- Thomas Tuchel says Mbappé is fit after recent ankle problems
- Tuchel worked with Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann at Augsburg
Kylian Mbappé is set to start for Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday as they take on RB Leipzig for a place in the Champions League final on Tuesday.
Mbappé came off the bench to set up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s injury-time winner as PSG dramatically came from behind to beat Atalanta in their quarter-final in Lisbon. The 21-year-old had been limited to the final 30 minutes after struggling with an ankle injury but now looks set for longer involvement.
“He [Mbappé] has had no reaction and [has] had six days since to work on fitness, so of course he can start,” the PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told the pre-match press conference. “We will decide after training whether he can play 90 minutes.”
Tuchel also offered praise to Neymar, who was instrumental in PSG’s late recovery last Wednesday against Atalanta and set up their last-minute equaliser. “Neymar has always been a leader, even when I arrived,” the German said. “He is showing confidence, courage, and that’s how a leader needs to act on the pitch.”
It is the first time PSG have reached the last four in 25 years, and the first time since their Qatari-backed takeover in 2011 saw the French club’s expectations and ambition swell. “We are here because we deserve it,” Tuchel added. “We played a great season and worked so hard, took every match seriously. We won’t talk about the past – only the present. We’re hungry for success.”
Tuchel will take on a Leipzig side managed by Julian Nagelsmann – and the 46-year-old can take some credit for his younger compatriot’s coaching success. In 2007, Nagelsmann was an Augsburg player struggling with constant injury problems – so Tuchel, then the Bavarian club’s reserve team coach, gave him a scouting assignment.
“Unfortunately, he [Nagelsmann] was always injured but I asked him if he could scout and help me. He did a great job and look what’s become of him.” The RB Leipzig manager later took up the story, saying: “I got paid as a player but I was injured … so I got the chance to scout and analyse the opponents. I never imagined back then I’d make it to a Champions League semi and play against him [Tuchel].”
Moving on to Tuesday’s contest at the Estádio da Luz, the 33-year-old said: “The players really have the will to win, we are hungry and I can see that in their faces. We were great against Atlético and now we have a chance against PSG. We want to take the next step and are ready for that.”