Mauricio Pochettino couldn’t blame the defeat Paris Saint Germain suffered at the hands of Manchester City on the absence of the club’s talisman Kylian Mbappe who was not fit enough to play the semi-final game.
Kylian Mbappe was present in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final round which was played at Parc Des Princes and he couldn’t do much in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.
However, he has the antecedent of pulling off miracles in games as big as the PSG vs Manchester City second leg tie on Tuesday which his team lost 2-0 to end their journey in this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign.
Recall that Kylian Mbappe was the star player when PSG knocked out Spanish La Liga giants FC Barcelona in the round of 16 stage of the competition this season. He was also the talisman when the French champions knocked out Bayern Munich in the quarter-final stage which made them one of the favorites to win the title.
However, his magic was not felt against a well set up and determined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on April 28. Unfortunately for him, he sustained a calf injury which did not give him another opportunity to prove himself against City.
After Manchester City ended the journey of PSG in the semi-final stage of the competition on Tuesday, May 4, coach Mauricio Pochettino says the absence of the France international was not an excuse for their defeat.
Instead, the Argentine technician went on to praise the clinical attacking prowess of Manchester City which was good enough to force PSG out of the competition 4-1 on aggregate.
“That [Mbappe’s absence] cannot be an excuse,” added Pochettino, a Champions League finalist with Tottenham in 2019.
“We are a team. Of course, it’s unlucky he was not ready to help the team, but that’s not an excuse. We cannot use that excuse because the performance of the team was good.
“We played the game we planned to play. We started really well, creating chances and dominating Manchester City. That’s not easy.
“Sometimes in football you need a percentage of luck in some periods of the game. They scored from a situation where we were pressing high, with a long ball.
“The players will all feel disappointed. We did well. The plan, the game were good. In this type of game, you need luck to go your way…
“We played the game we planned to play. We started really well, creating chances and dominating Manchester City. That’s not easy. Not many teams can dominate a team like Manchester City.
“Sometimes in football you need a percentage of luck in some periods of the game. In the end, they were clinical. They scored from a situation where we were pressing high, with a long ball.
“I need to congratulate Manchester City because they are having a fantastic season. After six or seven seasons of working, Pep is doing well. At the same time, we feel proud of our players and our team.”
“They were clinical. I congratulate Manchester City, they’re having a fantastic season.”
12 – Mauricio Pochettino has lost more games against Pep Guardiola than he has vs any other manager in his career (12). Pep Guardiola’s total of 12 wins vs Pochettino is his joint-most against a manager in his career as a top-flight boss (level with Pellegrini & Dyche). Thorn. pic.twitter.com/9GRDfjpJsm— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 4, 2021
As Mauricio Pochettino is nursing the wound of not being able to introduce Mbappe into the game, one of his star players, Angel Di Maria was red-carded in the 69th minute of the return leg when the team was already suffering a 2-0 deficit.
“With the red card of Di Maria, that changed the feeling”, said Mauricio Pochettino who became the coach of the club in December 2020 after the sacking of the club’s former coach Thomas Tuchel.
“It was difficult for the team and we were open. But the team always fight – that is why I am proud of my players.
“That is the most important thing. We were alive. Of course, I am disappointed. I am not going to lie and say we are positive.”
As it stands, Manchester City will face either Chelsea or Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League on May 29 at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey.