatest players in the world despite his youth," Pochettino told RMC Sport.

"He has already done extraordinary things, but we must remain humble. There are 90 minutes left and they have great players. There is still a second leg."

The result gives PSG a massive advantage ahead of the second leg, though they of all clubs will be aware of what can happen when complacency sets in.

This was PSG's first trip to Barcelona since the 2017 humiliation, when they surrendered a 4-0 first-leg lead by losing 6-1 in the return leg.

As such, Pochettino was keen to stress PSG cannot get absorbed in any talk about their performance in Camp Nou being "perfect".

"There is no such thing as perfection," he added. "I am happy with the result and how we played, but we have to remain humble.

"On Sunday we have a big match against Monaco, we are already looking towards this match."

This was the first time Barcelona have conceded four goals in a home Champions League knockout match in over 23 years.

They have never progressed in a European knockout tie when losing their first game at home.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti will train ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Barcelona, which Mauricio Pochettino is approaching with calm despite the weight of history on his team's shoulders.

Last season's finalists will face Barca at the Camp Nou for the first time since their collapse in the second leg of the last-16 tie between the two teams in 2017.

PSG led 4-0 from the first leg at the Parc des Princes but astonishingly lost 6-1 in the second as Barca pulled off the greatest comeback in Champions League history.

The cast of characters has changed significantly for both clubs since then. Neymar scored twice that night but is now in his fourth season with PSG, though he will miss this meeting with a groin injury.

Angel Di Maria came off the bench for the PSG in the 6-1 defeat but is also out with a thigh problem.

Verratti also featured for a side then coached by Unai Emery and, despite a hip issue, appears poised to play a part in the first leg.

"We are taking it step by step with Marco Verratti," Pochettino told a pre-match media conference. "He is going to train today [Tuesday] and it won't be a particularly demanding one as it is the day before the match.

"We have a strategy and a gameplan that, depending on who is available, will affect our decision."

History suggests having Verratti available will boost PSG's chances.

Their win percentage in the 56 Champions League games he has started since joining from Pescara in 2012 is 60.7, compared to 56 in the 25 games he has either missed or been named on the bench.

Despite their injury concerns and the mystique around the fixture, Pochettino is confident his players can write a new positive chapter in the history between PSG and Barca.

"It is an obvious target for PSG to win the Champions League. That is our responsibility," said Pochettino.

"I always feel my team is ready. The conditions are the conditions. The situation is the reality and we will try to compete at our best tomorrow.

"I am very calm. History is in the past and we are now in a different reality with different players. Whatever happened in the past is behind us and can be removed."

Mauricio Pochettino said Paris Saint-Germain will be ready to face Barcelona in their blockbuster Champions League tie.

PSG will travel to Lionel Messi's Barca for Tuesday's last-16 first leg at Camp Nou after edging Nice 2-1 in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Goals from Julian Draxler and Moise Kean guided PSG past Nice in the French capital, where the Ligue 1 champions extended their winning streak to four matches across all competitions.

Post-match, head coach Pochettino highlighted the importance of the upcoming showdown against Barcelona but believes PSG will be ready for it.

"We have to be ready [for Barcelona]," Pochettino told reporters. Because we have a very important match on Tuesday. And the team will be ready for this match.

"First of all it will be recovery, both physical and mental [before Barcelona]. It's important to recharge the batteries.

"On a tactical level, we won't be able to work a lot on the field, but we will be able to use video.

"It's something we've been preparing for several weeks, so that the players can understand the game plan for this match."

PSG have won six of their eight Ligue 1 games under Pochettino (D1 L1), after winning just three of their previous seven at the end of 2020 (D2 L2).

Meanwhile, PSG have won each of their last six home games in Ligue 1 –the longest current run in the French top flight and their longest run since August 2018-March 2019 (15).

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino described his side's 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Nice on Saturday as "solid" and "professional". 

Julian Draxler and Moise Kean scored either side of Rony Lopes' fine strike at the Parc des Princes as PSG – who were without the injured Neymar – claimed an eighth win in their last nine games across all competitions.

The result lifted the defending champions to the summit of Ligue 1, although Lyon and Lille could move back above them if they overcome Montpellier and Brest respectively. 

PSG did not have it all their own way against Nice, who had 13 shots on goal, but Pochettino was pleased with his side's ability to carve out maximum points. 

"It was a professional display; solid but not brilliant perhaps," he told a media conference. 

"But given the circumstances, it's a decent match. It is not always easy to find the expected combinations. 

"We must be ready for the competition because it is not waiting for us and we must win all the matches that come up."

Kean followed up his winner in the midweek Coupe de France victory over Caen with another decisive goal – his 10th in Ligue 1 this season – and Pochettino was impressed with the youngster's contribution. 

"I think he had a good game and he scored," the former Tottenham boss said. "I'm happy with his performance; he can play anywhere in the attacking frontline. We are satisfied with everything he does."

PSG switched to a 4-3-3 formation in the closing stages and Pochettino said tactical flexibility is something he wants to instill in his players. 

However, he acknowledged there will be little time for that during the quick turnaround ahead of Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg against Barcelona. 

"We want the team to be able to communicate, to be confident in different patterns, to find new offensive animations," he added.

"After that, it's not always easy to work a lot in just 40 days [since he was appointed]. By Tuesday, there will not be much time to work tactically; we will instead focus on physical and mental recovery. 

"We have to play in different animations, with different options. It was one of my goals in Southampton and Tottenham and that's also what we are trying to do in Paris: make players feel confident in different systems with offensive and defensive animations."

Paris Saint-Germain moved to the Ligue 1 summit as Moise Kean's late goal sealed a 2-1 win over Nice at the Parc des Princes on Saturday. 

Mauricio Pochettino was without the services of Neymar, who is out for a month after suffering an adductor injury in the Coupe de France win over Caen in midweek, but the champions had just enough to seal a sixth consecutive top-flight home win. 

Rony Lopes cancelled out Draxler's 22nd-minute opener early in the second half, but Kean – who scored the winner against Caen – secured maximum points 14 minutes from time. 

The result meant PSG – who visit Barcelona for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday – leapfrogged Lille at the top of Ligue 1 courtesy of a superior goal difference, although Christophe Galtier's side can reclaim top spot with a point against Brest on Sunday.

The hosts deservedly went ahead midway through the first half when Draxler prodded home his third goal of the season from eight yards after Mauro Icardi's close-range effort had cannoned back off the post. 

Kylian Mbappe should have doubled PSG's advantage shortly before the interval, the France international failing to make contact with Icardi's cross from six yards, while Amine Gouiri thundered over a presentable opportunity at the other end.

Nice pulled level five minutes after the break when Marquinhos' attempted clearance went as far as Lopes, who drove into the penalty area and unleashed a powerful drive that gave Keylor Navas no chance. 

Mbappe fizzed a strike just wide soon after following a swift counter-attacking move, while Gouiri crashed against the crossbar from close range as Nice threatened to pull ahead. 

Kean stretched PSG's unbeaten run at home to Nice to 10 games in the 76th minute, though, heading in from four yards after Icardi had steered Mbappe's cross into his path.

 

Paris Saint-Germain will focus on helping Neymar recover emotionally from his latest injury setback, said Mauricio Pochettino, who is confident they have the squad to win without him.

Neymar was ruled out for up to four weeks after suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France clash with Caen on Wednesday.

He will miss Tuesday's trip to Camp Nou to face his former club Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash.

The timeline also puts him in doubt for the return leg at the Parc des Princes on March 10.

Neymar spoke of his immense sadness in an Instagram following news of his injury.

And asked about the Brazil forward ahead of their Ligue 1 clash with Nice, PSG boss Pochettino said: "We have been speaking since the injury happened and, with the tests that he had yesterday, he has made his sadness and pain public.

"We are all going to help him get back as quickly as possible. And also help him recover in terms of his emotional state because it has been a tough blow for him.

"He is a tough guy and he is very mature. We have got to know him here to see what a great person he is, not just an athlete, but an extraordinary person who builds good relationships and is very likeable."

Pochettino brushed off talk of him taking an unnecessary risk by playing Neymar against Caen with Barca on the horizon.

"We are here to manage a squad of players and we make decisions that we think are for the best," explained Pochettino. 

"We make decisions together and try to apply that all the time. A player got injured and that can happen. That can happen in the Coupe de France, in training, in the league, in the Champions League.

"It is a shame that he got injured, but these things happen in football.

"We cannot look back. We have key players injured and we have to look for solutions, while also knowing that we have a squad that can still handle that and play well in these fixtures.

"Whether it is Ligue 1 or the Champions League, I have total confidence in the squad, and they are PSG players for a reason. So we are going to try to go into every game to win without any excuses."

Neymar angrily rejected suggestions he is a "cry baby" as the Paris Saint-Germain star revealed the great sadness that had reduced him to tears following his latest injury setback.

In an emotive Instagram post, the Brazilian was evidently reeling from an adductor injury sustained in PSG's 1-0 Coupe de France win over Caen on Wednesday which has ruled him out for up to four weeks.

That means he will miss the visit to former club Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League next week, with the return leg on March 10 potentially also coming too soon.

It is far from the first time the 29-year-old has found himself sidelined, but he blasted the notion he was a soft touch on the pitch as he lashed out at his detractors.

"The sadness is great, the pain is immense and the crying is constant," he wrote.

"Once again I will stop for a while doing what I love the most in life, which is playing football.

"Sometimes I feel bothered by my style of play, dribbling and always end up being caught [by challenges].

"I don't know if it's me or what I do on the field. It really makes me sad.

"It makes me so sad to hear from a player, coach, or commentator... 'fall down', 'cry baby', 'spoiled' etc.

"I just want to be happy playing football. Nothing else."

Neymar has often suffered untimely injuries at a similar time in previous seasons during his stint at PSG.

In 2018, he sustained a broken toe in February, meaning he missed almost three months of action, with PSG losing 5-2 on aggregate to eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid in the last 16 in his absence.

An ankle injury then kept him out from January to April in 2019, with PSG going out at the hands of Manchester United, though he was fit to help the Parisians overcome Borussia Dortmund in last season's tournament, prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

PSG went on to lose in the final to Bayern Munich, though Neymar has lifted the trophy before, having scored in a 3-1 win over Juventus in the 2015 showpiece.

Neymar will miss Paris Saint-Germain's trip to former club Barcelona in the Champions League after being ruled out for up to four weeks.

The Ligue 1 club, who head to Camp Nou next Tuesday, confirmed the Brazilian had suffered an adductor injury in the Coupe de France win over Caen on Wednesday.

The estimated recovery time would also put Neymar in doubt for the return leg of the last-16 clash with Barca, which takes place on March 10.

Neymar suffered the injury around the hour mark of the 1-0 win, with the 29-year-old clutching at his groin.

Though team-mate and midweek match-winner Moise Kean told Eurosport afterwards that "all is well", head coach Mauricio Pochettino was less optimistic.

"His left adductor muscle is affected and they will examine him to see what type of injury he has," he said.

"The reality is that we do not know the extent of the injury, tomorrow we will know more."

Sure enough, a PSG statement released on Thursday confirmed a notable setback for Neymar.

suffered a lesion to the left adductor on Wednesday evening," it read.

"After analysis of clinical exams and scans, it is expected that he'll be out for around four weeks depending on the evolution of the injury."

Neymar has often suffered untimely injuries at a similar time in previous seasons during his stint at PSG.

In 2018, Neymar sustained a broken toe in February, meaning he missed almost three months of action, with PSG losing 5-2 on aggregate to eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid in the last 16 in his absence.

An ankle injury then kept him out from January to April in 2019, with PSG going out at the hands of Manchester United, though he was fit to help the Parisians overcome Borussia Dortmund in last season's tournament, prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

PSG went on to lose in the final to Bayern Munich, though Neymar has lifted the trophy before, having scored in a 3-1 win over Juventus in the 2015 showpiece.

Neymar will miss Paris Saint-Germain's trip to former club Barcelona in the Champions League after being ruled out for up to four weeks.

The Ligue 1 club, who head to Camp Nou next Tuesday, confirmed the Brazilian had suffered an adductor injury in the Coupe de France win over Caen on Wednesday.

The estimated recovery time would also put Neymar in doubt for the return leg of the last-16 clash with Barca, which takes place on March 10.

Moise Kean has moved to allay fears over Neymar's fitness, insisting "all is well" with his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate ahead of a crunch Champions League tie with Barcelona, though Mauricio Pochettino is uncertain.

Neymar started in PSG's Coupe de France clash with Caen on Wednesday, and supplied the assist for Kean's winner in a 1-0 victory.

However, the Brazil star was taken off on the hour, with the 29-year-old holding his groin area.

PSG face Neymar's former club Barca next week, in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter, which comes three days after a Ligue 1 meeting with Nice.

However, Kean – who has now scored 12 goals in all competitions this season – claimed that Neymar is fit and well despite the concerns.

"All is well, he is ready," Kean told Eurosport. "Tomorrow, in training, he will recuperate. He will be ready for the match."

Pochettino, however, took a more cautious approach.

"His left adductor muscle is affected and tomorrow they will examine him to see what type of injury he has," Pochettino told reporters.

"The reality is that we do not know the extent of the injury, tomorrow we will know more."

Neymar has often suffered untimely injuries at a similar time in previous seasons during his stint at PSG.

In 2018, Neymar sustained a broken toe in February, meaning he missed almost three months of action, with PSG losing 5-2 on aggregate to eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid in the last 16 in his absence.

An ankle injury then kept him out from January to April in 2019, with PSG going out at the hands of Manchester United, though he was fit to help the Parisians overcome Borussia Dortmund in last season's tournament, prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

Mauricio Pochettino urged people not to mistake France Football for Paris Saint-Germain amid continued talk of Lionel Messi moving to the Parc des Princes.

Messi, who attempted to force a switch from Barcelona prior to this season, is due to be out of contract at Camp Nou at the end of the campaign.

He has been frequently linked with PSG and the latest edition of France Football magazine ratcheted up the speculation, as the cover of the magazine featured Messi mocked up wearing a PSG shirt.

That will do little to improve the mood in the Barcelona camp, with head coach Ronald Koeman having previously accused PSG midfielder Angel Di Maria of disrespect.

Koeman's comments followed Messi's Argentina team-mate Di Maria saying there is a "big chance" the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will join PSG.

Pochettino was again asked about Messi prior to PSG's Coupe de France tie at Caen, which takes place on Wednesday.

The PSG head coach told a pre-match media conference: "I think we are talking about a magazine that has nothing to do with Paris Saint-Germain.

"When a player speaks, he might speak with emotion and affection, but there is no type of controversial situation here that we have thought up at the club.

"At no point has there been a lack of perspective. At no point has anything happened that is incorrect.

"I understand that players can talk and say whatever they like and that goes for Barcelona, Real Madrid. They might talk about fellow footballers at other clubs.

"Here we have total respect for every club and every player. We must not confuse what was said in France Football with PSG itself."

Angel Di Maria will miss the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie between Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentina international sustained a thigh injury in PSG's 2-0 Ligue 1 win over Marseille on Sunday.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino says the 32-year-old will be unavailable for the match at Camp Nou on February 16, as well as the Coupe de France game at Caen on Wednesday and Saturday's league clash at home to Nice.

"As the club said, there'll be further communication within the week concerning Angel but his participation in the match against Barcelona is compromised," Pochettino said on Tuesday of Di Maria.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid player has been directly involved in 14 goals in all competitions this season, behind only Neymar (16) and Kylian Mbappe (27) within the PSG ranks.

"His absence isn't a reason to change our ideas," Pochettino said. "We'll find the best available solutions. Angel has played a lot and he's an important player for us. But there are other players who can play and enable us to win matches."

Pochettino plans to resist the temptation to rest too many of his star names for the cup match at Stade Michel-d'Ornano despite the importance of the Barca tie.

PSG will certainly be without Marco Verratti (hip), Colin Dagba (thigh), Juan Bernat (knee) and Timothee Pembele (coronavirus protocols), while goalkeeper Keylor Navas is only expected to return to team training the day after the game.

There are also doubts over Mauro Icardi, who is nursing a bruised thigh, and Ander Herrera, who only this week resumed training after a month out with a muscle problem.

However, Pochettino is determined to field a strong enough side to reach the next round rather than simply use it as an opportunity to rotate and experiment with his tactics.

"We're not testing things in other competitions," he said. "We need to perform in all competitions. Against Caen, we'll need to play the best we can in order to win.

"We're going to take the best decisions in order to be competitive against Caen. That's our first objective. I'll analyse today the condition and the fitness of each player. We'll say who is available and take into account the risk of injury.

"We're going to select the best possible team, with players who are at 100 per cent, in every position, in order to win the match."

Mauricio Pochettino could not pretend Sunday's Classique victory bore any resemblance to the matches he played in with Paris Saint-Germain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Head coach Pochettino took PSG to Marseille for the first time since his return to the club.

It was a triumphant outing for the former Tottenham manager, who oversaw a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi.

Mbappe said afterwards the fixture had "regained importance" this season, with Marseille having won at PSG early in the season in a game that saw five red cards.

There was only a single dismissal this time – Dimitri Payet sent off late on – but Icardi described the success as "revenge".

For Pochettino, though, who was not involved in the reverse fixture, a big derby merely made him pine for the return of crowds, still missing in Ligue 1 due to COVID-19.

Asked if the mammoth clash was as he remembered as a player, Pochettino replied: "No. I can't find much of the past.

"How beautiful football was before the COVID. It's missing.

"When we look elsewhere, in other championships, we see upsets in the table, surprise results. Some players will suffer, too.

"A club like Paris needs the supporters to sublimate itself and we miss having supporters in the stadium."

Pochettino's pre-match concerns were focused on Neymar's illness, which kept him from training ahead of the match and limited him to a bench role.

Afterwards, Angel Di Maria was the worry, having suffered an injury in assisting Mbappe's opener.

First, Pochettino defended Neymar's involvement despite his ill health, explaining: "I will respond with great respect. If the club communicated that he was sick, it was in total transparency.

"He had been vomiting. He was really sick. He only played 30 minutes because we thought it was better that way. There was really a desire for transparency on the part of the club."

Then, on Di Maria, the coach was hopeful of positive news.

"The medical department will be giving Angel some tests," he said. "For now, the staff are confident enough to say that it is not too serious but we must wait for the exams to know the exact severity of the injury."

Mauricio Pochettino said Paris Saint-Germain should be left to work on signings "in silence" amid Barcelona's anger over Lionel Messi.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman hit out at PSG on Wednesday, saying the Ligue 1 giants had been "disrespectful" by regularly discussing Messi.

Angel Di Maria became the latest person connected to PSG to discuss Messi, with coach Pochettino, sporting director Leonardo and Neymar having also spoken about the Argentina star in recent months.

Pochettino would not be drawn into discussing Di Maria's comments about Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

"I am not going to talk about what our player's comment, as you know, because my words can be misunderstood, and then these words can go to another country in another way," he told a news conference after a 3-0 win over Nimes.

"I have to be focused on trying to improve this team, from now to the end of the season, to try to achieve our goals, knowing that it is not going to be easy because we are in a difficult competition, in a weird situation, with the pandemic that it is affecting all of us, and also football.

"And then, the Champions League and Coupe de France, we will try to compete and go as far as we can, try to win, because in Paris, is all about to win.

"But I don't want to give names, don't want to think on the future. I'm sure that the club is working in different situations to improve. So let's leave the club working in silence, in secret, in order to have a better team and with more possibilities to win."

Di Maria opened the scoring in PSG's win over Nimes before goals from Pablo Sarabia and Kylian Mbappe.

Pochettino praised the performance of Di Maria, who is also out of contract at the end of the season.

"I'm happy with [Di Maria's] performance and compromise within the team," he said.

"I think that as every player, he needs time but Angel is a very important player for the team. He's been at this club for many years. So I'm happy for his goal and his performance."

Mauricio Pochettino is prioritising Ligue 1 over other competitions in his first season at Paris Saint-Germain and is backing Sergio Rico after a difficult showing in the defeat to Lorient.

PSG were beaten 3-2 at Stade du Moustoir on Sunday, as the Parisians suffered their first loss under new head coach Pochettino.

Spanish goalkeeper Rico deputised for Keylor Navas between the posts, with PSG's first choice missing due to a stomach injury.

But Rico received widespread criticism for his performance, raising further doubts regarding his suitability as Navas' understudy and highlighting the Costa Rican's importance.

Navas looks set to miss Wednesday's visit of Nimes as well due to a groin complaint, meaning Rico is likely to keep his place in the team.

Since the start of last season, PSG have boasted a far better win percentage with Navas in the team (78.4 per cent of 37 games) than when Rico has started (57.1 per cent of seven matches).

They also concede twice as often on average when Rico is in the starting XI (1.4 goals per game) compared to Navas (0.7 goals per game), but Pochettino was keen to offer his backing to the 27-year-old.

"It is important that all the players are available so that the competition between them helps them to reach their best level," Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday.

"We have such a team that those who play less often have to be able to play and perform well when they are on the pitch.

"It is sometimes difficult to find positive elements when you lose a game, but we are happy with Sergio and his level in the team, and we expect him to perform well."

The decision to not risk Navas seems a wise one given the important matches on the horizon for PSG, as they go to Marseille on Sunday for Le Classique and have the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Barcelona on February 16.

PSG reached the final of Europe's elite competition last season under Thomas Tuchel, though that seemingly only earned him a certain amount of credit given his recent dismissal.

Despite PSG's apparent fixation with the Champions League since their QSI takeover in 2011, Pochettino insists it is not his focus, instead urging his team to respond to the Lorient setback as they look to prioritise domestic success.

"We have to improve collectively," he said. "We lost the match in Lorient in two actions. We are looking for solutions.

"We do not have much time to train, but we discuss to try to find solutions. With my staff, we arrived with the circumstances that you know.

"We assume our great responsibility. The objective is to win, to optimise the team. We want to win Ligue 1, which is our priority objective and there is time to do so."

PSG head into the midweek round of fixtures sitting third in Ligue 1, three points adrift of pacesetters Lille.

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