Kylian Mbappe was substituted at half-time as runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain were held to a goalless draw at his former club Monaco.

France star Mbappe, who is set leave PSG in the summer, waved to home supporters at Stade Louis II as he emerged from the tunnel to take a seat in the stands for the second period.

The 25-year-old forward had little impact on the opening 45 minutes and it was unclear whether his premature departure was due to an injury.

He was pictured grimacing and holding his right leg at one stage.

Mbappe was also withdrawn by head coach Luis Enrique 25 minutes from time in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Rennes.

PSG were indebted to a string of first-half saves from goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in securing a stalemate which extends their lead over second-placed Brest to 12 points.

Monaco, who also hit the crossbar through Wissam Ben Yedder in the second half, remain third, a point behind Brest.

Yet the major talking point centred on PSG captain Mbappe, who opted against sitting alongside team-mates after being replaced by Randal Kolo Muani.

The reigning French champions arrived in the principality seeking to return to winning ways having required a last-gasp Goncalo Ramos penalty to salvage a point at home to Rennes five days ago.

Enrique’s side were second best for much of the opening period.

Impressive Italy international Donnarumma repelled former Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun early on before producing two fine saves to deny ex-Liverpool man Takumi Minamino.

PSG also survived a major scare in the 25th minute when the hosts had the ball in the net. Monaco captain Ben Yedder coolly rounded Donnarumma and rolled home after the lively Balogun caused problems for the visitors’ defence, only to be flagged offside.

Marco Asensio, who limped off injured before the break, had PSG’s best chance of the first half but he directed his effort too close to Monaco keeper Radoslaw Majecki.

Following the headline-grabbing scenes of Mbappe walking around the stadium’s running track to take up position among the crowd, PSG actually looked a greater threat.

However, they narrowly escaped just before the hour mark when Ben Yedder cracked the woodwork with a sizzling volley.

Poland international Majecki was busier in the second period and produced a strong save to deny PSG midfielder Vitinha.

Despite applying sustained late pressure, the away team could not snatch victory as they switch focus to their Champions League last-16 second leg at Real Sociedad amid question marks over Mbappe.

Paris St Germain coach Luis Enrique insists they will have a better team next season even after the expected departure of star forward Kylian Mbappe.

It is understood the 25-year-old France international, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has told the club he wants to join Real Madrid this summer, a move which has been touted for a number of years.

“It doesn’t cross my mind that the team will be weaker next season. I’m absolutely sure,” Enrique told a press conference ahead of Friday’s match against Mbappe’s former club Monaco.

“If everything goes well, I think and I’m convinced that we’ll have a better team next season.

“Me, I always want to try to improve the team and I think there is always a way to improve.”

PSG, who have an 11-point advantage at the top over Brest, have lost just once in Ligue 1 this season – back in September and are on course for a 10th title in the last 12 years.

“I am very happy with all the efforts we made, with the results we obtained,” added Enrique.

“We are following a very good trajectory. Now we are entering a difficult period, the key period, the best of the season.

“It’s all or nothing, and it’s a feeling we love. We have to continue to be true to our idea, to what got us here, to try to dominate the matches from the start.

“We don’t need to improve the general idea, but we need to improve the details.”

While Monaco are currently third they are 13 points behind and have lost six times this season, including four at home.

“Monaco are one of the best teams in the league and a direct competitor of ours in the title race,” said the PSG boss.

“We know that we’ve got a tough game ahead of us tomorrow, so we’ll put out a highly competitive side.”

Paris St Germain coach Luis Enrique has warned his side’s commanding advantage at the top of Ligue 1 could begin to work against them in the second half of the season.

PSG began the weekend 13 points clear of second-placed Brest before the latter’s trip to Strasbourg on Saturday evening, well on course to secure a third consecutive league title.

But Enrique is wary of the size of the lead his side hold going into their match at home to Rennes on Sunday, admitting a little more pressure from their domestic opponents might keep them sharper as they look to go deep in this season’s Champions League.

“We’re very happy with the distance between us and second place,” Enrique said. “It’s something we have to fight against for a lot of weeks. It’s perhaps a handicap that we need to control. Our aim is to win matches and win all the competitions we take part in.

“Obviously, if we had an opponent closer to us in the league table, we might be a little more prepared and the players would prepare themselves more spontaneously. In any case, you have to be a little more motivated. We can do it very well.

“We’re the most consistent team in the league. But now we’ve got the last third of the season coming up and we need to perform well in all competitions. There are a lot of good tests coming up. It’s going to be very difficult on Sunday and this match will help us prepare for the matches that follow.”

PSG have won their last five matches in all competitions and are on an 18-match unbeaten run that dates back to the 2-1 defeat to AC Milan in November.

“It’s always positive to have a good run of results,” Enrique added. “But the coach always has to make sure it doesn’t get complicated. It’s good to have good momentum, but you mustn’t let up.

“That’s what I fight for every week, in training and when preparing for matches. Good results also mean that you have to stay focused, both in matches and in training.”

Rennes, seventh in Ligue 1, are enjoying some superb form themselves. Julien Stephan’s side have won 10 of their last 11 games, with the exception being a Europa League defeat, also against Milan.

Rennes lost the first leg of their tie against the Italians 3-0, meaning that Thursday’s 3-2 victory was not enough to keep them in the competition.

Speaking after that match, Stephan said: “Disappointment or satisfaction? Pride wins out…It’s a great source of pride to have won against Milan. Even if it’s difficult to compare eras, it’s probably the most prestigious victory in the European history of Rennes, so we have to appreciate that.”

Kylian Mbappe stepped off the bench to convert a penalty as Paris St Germain won 2-0 at Nantes to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 14 points.

Mbappe, who told PSG on Friday of his intention to leave in the summer when his contract expires, struck his 21st league goal of the season from the spot after Lucas Hernandez had given his side a second-half lead.

Amid mounting speculation that Mbappe will join Real Madrid in time for next season, the 25-year-old, along with Ousmane Dembele and Achraf Hakimi, were left out of Luis Enrique’s starting line-up.

Mbappe, who started and scored in PSG’s 2-0 win against Real Sociedad in Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 tie, was in dispute with his club over his contract last summer.

The France forward refused to sign a one-year extension clause and was subsequently exiled from the first-team squad, and left out of their pre-season tour to Asia.

But he was all smiles with boss Enrique as he waited to enter the action at the Stade de la Beaujoire just after Hernandez had broken the deadlock, and was handed the captain’s armband after going on.

At the end of a first half of few clear-cut chances, Nantes twice went close and had a goal ruled out for offside.

Hernandez’s last-ditch tackle thwarted Douglas Augusto and was deemed legitimate by VAR before Marquinhos blocked Nicolas Cozza’s shot after Gianluigi Donnarumma had saved Mostafa Mohamed’s effort.

Nantes thought they had broken the deadlock when defender Nicolas Pallois turned home a corner, but his effort was ruled out by the referee assistant’s flag.

Pallois’ dipping 30-yard volley was comfortably saved by Donnarumma early in the second half and PSG took the lead on the hour-mark through Hernandez’s deflected shot.

Mbappe, Dembele and Hakimi were all sent on by Enrique straight after Hernandez’s opener and the visitors put the result beyond Nantes with 12 minutes remaining.

Augusto tripped Mbappe in the penalty area and the France forward picked himself up to slam home the spot kick for his 26th goal in 28 appearances for his club in all competitions this season.

Nantes went close to a late consolation goal when Donnarumma pushed substitute Moses Simon’s effort on to a post as PSG extended their unbeaten league run to 17 matches.

Paris St Germain boss Luis Enrique has warned against complacency when they travel to third-tier Orleans in the last 16 of the Coupe de France.

Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick helped PSG thrash amateurs Revel 9-0 in the last round.

With Enrique’s men sitting eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1, another convincing victory is expected when they travel to the Stade de La Source on Saturday night.

Enrique, though, insisted his squad – set to be without injured goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who picked up a knee problem against Lens last weekend – will have to stay fully focused to avoid suffering a shock result.

“We have analysed a team which plays two divisions below us, they are a professional team,” Enrique said.

“Even if they are in difficulty in the (National) Championship, they were able to get through the rounds in the Coupe de France, beating teams ranked higher than them.

“It is different from what we encountered against Revel. Orleans are a well-structured team. They play with a back five and take up good spaces, they are capable of countering with strong attackers.

“It is a dangerous competition for the favourites because in normal conditions, over 90 minutes, you can be knocked out. But we are approaching the Coupe de France with a lot of seriousness and a lot of desire.”

With goalkeeper Alexandre Letellier slowly getting back to training after a viral infection, Enrique was giving little away about who would start on Saturday.

Defender ⁠Manuel Ugarte will not not feature after sustaining a slight thigh injury against Lens.

Enrique has some concerns over what state the playing surface will be in at the Stade de La Source.

“It’s the only thing that really concerns me beyond the competition,” he said.

“I hope the pitch will be in a good state, not just in terms of playing good football.

“I am concerned about the health of the players, mine and those of Orleans.”

Enrique added: “If it were normal circumstances, yes, it would be a case of rotating and involving young players because we want to give them a chance.

“But bearing in mind the circumstances of this match, the experience of playing away on a pitch that had been recently changed, I will decide who will play when I see the state of the pitch.”

Orleans coach Karim Mokeddem is relishing the prospect of facing the Ligue 1 giants.

“It (beating PSG) would not be an achievement – there is no word yet to describe it if it happens,” he told reporters.

“I told the players to enjoy every moment, but I think there isn’t anyone who hasn’t dreamed of eliminating PSG.”

Paris St Germain boss Luis Enrique expects his Ligue 1 pacesetters to face a tough test at Lens’ Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Sunday.

The capital club have not won at the venue since 2014, losing twice during their last three visits and drawing the other.

Lens have slipped to seventh after winning just one of their last three matches but Enrique is aware of their qualities.

The 53-year-old Spaniard told a press conference: “They have all the ingredients a top-level team could want.

“They are almost unbeatable at home, they play good football and they get good results – and they don’t give you time to think.

“Each game is a challenge. Regardless of the level of the opponent, there is always a goal to achieve.

“Of course tomorrow we are facing a team almost unbeatable at home, who play good football, press high and take up good spaces when they are on the ball.

“They put in a lot of crosses and make it dangerous for you with their attackers, who are good at getting into spaces.

“We already faced them at the Parc des Princes and it was a great game. If they (the PSG players) hadn’t been inspired, Lens would have won.

“It is a really good test for us at a fantastic stadium with an amazing atmosphere, so I am very excited.

“The only thing I wouldn’t forgive my team for is that if they are not brave or daring. That has been the case in every game this season.”

The PSG boss, who saw his team win 9-0 at amateur team Revel in the French Cup last time out, was giving little away about his team selection.

However, he did not complain about being without Achraf Hakimi and Lee Kang-in, who are on international duty with Morocco and South Korea respectively.

Enrique continued: “I am the coach and I decide who plays. We never complain about player absences. If I start to do that, imagine what the situation would be for other coaches in Ligue 1.

“We have to solve all problems that come up during the season.”

The manager ominously insisted his defending champions – who are currently five points clear at the top of the table and unbeaten away from home – would get stronger as the season progressed.

He explained: “I have known for a long time that we would be better in February. Of course you want the team to be a better team but the team will be stronger in February, March, April and May.

“I’m a really optimistic person and I think the hard work by the players is paying off.”

Kylian Mbappe became Paris St Germain’s leading scorer at the Parc des Princes as the Ligue 1 champions saw off Toulouse with a 2-0 victory to take the Champions Trophy.

PSG headed into Wednesday’s showpiece as the firm favourites to claim more silverware and they were ahead after just three minutes through Lee Kang-in.

Mbappe doubled his side’s advantage shortly before the interval with his 111th home strike for PSG as Luis Enrique landed his first trophy for the French side.

Ousmane Dembele returned for PSG following their 3-1 win against Metz a fortnight ago, while Toulouse made two changes with Vincent Sierro and Moussa Diarra back in the starting line-up.

Toulouse, who have found the going tough under new manager Carles Martinez Novell on the domestic front – with just two league wins this season – were making their first appearance at this stage of the competition since 1957 after thrashing Nantes to win the Coupe de France.

But they were a goal down with just two minutes and 35 seconds on the clock.

Vitinha’s superb crossfield ball was volleyed back across the face of goal by Dembele with an unmarked Lee making no mistake from close range.

PSG were on the front foot and in control, but Toulouse almost netted an equaliser when Gabriel Suazo struck the sidenetting with PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma beaten.

With 10 minutes of the opening period remaining, Lee nearly had his second of the night when he unleashed an overhead kick, only to be gobbled up by Guillaume Restes, before Toulouse suddenly threatened again as Thijs Dallinga’s snapshot was tipped on to the post by Donnarumma.

But the home side did double their advantage before the interval following a moment of magic from Mbappe.

The France international collected the ball 25 yards from goal before dribbling away from a handful of Toulouse defenders and firing the ball into the far corner to surpass Edinson Cavani as PSG’s sharpest shooter at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe’s masterclass left Toulouse with a mountain to climb in the second half and, despite an impressive start after the interval, PSG nearly had a third when Achraf Hakimi’s free-kick struck the woodwork.

Brazilian defender Lucas Beraldo was handed his debut in the second half and, while Toulouse refused to give up, they never looked like threatening PSG as Enrique’s men cruised to a record-extending 12th triumph – and their 10th in the past 11 years.

Paris St Germain boss Luis Enrique wishes he could be playing for a title every week as he bids to land his first trophy with the club on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 champions can open 2024 by claiming more silverware as they take on French Cup holders Toulouse for the Champions Trophy at the Parc des Princes.

PSG, winners of the trophy in nine of the past 10 years, go into game as strong favourites having opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table while Toulouse languish in the bottom three.

Enrique, the former Barcelona and Spain manager who took charge last summer, told reporters at a press conference: “We have the opportunity to play a match to win our first title this season, so that’s a source of motivation.

“Our aim is to win every title possible. It would be a reward for all the work we put in last year, so of course we’re very motivated.

“I’d love to be able to play for a trophy every week, like all the players.

“Of course, the motivation is greater than any normal league match. It’s going to be played at ‘home’ but as a neutral ground, so I imagine the atmosphere will be great.”

Toulouse have found the going tough under new manager Carles Martinez Novell on the domestic front but they finished second to Liverpool in their Europa League group.

Enrique expects them to be highly motivated and is taking nothing for granted.

He said: “Paris Saint-Germain lives for this type of match but both teams will be motivated.

“They’re a team that can do a lot with the ball and if you give them time, they’re very good at occupying space. Without the ball, they can also perform well.”

The game comes after PSG began the January transfer window by completing the signing of Brazilian defender Lucas Beraldo.

He could be the first of a number of additions.

Enrique said: “If I can have several players available in each position, I’d obviously be delighted.

“We’ll be paying close attention during this transfer window and we’ll see if there are any opportunities that allow us to improve the team.”

Ousmane Dembele is the latest addition to the PSG injury list with a hamstring problem but back-up goalkeeper Arnau Tenas is available after a shoulder issue.

Luis Enrique laughed off suggestions Paris St Germain lack a cutting edge ahead of a tricky Ligue 1 trip to stingy Le Havre.

PSG registered 31 shots during their midweek Champions League clash with Newcastle but required a controversial late penalty from Kylian Mbappe to salvage a 1-1 draw.

The reigning champions are the highest scorers in France’s top-flight, having recorded an impressive 34 goals in just 13 games.

Head coach Enrique called for perspective in the wake of a frustrating midweek meeting with the Magpies and insisted he would be more concerned if his team were not creating chances.

“This is very funny,” the Spaniard replied with a bemused expression when asked about a potential finishing problem among his squad at his pre-match press conference.

“A team that scores three goals per game (on average) and generates 10 clear chances in the Champions League against a team like Newcastle?

“If we have a finishing problem, what does that mean for everyone else?

“Football is a game of mistakes. I would be worried if we weren’t making goal-scoring chances.

“Sometimes we will score more than others, that is life. We can’t all be inspired every time. I’m not worried about that.

“Sometimes we missed good chances, that is how it is. But we need to be sensible here.”

PSG are on a run of six successive league wins following last Friday’s thumping 5-2 success over Monaco.

Meanwhile, Le Havre have registered four goalless draws in their last five outings but sit in the top half of the table following promotion last term.

Enrique believes the Newcastle game will serve as good preparation for breaking down stubborn opposition on Sunday afternoon in Normandy.

“Le Havre are a team that don’t concede many goals and don’t score many either,” he said.

“I think they’ll defend with a low block, so good movement will be necessary.

“We’ve seen, especially against Newcastle, that even when the opponent defends deep, we can still manage to create a lot of chances.

“Therefore, it will be important to be well-positioned, to move the ball well, and to get our shots on target. It’s going to be a difficult match.”

PSG remain without defender Marquinhos due to a torn hamstring.

Warren Zaire-Emery, Nuno Mendes and Presnel Kimpembe are also still sidelined, while goalkeeper Alexandre Letellier (groin) faces a fitness test.

Luis Enrique is confident his Paris St Germain squad have the depth needed to cope without injured captain Marquinhos and France starlet Warren Zaire-Emery as they prepare to face Ligue 1 rivals Monaco.

Brazil defender Marquinhos picked up a hamstring problem during the World Cup qualifier defeat against Argentina, which PSG expect to see him sidelined for at least 10 days and so will also miss next week’s Champions League match against Newcastle.

The Ligue 1 leaders were already facing up to 17-year-old midfielder Zaire-Emery missing for the rest of 2023 with an ankle injury suffered while he scored on his senior France debut against Gibraltar.

Enrique, though, feels there is enough cover to see his side produce the required performance when they host third-placed Monaco on Friday night.

“We have a squad that is the best of the (Ligue 1) championship, in my view. The only thing that every time a player gets hurt, it’s sad, because they won’t be able to play,” Enrique said.

“However, the number of players is very broad and is at a very high level.”

Enrique told a press conference: “We are used to it (injuries), but we have to make sure that the players get back.

“We take stock of what happened to the players, and we advise according to each one to have the best possible recovery.”

Monaco sits just three points behind PSG and Enrique warned against complacency as his side look to maintain their seven-match unbeaten domestic run.

Enrique said: “Monaco is a team I really like. They don’t waste time calculating, they don’t ponder about the result, they press hard.

“They always play at a good level and are the team that has created the most chances behind us.”

The PSG boss added: “It is an important match because they are a direct rival, but there is lots of time left to go in the league and there are many games to be played.

“It is not decisive, but we want to play to a better level than our opponent and have more chances,

“It is going to be a difficult match – but I have never seen an easy match in Ligue 1.”

Monaco boss Adi Hutter is expecting an open encounter at the Parc des Princes.

“We are not going to change our style of play, even if it is PSG, the leader and favourite for the title,” he told a press conference.

“They are very dangerous because they have already scored 29 goals, compared to 25 for us, which is not so bad.

“They are on five consecutive victories, so it will certainly be an open match for both sides.”

Monaco look set to welcome back Brazilian right-back Vanderson for the first time since late September.

Former Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu is also stepping up his recovery following groin surgery, but is not expected to feature against PSG.

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick as Paris St Germain won 3-0 at Reims for a fifth straight Ligue 1 victory to move top of the table.

Luis Enrique’s side produced the required response from the midweek Champions League defeat by AC Milan to keep the pressure on Nice, who were held to a goalless draw at Montpellier on Friday night.

However, despite taking an early lead, PSG had to overcome some testing spells at Stade Auguste-Delaune before Mbappe settled matters late on.

Mbappe had given the visitors a perfect start by opening the scoring after just three minutes with a superb finish.

Ousmane Dembele swung the ball in from the right and Mbappe dispatched a fine volley back into the bottom corner from the left side of the penalty area.

Reims, though, were soon on the offensive themselves and had an equaliser ruled out.

Mohamed Daramy sent Junya Ito away down the left channel and the Japan international slotted a composed finish past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The home side’s celebrations, though, were shortlived as the goal was swiftly ruled out for offside.

Ito was soon involved again as he put Marshall Munetsi in down the right side of the PSG penalty area but he slashed his shot wide.

A low free-kick from the Japan forward looked to be creeping in at the near post but Donnarumma got down to make a smart reaction save.

Azor Matusiwa then fired wide after latching on to a stray pass out from Donnarumma before Emmanuel Agbadou’s effort sailed just over.

Amir Richardson was denied by another fine stop from the PSG keeper at point-blank range just before the break.

Cheered on by a vocal home support, Reims threatened again early in the second half when Agbadou’s header from a corner was pushed away by Donnarumma.

PSG, though, made their hosts pay for spurning numerous chances to get themselves level when Mbappe doubled the lead just before the hour.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Paris Saint-Germain (@psg)

 

Carlos Soler got away down the right and cut the ball back for the Frenchman to slot in his second.

With 10 minutes left, Mbappe completed his hat-trick, sweeping home a cut-back from substitute Bradley Barcola.

It was almost four for the French World Cup winner, who continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid, when he rattled the crossbar from close range late on.

Kylian Mbappe and 17-year-old Warren Zaire-Emery starred to help Paris St Germain get their Champions League campaign back on track with a 3-0 win over AC Milan.

The Ligue 1 champions had been humiliated by Newcastle with a 4-1 loss at St James’ Park before the international break, but a second victory in Group F sent them to first position with six points after dismantling last season’s semi-finalists.

Mbappe opened the scoring after collecting Zaire-Emery’s pass before Randal Kolo Muani made it 2-0 at the start of the second half.

There was still time for a flourish in Paris with Zaire-Emery again showing his class with a second assist to set up Lee Kang-in late on.

PSG’s success coupled with Newcastle’s loss at home to Borussia Dortmund has further changed the complexion of the group with Milan bottom on two points ahead of welcoming the French outfit to the San Siro in a fortnight.

Luis Enrique had rested Achraf Hakimi, Milan Skriniar, Ousmane Dembele and Kolo Muani for their weekend win over Strasbourg, but recalled his big guns in an effort to help PSG regain control of Group F.

It was visiting Milan who dominated possession in the opening exchanges and Rafael Leao fired wide from Christian Pulisic’s quick corner.

Yellow cards were also frequent with Malick Thiaw, who was sent off in Milan’s loss at home to Juventus on Sunday, booked for a foul on Kolo Muani after only four minutes.

Mbappe’s involvement during the first quarter of an hour had been minimal, but the PSG talisman signalled his intentions with a snapshot straight at Mike Maignan in the 22nd minute.

Soon after Mbappe sent another effort wide from range before the breakthrough did occur with the World Cup winner able to provide the opener after 32 minutes.

Zaire-Emery was at the heart of the goal with the 17-year-old able to impressively hold off Tijjani Reijnders before he passed into Mbappe, who squared up Fikayo Tomori and then curled into the bottom corner in a flash for his 10th goal of the campaign.

It was the moment of magic the anxious Parc des Princes crowd wanted but no further goals were forthcoming before the break after PSG had penalty appeals waved away following a tangle between Mbappe and the already-booked Thiaw in the area.

The hosts did have the ball in the net three minutes into the second half when Dembele appeared to open his account for the club, but VAR awarded a foul for Manuel Ugarte’s cynical tackle on Rade Krunic in the build-up.

Milan threatened moments later but Olivier Giroud could only fire into the side-netting from Pulisic’s centre and the second did arrive in the 53rd minute for PSG.

Mbappe’s quick thinking saw the French attacker take a quick corner into the path of Dembele, who had a low shot parried out by Maignan to Kolo Muani and he made no mistake from close range.

While Leao continued to carry Milan’s attacking threat, their race was run and only a stunning finger-tip stop from Maignan to deny Mbappe prevented PSG making it 3-0.

It would prove brief respite with Luis Enrique’s team adding a third after 89 minutes when teenager Zaire-Emery raced down the right and squared for substitute Lee to curl into the bottom corner to help PSG leapfrog Newcastle to move top of Group F.

Luis Enrique says Paris St Germain face a tougher task on their Ligue 1 return against Strasbourg than they will playing AC Milan in the Champions League four days later.

PSG return to action after the international break on Saturday behind top two Monaco and Nice, and with former France midfielder Patrick Vieira in the Strasbourg dug out at the Parc des Princes.

“As a player, I experienced it for years when I played for Real Madrid and Barcelona, then I experienced it as a coach at Barça and now at Paris St Germain,” head coach Enrique said ahead of side’s contest with 11th-placed Strasbourg.

“When players are in the national team, they are always very excited. That’s logical and normal, and I accept it.

“After that, it depends on the match that follows, the opponent. It can be more or less motivating.

“When you’re part of a great team, you have to be able to play even when you’re not optimally motivated.

“It’s not an easy thing to do, especially with these breaks where the first match back is a league game and the next a Champions League match, like the one against Milan, where the motivation will be high.”

PSG must revive their Champions League campaign on Wednesday after losing 4-1 at Newcastle. They beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at home in their opening match.

The Ligue 1 champions have stuttered domestically with a home defeat to Nice and three draws in their eight games, although PSG did win 3-1 at Rennes before the international break.

Enrique said: “It would be a mistake to think that the match against Strasbourg will be easy. It’s a much tougher match than the one against Milan.

“For Milan, I’ll have to calm the players down. Whereas on Saturday, I’m going to have to motivate them, get them excited.

“That’s why this match against Strasbourg involves a lot more problems for me, with a very young opposition, super-motivated and coached by a very good coach.

“The first thing to do after a two-week break is to get the players back into the swing of things at the club.

“It’s going to be a special week because there are three matches.”

Kylian Mbappe has not scored for PSG since converting from the penalty spot against Dortmund on September 19.

The four-game run is the longest Mbappe has gone without a goal for the club in five years.

Luis Enrique has vowed to get the best out of superstar Kylian Mbappe as he attempts to address Paris St Germain’s stuttering form.

The Ligue 1 champions return to domestic action at Rennes on Sunday still smarting from their 4-1 Champions League drubbing at Newcastle on Wednesday evening, during which Mbappe cut a frustrated figure.

However speaking at his pre-match press conference, PSG boss Enrique dismissed concerns over the striker’s fitness – he limped out of the 4-0 win over Marseille a fortnight ago with an ankle injury, but has started the two games since – and backed him to return to his best form.

He said: “Kylian is 100 per cent. Like all players, his fitness varies throughout the season. Not everything can be black and white.

“He’s a decisive player for us and my aim as coach is to make the most of his qualities.”

Like Mbappe, summer signing Ousmane Dembele made little impact at St James’ Park, but Enrique called for patience with the former Barcelona star as he adapts to his new surroundings.

He said: “I’m very happy with Ousmane’s work so far. I don’t think we need to put any particular pressure on him.

“The first person to blame when things aren’t going well is the coach. My real objective is to attack with 11 attackers and defend with 11 defenders.

“Ousmane Dembele plays on the flanks but he can also come into the middle to provide support. He’s an ideal player for my playing philosophy, with the ability to unbalance opponents. I’m happy with his attitude and his performances.”

PSG headed into the weekend sitting in fifth place in the table, two points behind early leaders Monaco, but having won only four of their nine games in all competitions to date to leave Enrique himself in the firing line.

However, the Spaniard remained defiant in the wake of intense criticism of his side’s performance at Newcastle.

He said: “My job is to find the best way to achieve the best possible results. In any case, I have every confidence in my players and my staff going forward.”

Rennes, who lost for the first time this season when they went down 1-0 at Villarreal in the Europa League on Thursday evening, have frustrated PSG in recent seasons, completing a league double over them last season.

The Parisians have not returned from Rennes with all three points since September 2018 and have managed just a single draw in their last four visits.

Enrique said: “Rennes are undoubtedly one of the best teams in the league. Historically, they’re a club that we’ve had some difficulty facing, especially when we play them away.

“They have some very interesting attacking systems, with some very strong individual attacking players.”

Paris St Germain boss Luis Enrique has admitted Newcastle were the pot four team nobody wanted to draw as they renew their acquaintance with the Champions League.

The French side, along with AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund, have been pitched into Group F battle with the Magpies, who are back in the big time after a 20-year absence following last season’s fourth-placed Premier League finish.

Enrique, part of the Barcelona side which lost 3-2 at St James’ Park in Newcastle’s very first fixture in the competition in 1997, knows they could be a major threat on their return to the European stage.

He said: “They are the team from the fourth pot in the draw that no-one really wanted, of course. We know that they play at a high level.

“They’re very good in possession, they’re very good off the ball as well. They play with a very high press – they’re almost a complete football team.

“Tomorrow, they’re going to be playing in front of their extremely passionate supporters as well, and that’s going to help them.

“All teams can go far in the Champions League. There’s no reason why Newcastle can’t go far either. No-one wanted to play them, I guess, also because we saw how good they were last season.

“It’s a spectacular place to go and play and it will also be good for us to see what our team is made of playing at St James’ Park.

“I’m envious of my players because they’re going to get to experience that first-hand out on the pitch tomorrow, and I just hope that it’s a great game.”

Enrique remembers his visit to Tyneside with Barca well, although not fondly despite scoring on a night when Tino Asprilla’s brilliant hat-trick saw Kenny Dalglish’s men secure one of the club’s most famous victories.

He said: “Obviously it was a tough game, a really tough game. Twenty-six years ago seems a lifetime ago, I guess – I was certainly a lot younger than I am now.

“It is true that I scored – I think it finished 3-2? They had great players, a great atmosphere generated by the crowd. It wasn’t easy then and I don’t suppose it will be easy tomorrow either.”

Defender Lucas Hernandez arrived in the north east of England with a little extra inside knowledge after speaking to his younger brother Theo, who played for AC Milan in their 0-0 draw with the Magpies a fortnight ago.

Asked what he had been told, Hernandez said: “He told me they were very solid in defence. I know Milan created quite a few chances, but they didn’t take them on the night and of course in the Champions League, if you don’t take your chances, obviously you’re not going to win the game.

“He told me more than anything else, they’re solid, compact, they’re good on the counter-attack and some of the players are very quick going forward.”

Page 1 of 11
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.