PSG coach Thomas Tuchel has announced that superstar Kylian Mbappé will play a role as his side look to get the better of Italian upstarts Atalanta in their Champions League quarter-final clash in Lisbon on Wednesday.
UEFA Champions League
Estadio da Luz, Lisbon
Atalanta - Paris Saint-Germain
- Kick-off at 21:00 CET
Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel made the announcement in Tuesday evening's pre-match press conference, sending the football world into a tizzy now that the world's fastest-rising star has sufficiently recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the Coupe de France final ahead of schedule.
"If Kylian has a good session on Tuesday and everything goes well, he will be in the squad on Wednesday," said Tuchel, who only had Mbappé return to full training on Sunday and thus will likely use him off the bench. "We are really pleased to have the possibility of finishing the match with Kylian on the pitch."
Nonetheless, having someone of Mbappé's calibre back on the team - and ready to race in behind Atalanta's high press - will do something to make up for the absences of Marco Verratti (calf), Angel Di Maria (suspension) and Layvin Kurzawa (thigh) as PSG contest this exceptional one-off quarter-final and look to book a first semi-final berth in 25 years.
Tuchel: 'With smiles on our faces'
"Atalanta are a special, very physical team, who have a very unique style and play one-on-one across the pitch," explained Tuchel. "They attack with seven players in the opposition's half. Playing against them is complicated, difficult. They score a lot of goals. It's therefore a huge challenge."
A challenge, yes, but not an insuperable one. The Paris Saint-Germain camp have been in fine spirits on their training camp in Faro in southern Portugal and morale has been sky-high in the wake of snaffling up the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue in the space of a week, thereby stitching up a domestic quadruple.
"We will need to put in a great performance. It will be a tactical match, but it will also be played in the head," said Tuchel, whose side showed just that kind of mental strength to get past Dortmund in the round of 16. "We will need to play with the same spirit that we have shown in training these past couple of days, a mix of concentration, a good ambiance and competition between the players. We will need to play with smiles on our faces."
Marquinhos: '90 minutes like warriors'
Tuchel is tipped to go with a 4-3-1-2 formation for the clash, with Neymar playing as a No10 behind Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia. In midfield, he is likely to have Marquinhos anchoring, with the industrious Idrissa Gueye partnered by either Ander Herrera (a more defensive option) or Leandro Paredes (a more attacking option).
Meanwhile Marquinhos is approaching the match in his typically competitive, high-octane fashion.
"I like this kind of match where you have to give your all, have the right strategy and not shy away from the battles," he said in the pre-match presser when asked what it's like to be playing a one-off match instead of two legs. "I think we are ready, the team is good. We will need to do everything to ensure that we have no regrets. We have 90 minutes to put in a good performance and obtain the right result. 90 minutes like warriors, 90 minutes during which we will need to give our all in order to win and secure a place in the semi-finals."
Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini will be without first-choice 'keeper Pierluigi Gollini - out for two months with a knee injury sustained on the final day of the Serie A season - while key Slovenian midfielder Josip Ilicic will be missing for personal reasons.
Paris Saint-Germain: Navas; Kehrer, Thiago Silva (c), Kimpembe, Bernat; Herrera, Marquinhos, Gueye; Neymar; Sarabia, Icardi.
Atalanta: Sportiello; Palomino, Tolói, Djimsiti; Hateboer, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Gomez, Malinovskyi; Zapata