Nagelsmann ‘preparing for all scenarios’ with Mbappe in line for PSG return
Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann is “preparing for all scenarios” against Paris Saint-Germain, who will make a late decision on whether to field Kylian Mbappe.
France international Mbappe returned to training on the eve of Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg at the Parc des Princes.
The 24-year-old had initially been ruled out of the match after sustaining a hamstring injury against Montpellier on February 1 that was expected to sideline him for three weeks.
While Mbappe has been included in PSG’s 22-man squad, Christophe Galtier said on Monday he will wait until the day of the game before making a decision on his involvement.
Lionel Messi is also not fully fit, having sat out Saturday’s Ligue 1 defeat to Monaco, but Nagelsmann is preparing for the possibility of both players featuring.
“If they both play, then they’ll be fit,” Nagelsmann said at his pre-match press conference. “Messi in particular is a player who knows how to play when he hasn’t trained a lot.
“I don’t know if Kylian Mbappe will play from the start. We will prepare for all scenarios. Both can hurt any team in the world. But we will be ready.
“Our job will be to be ready for Mbappe, too, no matter whether he plays. We are generally prepared for different scenarios, but the game will not depend on that alone.
“We mustn’t make the mistake of only focusing on the superstars. But PSG are also concerned about how to stop our players as well.”
Mbappe has scored 34 and assisted 23 in 50 Champions League appearances since his PSG debut in 2017 – no other players has managed 20 goals and 20 assists in that time.
PSG have struggled in the superstar forward’s absence, having followed up a shock Coupe de France loss against Marseille with defeat to Monaco in the league.
Bayern have responded to a slow start to 2023 with three straight wins, meanwhile, but whether this season is deemed a success will come down to how they perform in Europe.
“I would like to progress. In knockout games, progressing is always important,” Nagelsmann said. “You don’t have many chances in the Champions League.
“All teams want to win the Champions League. It’s one of my dreams to win the Champions League. It’s an important game for Bayern and an important game for me.
“Of course, a season is rated differently when you get far in the Champions League.”
Bayern have won five of their previous 11 meetings with PSG, each of those coming in the Champions League, while the Ligue 1 giants have prevailed six times.
In a repeat of the 2019-20 Champions League final, which Bayern edged 1-0, Nagelsmann insists there is nothing to separate the reigning champions of Germany and France.
“It will be an even duel, a 50-50 game,” the Bayern boss said. “It’s not a do-or-die game at this point, but we’ll try to put in a good away performance.
“The Champions League provides a completely different kind of motivation, so you don’t have to make the players extra hot ahead of the game.”
Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Bayern have the highest win percentage (86.5 per cent) and the most total victories (32) of any team in the Champions League.
Indeed, despite playing 37 matches in the competition during that period, no team have lost fewer games than them (two).