Football

PSG: Kylian Mbappe gets Classique backing from Thomas Tuchel



The forward drew a rare blank against Napoli in midweek but his manager has backed him to tackle a white-hot atmosphere in Marseille

Thomas Tuchel expects Kylian Mbappe to thrive under the pressure of Paris Saint-Germain’s Classique showdown at Marseille.

Mbappe has scored 13 times in 12 appearances for club and country this season but the France star cut a frustrated figure as he struggled throughout PSG’s uneven 2-2 Champions League draw with Napoli in midweek.

However, Tuchel has no intention of taking the 19-year-old out of the firing line for Sunday’s keenly anticipated derby clash, where PSG will aim to make it 11 consecutive wins in France’s top flight this season.

“These players with this quality, they like to play and they need this stage to show up and prove their qualities,” Tuchel told a pre-match news conference after confirming captain Thiago Silva will again be sidelined this weekend due to a hamstring problem.

“Players like Kylian are not players who can train for too much of a long time. It’s not possible, in my opinion, when you are at Champions League level that you don’t play Champions League – you play on Saturday and train a whole week, you play Saturday.

“It brings out the best in them when they are on the biggest stage. They need the games to perform, to learn and to adapt.

“He can adapt in many things. He has exceptional qualities and space to improve in finishing, in timing, in defending, in finding space, in comprehension of the game. There is a lot to improve.”

PSG’s form in Europe is at odds with their domestic mastery, having taking four points from their opening three Champions League outings.

Marseille were beaten 3-1 by Lazio in the Europa League on Thursday – a competition they reached the final of last season – but Tuchel expects such continental struggles to have little bearing upon the latest instalment of French football’s most ferocious rivalry.

“I’m not too concerned about how Marseille have played so far because tomorrow [Sunday] will be very, very different for them,” he said.

“They have a great opportunity to come out of a situation that maybe feels a bit difficult for them in the league. After a defeat in the Europa League they face a situation where they can turn everything around.

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“I have faced enough situations like this to know it is nothing to do with the games before for Marseille. We have a lot of respect for their quality and their team. They were in the final of the Europa League last season.”

Concerns over fan violence mean PSG supporters have been barred from the Stade Velodrome for the fourth time in as many seasons and Tuchel added: “It’s sad our supporters will not be there, but it’s like this.

“We must be calm, because I believe you are strong when you are calm in games like this where there is an overload of emotions.”



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