The victory against Lille on Saturday was reassuring but the face of PSG which will appear in the round of 16 of the Champions League against Real Sociedad in four days remains uncertain.
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It is always more reassuring to bag a victory in the league before entering the final phase of the Champions League. Saturday February 10, PSG won while being convincing against Losc (3-1) thanks to a goal from Gonçalo Ramos (10e), an own goal from Alexsandro, deceived by a shot from Fabian Ruiz (17th), and a conclusion from Randal Kolo Muani (80th). Despite the satisfaction, many gray areas remain four days before the first major meeting of the season in the Champions League against Real Sociedad.
Will Kylian Mbappé really be 100%?
It is never reassuring to see the star player of a team not set foot on the pitch four days before such an important deadline, even more so within a club like PSG, traumatized by the eternal absences of its stars at this precise moment of the season. On Saturday, Kylian Mbappé sat on the bench and never took off his tracksuit or his hat. Spending 90 minutes on the bench is a first for him in five years.
“We didn’t want to take any risks, explained Luis Enrique at the microphone of Canal+. We could have done it, but it didn’t make sense. If it had been a final, of course he would have been there. It was necessary for him to have a great match.” Three days after Brest’s Lilian Brassier’s violent tackle on his ankle, Kylian Mbappé was simply preserved according to the Spanish coach. “Mbappé is doing very well physically, he will undoubtedly be available and 100% on Wednesday”he put a diaper back on at a press conference.
The fact remains that exactly a year ago, PSG faced Bayern Munich at the same stage of the Champions League competition without Kylian Mbappé in full possession of his means. The latter had even spent more than an hour on the bench. And the specter of last year’s early and disappointing elimination is not so far away.
Does Luis Enrique already have his team roster?
He obviously didn’t want to give the slightest clue. With his usual annoyance when faced with questions from journalists, the Spanish technician cut it short: “I decide the starters on the day of the match, after the last training session”. On Saturday, he carried out a large squad review, leaving potential starters on the bench at kick-off, such as Kylian Mbappé, but also Marquinhos, Warren Zaire-Emery, Bradley Barcola and even Gianluigi Donnarumma.
As for the first two, the decision was made to avoid aggravating injuries. For the rest, the coach assured he wanted “involve your whole group”. When he arrived, he warned that he was counting on “20 holders” and not just 11, preparing the public for frequent changes in team compositions.
His players delivered a successful collective performance against Lille, with intensity and constant pressing, like that of Ousmane Dembélé who brought the equalizer for Ramos (10e). “When you play matches every three days, the objective is to control the minutes, recalled Luis Enrique. We are very demanding and we want everyone to have their playing time. The attitude of the players is pleasing.” Both scorers, Gonçalo Ramos and Randal Kolo Muani have gained confidence. “We had a good performance, I’m proud of us, commented the Frenchman. It’s a very good test before Wednesday. We are getting closer to important moments, and we are working hard to respond.” From there to shaking up the attacking trio Dembélé-Mbappé-Barcola which has been taking shape for several weeks? Nothing is certain.
Is the Parisian defense ready?
At least one goal conceded in each of his last five outings. Less open to criticism than in its recent matches in many aspects, Paris Saint-Germain did not erase the impression that its defense was a little too permeable against Lille. The capital club conceded a goal in the sixth minute, on the opponent’s first attempt. And, at the end of the accounts, leaves with a goal taken for only three shots on target suffered.
Aligned from the start on the left flank, before returning to the axis later, Lucas Beraldo had a few complicated minutes, notably on the Lille goal… where Tiago Santos passed him without difficulty before Yusuf Yazici found the nets. As against Brest, the Parisian rearguard experienced some unpleasant cold sweats, which Manuel Ugarte and Nordi Mukiele wiped away at the end of the match. Despite this impression of occasional chaos, Luis Enrique estimated his defense “exceptional” Saturday, even with the long-term absences of Milan Skriniar, Presnel Kimpembe and Nuno Mendes.