Thomas Tuchel joked Marco Verratti’s eating habits must have changed as he tried to explain the midfielder’s recent scoring spree after his depleted Paris Saint-Germain side reached the Coupe de France final with a 3-0 win over Nantes.
A PSG side shorn of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Thomas Meunier reached their fifth successive Coupe de France final – where they will meet Rennes – courtesy of Verratti’s first-half strike, Kylian Mbappe’s penalty and Dani Alves’ late goal.
Prior to last week, Verratti had gone 58 games without a goal but he followed up scoring in Italy’s 6-0 win over Liechtenstein by firing home from the edge of the box at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
“I am not sure what is going on with him,” Tuchel told reporters at a news conference of Verratti’s sudden purple patch.
“Perhaps he ate something while on international duty!
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 3, 2019
“It was necessary today because we lack offensive players.
“I am very happy, normally he always looks for the pass or to offer a decisive pass.”
PSG, who are 20 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, did not have it all their own way on Wednesday, Mbappe seeing a retaken penalty saved by Nantes goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu before he eventually converted another spot-kick five minutes from time, while Marquinhos was forced off with a first-half injury.
He joins PSG’s growing injury list and while Neymar returned to training on Wednesday, Tuchel was quick to stress just how stretched his side are.
“It’s horrible,” he said.
RDV au Stade de France.
Belle mentalité du groupe, important de continuer avec plaisir et détermination parce qu’il y’a des trophées à la clé…
Grosse force à toi mon ami @marquinhos_m5 tu reviendras plus fort
ICI C’EST PARIS pic.twitter.com/2YWHxYHR7d
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) April 3, 2019
“We miss a lot of key players and even like that we win every three days and we work hard, it’s exceptional.
“But it’s impossible to manage the minutes of guys. Players are too used and it is a risk to play them.”
It has been reported that Tuchel will be given a contract extension by PSG, even after they threw away a two-goal first-leg lead in the Champions League when knocked out by Manchester United in the last 16.
Asked about a fresh deal, Tuchel replied with a smile: “I cannot confirm anything, you will have to wait!”
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