Soccer-PSG to focus on countering Man United counter attacks
By Julien Pretot
PARIS, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Paris St Germain will concentrate on combating Manchester United's counter attacks in their Champions League opener on Tuesday, 18 months after a heart-breaking elimination by the English side in Europe's premier club competition.
PSG wasted a two-goal first-leg lead in a 3-1 home defeat by United at the last 16 stage in 2019 but this year reached the final before losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in August.
Coach Thomas Tuchel warned that previous achievements would mean nothing on Tuesday at the Parc des Princes, where PSG's all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani could debut for the visitors.
"Last season is over, and we're a different team now. My challenge is to create a good atmosphere in a tight-knit squad," Tuchel told a news conference before the Group H clash.
While United have already conceded 12 goals in four Premier League games this season, which seems to make them vulnerable to the attacking power of PSG's Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria, Tuchel has set his side's priorities.
"They have made many changes - to the 2018-19 team - they brought in new players with more confidence and more experience," the German coach said.
"Paul Pogba is a key player, one of the best midfielders in the world. It's key to stop him, and also to stop Bruno Fernandes. He plays with three very fast forwards.
"They're one of the best teams in Europe in terms of attack and transitions. It's key to stop them before they start their counter attacks."
PSG will not have it easy as they are without injured midfielders Marco Verratti and Argentine Leandro Paredes, with the Italian out of action for three weeks with a thigh problem.
Tuchel also hopes Uruguay striker Cavani, 33, does not show the sort of form he displayed in seven seasons at PSG where he scored a club record 200 goals.
"He wrote the club's history but it's going to be weird that he plays against us at the Parc with another club, but it's not us against him or him against us, not at all," added Tuchel.
"It is very difficult to defend against him. He is a player with fantastic quality. Tomorrow it's not necessary that he proves me right."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)