Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann is preparing for “all scenarios” against Paris Saint-Germain, who will make a late decision on whether or not to use Kylian Mbappé.
France international Mbappé returned to training on Tuesday ahead of the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 at Parc des Princes.
The 24-year-old was initially ruled out of the game after suffering a hamstring injury against Montpellier on February 1 that was expected to sideline him for three weeks.
Although Mbappé has been included in PSG’s 22-man squad, Christophe Galtier said on Monday he will wait until game day 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 making an appearance.
“If they both play, then they are fit,” Nagelsmann said at his pre-game press conference. “Messi in particular is a player who knows how to play if he hasn’t trained much.
“I don’t know if Kylian Mbappé 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 task will be to be ready for Mbappé, whether or not he plays. We are generally prepared for different scenarios, but the game will not depend on that alone.”
“We should not make the mistake of focusing only on the superstars. But PSG are also concerned about how we can stop our players.”
Mbappé has scored 34 times and provided 23 assists in 50 Champions League games since his PSG debut in 2017 – no other player has scored 20 goals and 20 assists in that time.
PSG have struggled in the superstar’s absence, following a shock Coup de France defeat to Marseille with a defeat to Monaco in the league.
Bayern, meanwhile, have responded to a slow start to 2023 with three consecutive wins, but whether this season is considered a success will depend on how they perform in Europe.
“I would like to progress. In knockout competitions, progress is always important,” said Nagelsmann. “You don’t have many chances in the Champions League.
“All teams want to win the Champions League. It is one of my dreams to win the Champions League. It is an important game for Bayern and an important game for me.”
“Of course a season is valued differently when you get far in the Champions League.”
Bayern have won five of their previous 11 encounters with PSG, each in the Champions League, while the Ligue 1 giants have triumphed six times.
In a replay of the 2019-20 Champions League final, in which Bayern won 1-0, Nagelsmann insists that there is nothing separating the reigning champions of Germany and France.
“It will be an equal game, a 50-50 game,” said the Bayern boss. “It is not a do-or-die game at the moment, but we will try to put in a good performance.
“The Champions League provides a completely different kind of motivation, so you don’t have to get the players extra hot before the game.”
Since the start of the 2019-2020 season, Bayern has the highest winning percentage (86.5 percent) and the most wins (32) of any team in the Champions League.
Despite having played 37 games in the league in that span, no team has lost fewer games than them (two).