Scouting report: Why it was a mixed night for PSG
Our upcoming UEFA Champions League opponents, Paris Saint-Germain, endured a longer than expected workout on Wednesday evening when they required extra time to beat lowly Villefranche 3-0 in the Coupe de France last 16.
PSG’s opposition are facing a relegation battle in National 1 this season, but the minnows surprisingly managed to frustrate the dominant Ligue 1 leaders by holding them to a 0-0 draw in normal time at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium.
Thomas Tuchel had named Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani on the bench for the cup tie, but the German manager was reluctantly forced to throw his star strikers into the action in the second half.
Former Borussia Dortmund boss Tuchel was also sent off to the stand for persistently complaining to the referee, but he was soon relieved when his compatriot Julian Draxler finally broke the deadlock in the 102nd minute. Moussa Diaby and Cavani then secured the win with two goals in six extra-time minutes.
PSG are now through to the quarter-finals of a competition that they have impressively won four times in the previous five seasons.
FULL TIME: @FCVB_officiel 0️ @PSG_English 3️— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) February 6, 2019
Incredible effort from the hosts to keep Paris at bay well into extra-time. Thomas Tuchel's men were able to break them down and it's the Rouge et Bleu who progress to the next round! pic.twitter.com/1SoKAjJuXy
TUCHEL HANDED OUT A DEBUT
PSG signed Leandro Paredes from Zenit Saint Petersburg in January for a reported fee of £35million, and the 24-year-old Argentina midfielder made a first appearance for his new club on Wednesday.
Wearing the no.8 shirt, Tuchel’s new acquisition almost scored with a couple of first-half free-kicks and otherwise enjoyed a straightforward night against the unfancied Villefranche side.
“It was a good opportunity to play Leandro for 60 or 70 minutes and, ultimately, he went the full 120,
“ said Tuchel. ”Obviously, this will have consequences. As he played 120 minutes here, I am not sure if he will be able to play for much more than an hour against Bordeaux this weekend.
“Leandro played well. He was very reliable in the middle. He never lost the ball, showed his quality with some passes and was creative. It was not easy, but he showed his quality here.”
Due to Zenit’s participation in the UEFA Europa League this season, Paredes is available to play in the Champions League and could feature against us.
A SIGNIFICANT INJURY BLOW
Tuchel also revealed that Marco Verratti was unable to make his comeback from a sprained ankle because of a new injury problem.
Speaking after the final whistle at the Groupama Stadium, Tuchel explained the bad news about Verratti - just days after the Italy international had returned to training following the ankle sprain he sustained last month.
“Marco was unable to finish training on Tuesday,” said the manager.
“He had problems and I have to wait until Thursday to be able to take a decision over playing him against Bordeaux. Marco's new issue is something else (not the same ankle), but I do not really know much more.”
WHAT'S NEXT FOR PSG?
The French champions are back in Ligue 1 action against Bordeaux on Saturday at 16:00 GMT, hoping to return to winning ways in the top flight following their 2-1 defeat at Lyon last weekend.
As they currently hold a comfortable 10-point lead at the top of the table, it will be interesting to see what type of starting XI manager Tuchel names against their 12th-placed opponent.
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