Belfast Telegraph

Playing Manchester United at Old Trafford is one of 'toughest challenges' in world football, says PSG boss Tuchel

By Simon Peach

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel admitted his side can no longer be considered clear favourites to beat Manchester United in their Champions League last-16 tie.

When the draw was made in December, few doubted the Ligue 1 leaders would get the better of a United side labouring under Jose Mourinho.

But since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as caretaker there has been something of a revolution at Old Trafford, while PSG arrived in Manchester with star strikers Neymar and Edinson Cavani sidelined by injury.

"Over 180 minutes I would say it's 50-50," Tuchel said through a translator. "Tomorrow, with them at home at Old Trafford, whether it's 50-50 I'm not sure but we have a second leg in Paris where we are strong.

"At this level it's the details. It could be a decision of a referee, a yellow or a red that can make the difference. It's a close game."

Tuchel said he never got as far as scouting Mourinho's United, but he is clear about the challenge posed by the Solskjaer version - still unbeaten with 10 wins from 11.

"They play with a lot of confidence, they score a lot of goals and get a lot of early leads," he said. "It's an impressive run. To play at Old Trafford in this moment against this Manchester United is one of the toughest challenges you can have."

And it is a challenge which only got harder for PSG at the weekend, when Cavani injured his hip after scoring in a 1-0 win over Bordeaux. Neymar has been missing since breaking a metatarsal on January 23.

"Would Man Utd miss (Paul) Pogba or (Marcus) Rashford? Of course," Tuchel said. "Neymar is one of our best players and one of the best players in Europe. We will miss him. And now Cavani."

But Tuchel said their absence should not change the way PSG play, particularly given they still have one of the best strikers in Europe in Kylian Mbappe.

"We're going to be missing a couple of key attackers, but you don't change your identity for that reason," Tuchel said. "We have a tradition, we play attacking football. It's in our DNA."

• Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has signed a pre-contract agreement with Juventus, the Serie A club have announced.

The Wales ace has agreed a four-year deal and will join the Italian champions in July.

Ramsey's future had been the subject of speculation for some time with his contract due to expire at the Emirates Stadium at the end of the current season.

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