Galtier credits Mbappe focus after 'very surprising' reports over PSG exit

By Sports Desk October 11, 2022

Christophe Galtier hailed the performance and focus of Kylian Mbappe against Benfica after "very surprising" reports emerged that the forward again wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe gave PSG the lead at Parc des Princes on Tuesday, converting from the penalty spot in the first half to become the club's leading scorer in the Champions League.

Joao Mario subsequently responded with a spot-kick of his own after the interval, though the result seemingly paled insignificance after reports suggested Mbappe had demanded an exit from PSG.

The World Cup-winning 23-year-old only signed a new three-year extension in May but has reportedly become unsettled once more after a failure to meet his demands both tactically and in recruitment.

PSG football advisor Luis Campos emphatically denied those reports by claiming Mbappe had not informed the club of such intentions, while head coach Galtier also expressed confusion over the speculation.

"We talked a lot about him this afternoon. I didn't talk about it with him, the objective is to stay focused on the match," Galtier told RMC Sport after PSG were held to a 1-1 draw in the Group H encounter.

"He gave a lot, he showed that he is a great player, focused on the game and the competition. We were all focused on the goal and on the match.

"From the rumour, we make information and from information, we make a statement. I find that very surprising a few hours before a very important match..."

Mbappe's goal was not enough to secure progression to the Champions League knockout stages, though Benfica and PSG sit four points clear of Juventus and Maccabi Haifa at the Group H summit.

PSG will aim to secure qualification with two games left to play, sitting level on eight points with Roger Schmidt's side, though Galtier may be concerned after having to withdraw Mbappe in the closing stages.

"He took a nasty tackle, he has a knock. I preferred to make sure to bring on a fresh player," Galtier added.

"We can regret the penalty we conceded because the action was not dangerous. We lacked verticality in the final third.

"We have played high-intensity matches, obviously that generates tiredness, but fatigue is in everyone, it's not an excuse."

The stalemate left Benfica winless in away six Champions League games against French sides (D3 L3), scoring just two goals in these six games, though the Portuguese side deserve credit.

Schmidt's men are the first team to avoid defeat in both group stage games in the competition against PSG since the Ligue 1 side were twice held by Napoli in the 2018-19 season.

"It makes me proud, of course. The way the players are playing in these difficult games, we never gave up, we always believed in ourselves," Schmidt told Eleven Sport.

"When you can't win, you have to take a point. I said it after the first game and I repeat it now. I think it was a fair result, again. Playing two games like this against Paris says a lot about the quality and attitude of the players."

Related items

  • 'We need to be the best Colombia to beat Argentina', Lorenzo acknowledges 'We need to be the best Colombia to beat Argentina', Lorenzo acknowledges

    Nestor Lorenzo acknowledged Colombia must be "the best version" of themselves if they are to beat Argentina in Sunday's Copa America final.

    Los Cafeteros are gearing for their first appearance in the tournament's showpiece since lifting the trophy on home soil in 2001.

    Lorenzo's side topped Group D ahead of Brazil with seven points from nine, before inflicting a 5-0 rout on Panama in the quarter-finals.

    Colombia then edged out Uruguay 1-0 in the semi-finals - despite playing over half the contest with 10 men following Daniel Munoz's dismissal - to stretch their unbeaten streak to a national record of 28 matches.

    Lorenzo is delighted by the way his players have overcome the different challenges presented to them en route to the final, where Argentina await.

    However, he knows they must produce a perfect performance if they are to dethrone the reigning Copa America and world champions.

    "We need to be the best Colombia, the best version, to beat Argentina, the champions of everything," Lorenzo told reporters during his pre-match press conference.

    "To win against Argentina, we have to be very well-prepared, because they are the champions, it will be a very demanding match," he added.

    "Every day, overcoming an obstacle means you grow, and we have had several games with these types of situations that made us reinvent ourselves in the game and the team reacted.

    "We are in a very good moment. I think the team still has room for improvement, and we hope to have a great performance tomorrow and take a step forward in that sense as well."

  • Messi hopes Di Maria signs off with 'another goal' in Copa America final Messi hopes Di Maria signs off with 'another goal' in Copa America final

    Lionel Messi hopes team-mate Angel Di Maria can sign off with "another goal" when Argentina face Colombia in Sunday's Copa America final.

    Di Maria announced in November that the tournament in the United States would mark the last time he represents his country, for whom he has earned 144 caps.

    The 36-year-old has played a crucial role in La Albiceleste's success in recent years, scoring the winner against Brazil in the 2021 Copa America final, while netting in the 2022 World Cup final victory over France.

    Di Maria, who also scored the only goal against Nigeria in the 2008 Olympic final, continues to demonstrate his importance for Lionel Scaloni's side, playing in four of their five games en route to their sixth Copa final in eight editions.

    And Messi wants his fellow winger to make one more vital contribution before bringing the curtain down on his illustrious international career.

    "Who knows? Maybe he'll score another goal in the final, like he did in all the previous ones he's played in. It would be extraordinary," the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner said in an interview with Direct TV Sports.

    "We always tell him that if everything goes well, we have World Cup qualifiers coming up. Nevertheless, 'Fideo' [Di Maria] has made up his mind and there's nothing that can change it."

    Should he appear in the final, Di Maria would join Javier Zanetti on 145 caps, behind only Messi (186) and Javier Mascherano (147) on Argentina's all-time list.

    Meanwhile, his tally of 31 goals is only bettered for La Albiceleste by Messi (109), Gabriel Batistuta (56), Sergio Aguero (41), Hernan Crespo (45) and Diego Maradona (34), and he knows he can retire from international duty with his head held high.

    "I'm not ready for my last game with the national team, but now it's time," an emotional Di Maria said.

    "A thousand things could happen [in the final], but I think that whatever happens, I can leave through the big door. I've done everything to be able to leave through that door.

    "I'll take a lot of trophies with me, but the people, team-mates and friends I'll take with me is something you can't buy with anything."

  • Blanc joins up with Benzema after being appointed Al-Ittihad head coach Blanc joins up with Benzema after being appointed Al-Ittihad head coach

    Laurent Blanc will be hoping to form a French connection with Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kante after his appointment as Al-Ittihad head coach.

    The Saudi Pro League champions confirmed the 58-year-old's arrival on Saturday, with Blanc signing a two-year contract and the club holding an option for a further year.

    Former France international Blanc was dismissed by Lyon in his last role, having stayed on for just under a year before his sacking came after losing three of four opening Ligue 1 matches in September 2023.

    The former centre-back, who has also managed Paris Saint-Germain, is expected to make Houssem Aouar the first signing of his reign.

    Aouar impressed for Lyon before earning a move to Roma, who are expected to part ways after just one season together following reports of a €12million deal plus add-ons.

    Midfielder Aouar played for France before switching allegiances to Algeria, and the Les Bleus connection is said to have played a significant role in his move in tandem with Blanc's appointment.

    Blanc also has fellow compatriots Benzema and Kante in his squad, as well as former Liverpool midfielder and Brazil international Fabinho.

    Al-Ittihad pipped Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr to the Saudi Pro League title last season, winning the competition for the first time in 15 years.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.