PSG rely on Mbappe score ahead of Lyon game
Paris Saint-Germain’s confidence in Kylian Mbappe keeps growing the more he scores.
This was further illustrated when he scored a hat trick in the Coupe de France on Monday night.
It was against modest amateur team Vannes, but the quality of their finishing stood out regardless and took their tally this season to 18 goals in 25 games.
The trip to Lyon on Sunday in the league is likely to prove more difficult for Mbappe, given how difficult it was to beat Lyon in September. PSG needed a header from Mauro Icardi in the final seconds of added time in this game.
Lyon dominated the spells and often gives PSG a tough game at home.
Lyon occupy a modest 13th place, but PSG’s form has been uneven. Because although Mauricio Pochettino’s side reached the mid-season break with a 13-point lead, it was much more difficult than it looks.
PSG have won just two of their last five games and needed last-minute equalizers against Lens and 19th-placed Lorient before the winter break.
In 19 matches, PSG have scored 12 times after the 80th minute to underline how individual talent – combined with a strong bench that includes Icardi and Copa America winner Angel Di Maria – has made the difference more than a awesome teamwork.
With Neymar injured with a sprained ankle and seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi scoring just once in 11 league appearances, coach Mauricio Pochettino needs Mbappe at his best.
The star of France’s 2018 World Cup triumph has nine goals and eight assists in the league. He maintains the superb form he showed throughout last season, when he scored a career-high 42 goals in all competitions.
No wonder PSG are desperate for Mbappe to sign a new contract and not leave for free at the end of the season.
But while Pochettino waits to see what Mbappe decides, he can be satisfied with what else he saw against Vannes: impressive performances from 18-year-old midfielders Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut.
Simons ran well and stood out with his technical poise and dribbling ability. He cleverly linked up with European Championship winner Marco Verratti to score Mbappe’s second goal against Vannes.
Although Simons is Dutch, he has a Spanish-sounding first name.
It may not be a coincidence.
For as Simons emerged in the youth ranks of Spanish giants Barcelona, Xavi Hernandez reigned supreme in midfield during his era of glory under coach Pep Guardiola and alongside Messi. Simons joined PSG two years ago and is shaping up to be a major talent.
He has more pace and athleticism than svelte Frenchman Michut, who displayed poise on the ball and deft technique.
Pochettino gave them both a chance and they took it.
Former PSG coaches have been criticized for neglecting the club’s young talents and letting them go too soon. Topping a long list of players are Bayern Munich star winger Kingsley Coman and Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who both played for France at Euro 2020.
Coman, who scored Bayern Munich’s winning goal against PSG in the 2020 Champions League final, came through the club’s academy to join Juventus aged 18 after just four appearances.
Even before that, something was unusual about the way the club recruited because Mbappe – who grew up in the Paris suburb of Bondy – went to Monaco before being signed by PSG for 180 million euros (204 million of dollars).
And French great Thierry Henry grew up in the south-west suburb of Les Ulis but moved to Monaco when he was 15.
World Cup winners Paul Pogba (Manchester United) and N’Golo Kante (Chelsea); Premier League winner Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) and Anthony Martial (United) are all Parisians who have never played for the club. Nicolas Anelka broke through but the lightning-fast striker was sold to Arsenal in the Premier League aged 17.
Now Simons and Michut have a chance to assert their rights.
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