Thomas Tuchel coy on Neymar return for PSG vs. Dortmund
Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has opened the door to the possibility that Neymar misses next week’s Champions League round of 16 first leg clash with Borussia Dortmund.
Speaking with Eurosport after the French giants thrashed fellow Ligue 1 outfit Dijon 6-1 away in the Coupe de France quarterfinals, Tuchel was unable to guarantee the Brazil international’s availability because of his current rib injury.
“We must decide with each match,” said Tuchel. “I cannot yet say if Neymar can play 100%, but the risk lessens by the day.
“I do not know if he will be there [on Saturday vs. Amiens], we need to discuss it. We will decide on Friday. We have to leave it late.
“If it was up to me only, Neymar would always play. However, it is simply not possible — we must be attentive, and we cannot risk the health of any player. We have a responsibility.
“We will decide with everyone for Saturday — the club, the medical staff and him. It is a medical decision as the risk is too big.”
Asked about the Spaniard post-match, Tuchel was delighted with the former Sevilla man’s current form — particularly in the domestic cup competitions.
“Pablo is in great form,” he said. “It is good and necessary when you reach February and March — absolutely vital.
“I have been very happy for weeks as he keeps gaining in confidence, ability and quality — always, always, always. Now I feel like he is used to playing for us in this style and he really knows how to help us.
“I get the impression that he is playing with confidence, showing his quality, and is decisive — he is in great shape.”
While Sarabia’s hot form continued, Edinson Cavani was unable at Stade Gaston-Gerard — although what would have been his 200th PSG strike was disallowed for a handball in the build-up.
“If Edinson can get his 200th goal in Dortmund, then no problem,” said Tuchel before joking, “he could even reach 300 this season — no problem!”
Presnel Kimpembe is a bit more of a risk for next week than the two midfielders and Angel Di Maria preferred to play against Amiens to be ready for the trip to Germany.
Speaking with Eurosport post-match, Thomas Meunier admitted that he and his Belgium teammates on Dortmund have already started to talk up next week’s clash.
“Yes, Thorgan [Hazard], Axel [Witsel] and I have spoken a bit about it,” he confirmed. “I messaged Axel after the recent loss to Leverkusen and asked him if they are ready. He told me ‘more than ever,’ so there is an added motivation for them too.”