Mbappe injury blow for PSG with Man City second leg looming

By Sports Desk April 30, 2021

Kylian Mbappe will miss Paris Saint-Germain's game against Lens on Saturday due to a calf injury that could also rule him out of the Champions League trip to Manchester City.

Mbappe played the full game as PSG lost 2-1 to the Premier League leaders in the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday.

However, the France international – who did not have a shot against City, though he did create four chances – is not fit to feature against Lens in Ligue 1, denying him the chance to add to his tally of 25 goals in the competition this season.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino was vague in his response when asked about the chances of Mbappe returning in time to play at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

"Kylian has a problem with his right calf," Pochettino told the media. "We hope it is not serious and that he can be back with us as soon as possible.

"He is an important player for us and when you don’t have a key player, it always has an impact. But we have players in the squad who can do well and fill in for him.

"This will get us close to the victory that we want, which is the most important thing."

PSG led 1-0 at half-time against City, captain Marquinhos heading them in front in the 15th minute at Parc des Princes. However, Pep Guardiola's side hit back impressively after the break, turning the game around thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.

Despite the disappointing result, Pochettino insists the mood within the squad remains positive - and made clear the immediate focus is on the Ligue 1 title race, rather than the return meeting with City.

"After losing in the Champions League, the players want to be competing again to get over that bad feeling," Pochettino said.

"The players are doing well. We lost the first leg but are motivated and convinced that we can turn it around.

"With all respect to Manchester City, we will go there to play the game. The mood is good; we are motivated for the game tomorrow, which is the most important one."

Asked about the tactical approach for the second leg, he replied: "We want to reaffirm the positive things that we did in the first leg – and there were many of them. I think we have to analyse that.

"We did very well in the first half and were superior to City. We were in the second half as well, but after conceding two goals, which were tough blows for us to take, plus the sending off [of Idrissa Gueye], meant that we played with less players.

"The team remained mentally strong against a very good Manchester City team. In terms of tactics, we will be ready for a battle."

Related items

  • Courtois: We must protect Vinicius Courtois: We must protect Vinicius

    Thibaut Courtois declared Vinicius Jr needs to be protected after he was on the receiving end of a horrendous challenge from Gabriel Paulista on Thursday.

    The Brazilian defender kicked out at his compatriot, who had doubled Real Madrid's lead against Valencia to mark his 200th club appearance in style.

    Los Blancos emerged 2-0 victors at Santiago Bernabeu to edge closer to leaders Barcelona, yet it was the challenge on Vinicius that left the biggest impression.

    Courtois questioned why Vinicius was subject to such treatment, but praised the referee for taking the appropriate action.

    "I don't know why he was kicked in that way, we need to protect him," he told LaLigaTV.

    "He's a player who dribbles a lot, tries to go past defenders and defenders don't like it. It's the way he is as a player.

    "We need him to be that way, we need him to be like that against defenders.

    "He receives a lot of kicks and tonight I'm just happy the referee acted and had the bravery to give the red card. The ball is not there, there's no intent to get the ball.

    "Even if it was one of us had made that challenge then I would have said yes, it has to be a red card."

  • Benfica president Costa 'will not cry' for Fernandez after World Cup winner forced Chelsea move Benfica president Costa 'will not cry' for Fernandez after World Cup winner forced Chelsea move

    Benfica president Rui Costa has no regrets over sanctioning Enzo Fernandez's record-breaking move to Chelsea, saying the World Cup winner forced the transfer through his desire to leave.

    Chelsea made Fernandez the most expensive acquisition in Premier League history on the final day of the January transfer window, meeting the £106.8million (€121m) release clause in his Benfica contract.

    While Fernandez's arrival took Chelsea's spending to a reported £288.5m in January alone, the fee surpassed the £100m Manchester City spent to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in 2021.

    Benfica coach Roger Schmidt said Fernandez was unsettled by Chelsea's interest earlier in the month, and Costa admits the player's desire to leave left the Lisbon giants powerless.

    "Everything was done to ensure that Enzo was not sold. I have a clear conscience and I am as sad as any Benfica fan," Costa told BTV on Thursday.

    "We tried everything. Enzo has always shown a desire not to stay at Benfica.

    "As a fan, I no longer wanted Enzo as a player. As president, he could not continue. I decided he had to leave.

    "Commitment to Benfica is not beating your chest. In Arouca [a 3-0 win on Tuesday] we played without Enzo. 

    "We lost a great player, but I will not cry for a player who did not want to stay at Benfica. I was raised at Benfica, knowing how to honour Benfica.

    "Respecting Enzo, he is free to choose and the choice was not to stay at Benfica. At Benfica, there will only be players who are proud to be here."

    Costa questioned Fernandez's unwillingness to remain in Portugal until the end of the season, saying any suitors would have waited for the 22-year-old.

    "Was Enzo going to lose value until the end of the season at Benfica? No," he continued. 

    "We tried to show him that if he stayed at Benfica until the end of the season, Chelsea and others would appear."

    While the last-minute nature of Fernandez's exit left Benfica unable to sign a replacement, Costa was ultimately pleased with the structure of the deal.

    Asked about Fernandez's record-breaking fee, Costa said: "It's in instalments. The value of the clause doesn't have to be paid upfront.

    "We reached what we wanted and came out five million above the clause. It was not by chance that this deal ran out of time, we did everything to keep Enzo."

  • Nunez confident of replicating Suarez at Liverpool Nunez confident of replicating Suarez at Liverpool

    Darwin Nunez is confident he can follow in Luis Suarez's footsteps at Liverpool and explode in his second season.

    The Uruguay forward has struggled to find consistency since arriving at Anfield from Benfica in June, scoring in his opening two appearances but only managing eight goals in 23 since.

    Nunez's struggles in front of goal have come alongside Liverpool's own issues, with Jurgen Klopp's side languishing in ninth spot in the Premier League and out of both the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

    Though he recognises the problems he has encountered in the first half of his debut season in English football, Nunez identified Suarez's own slow start on Merseyside and feels he can bounce back in similar style.

    Former Ajax striker Suarez scored just 15 goals in 44 Premier League games in his first season-and-a-half at Liverpool, before hitting 54 in his next 66 prior to leaving for Barcelona in 2014.

    "Obviously, I still have many things to work on, for example my finishing. But I think the same thing is happening to me as happened to Suarez. In his second year, he tore it up," Nunez told Sky Sports.

    "Something similar happened to me already at Benfica. The first year went very badly for me and in the second, I exploded.

    "Here, I think the same thing is happening. I hope next season will be like that. I'll put my best forward and hopefully I'll get a bit of luck."

    In order to emulate Suarez, Nunez has regularly spoken to the man himself for advice and values the discussions with his compatriot.

    "Of course, it's always helpful to speak with Suarez. For me, he is an idol. He is a great example. In the national team, I now have a much better relationship with him," he added.

    "We are always talking and he is always giving me advice. I always try to keep in touch with him.

    "I ask him a lot of things because he was at this club and he has a lot more experience than me. He is an important player to give me advice and explain things to me."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.