Mauricio Pochettino believes his fresh perspective means Paris Saint-Germain’s latest Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich is not a revenge mission.
Bayern beat PSG 1-0 in last season’s final, Paris-born Kingsley Coman getting the only goal in Lisbon.
Since then Pochettino has succeeded Thomas Tuchel as head coach of the capital club and, as such, he views Wednesday’s quarter-final first-leg encounter at the Allianz Arena with a certain level of detachment.
“No, it’s not a benchmark match for us,” Pochettino told a pre-match news conference. “We weren’t there with my staff, we were just spectators. In addition, it’s over two matches that it’s going to be played, the context is different.
“Sporting revenge still exists, but for us it’s more of a challenge to beat such a strong team, maybe the best in the world.”
Even their most ardent supporters would struggle to apply such a label to PSG at present after a 1-0 weekend loss to leaders Lille left them facing an uphill battle to retain their Ligue 1 title.
Neymar, sent off during that frustrating Parc des Princes encounter, is available to line up alongside Kylian Mbappe once more and the star forwards will hope to exploit Bayern’s high line to a greater extent than they managed in last August’s showpiece.
PSG’s capacity to create for Neymar and Mbappe will be compromised by Marco Verratti’s absence after the Italy midfielder returned a second postiive COVID-19 test this season.
“Each team has its characteristics, Bayern are a well-organised team with a high defensive line,” Pochettino said.
“Their attacking players can throw opponents off balance and make a difference. It’s up to us to make sure we don’t lose the ball in dangerous areas.”