Why struggling PSG will be forced to resort to ‘Plan D’ against Man Utd
Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted his depleted side will have to resort to “Plan D” in Tuesday night’s Champions League meeting with Manchester United .
With Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier among the regulars missing the trip to Old Trafford – by far PSG’s biggest test since they beat Liverpool in the group stage at the end of November – Tuchel conceded this would be a difficult start to the knockout round.
“Without Ney [Neymar] and Edi [Cavani], and possibly without Marco [Veratti], we have to take out our Plan D! I can’t really even think about it,” he told reporters over the weekend.
The French champions bounced back from a disastrous start to the month by beating Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
Victory, however, was expensive – coming at the cost of their record goalscorer Cavani, who hurt his thigh while striking the winning penalty.
Right-back Meunier also came off following a clash of heads and has been ruled out for the first leg at least.
Meanwhile, midfielder Marco Veratti was involved for the first time since suffering a serious ankle injury in January, but there is still doubt over how much of a part he’ll play on Tuesday.
That bittersweet result came after a week in which Neymar was written off until mid-April with a fractured metatarsal and PSG slumped to their first league defeat of the season, losing 2-1 down at Lyon.
And their boss is clear about the scale of his challenge against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resurgent side.
“You need your key players against Manchester United,” Tuchel said. “You need people who play with confidence, experience and quality, who are used to playing in these kinds of games, to controlling and managing the pressure.”
The latest blow for PSG is the news that reported Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur transfer target Adrien Rabiot – who it was hoped would be ready to come back in time to face the Red Devils – will not be playing in England just yet, having failed to pass fit for the matchday squad.
Nevertheless, Tuchel believes his team, who have the small matter of Kylian Mbappé at their disposal (as well as ex-Stoke City striker Maxim Choupo-Moting), will be up for the challenge, and has called on the Ligue 1 leaders to keep their cool.
“We have to stay calm and confident,” he said.
“If two or three key players aren’t there, it’s our responsibility to find solutions. On Tuesday, we will be ready.”