We will still attack without Neymar and Cavani, says PSG’s Thomas Tuchel

Jamie Jackson on 11 February 2019

Thomas Tuchel has warned Manchester United that attacking play is in Paris Saint-Germain’s “DNA”, the manager insisting the absence of Neymar and Edinson Cavani will not alter their style.

The French champions meet United in Tuesday night’s Champions League last-16 first legat Old Trafford without two of their vaunted front three due to injury. Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, has a foot problem, Cavani a hip injury. This means extra onus on Kylian Mbappé, the third member of the attack.

Yet while PSG’s manager does not want to overburden the 20-year-old World Cup-winner, Tuchel wants his team to wrest the initiative from United.

“You can’t just place all the burden on him but we’re talking about Kylian Mbappé – he has his own qualities, it’s not really his job to replace Cavani and Neymar, and he can’t do all three things at the same time,” said Tuchel. “He has to play his game, to play with confidence and I want us to be capable to help him with the right kind of support, good passes. And, he needs to play with a good mindset, needs to be positive – it’s part of his development

“We have our identity as a team and it’s not easy to change a team’s identity. Obviously we’re missing a couple of key players but I don’t know if it’s the right time to change our ID. We play attacking football, we’re PSG, that’s what we’re used to – to create opportunities, it’s in our DNA.

“ To change that is really difficult but I’m sure there will be times where we will defend deeply.”

Tuchel was asked if Neymar’s absence is comparable to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo missing for Barcelona and Juventus, respectively.

“Let me put it in another way, will Manchester United miss [Paul] Pogba if he was not there tomorrow, or [Marcus] Rashford?” he said. “Of course they will, you cannot replace quality players like this, Neymar is one of the key players in Europe and we miss him a lot and now we miss a second key player with Edinson.”

Tuchel is expecting Ole Gunnar Solkjaer’s side United also to play on the front foot. “I imagine United will be very bold, play a lot of attack-minded players,” he said.

He would not be drawn on his ideal scoreline: “I don’t really want to talk about the result but we want to score perhaps more than one.”

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