Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbpe is fighting against time to be healthy enough to take part in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semi-final, second leg with Manchester City, after head coach Mauricio Pochettino revealed that a decision has still not been made about his availability.
The French international is suffering from a calf contract and was unavailable for the 2-1 win over RC Lens in Ligue 1 last weekend and he was seen limping at the airport before Les Parisiens flew to Manchester for a showdown.
Speaking at his pre-match interview on Monday, Pochettino revealed that Mbpe is training alone on the eve of the game and the Argentine and his staff will make a decision on the day on whether the 22-year-old can start at. Eithad Stadium
“Kylian wants to train alone,” Pochettino said. “We will see if he is able to start or not. We have not yet decided his availability. We will look at training and then make a decision on match day.”
Teammate Marco Verratti still hopes Mbpe is able to play a part this midweek and feels that the former AS Monaco man and Brazilian superstar Neymar has the ability to provide potentially game-winning moments.
“We are against the best players,” said the Italian international midfielder. “A little stroke of genius from Neymar or Kylian can change the game.”
Should Mbpe not succeed, here are five attacking options that Pochettino can turn to to uncover.
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It goes without saying that Neymar will be on the field. He’s guaranteed to start when he’s fit, it’s a great decision from Pochettino to leave the Brazilian international out of what is without a doubt PSG’s biggest game of the season and where they desperately need $ 268 million dollars for to enter the talismanic state for 90 minutes or more.
We have already seen the Samba star dominate a Manchester team away from home this campaign with a majestic display as the Ligue 1 giants won 3-1 in the UCL group stage back in December, and more of the same is required here – with or without Mbpe .
Neymar wants to be there from the start, the only question is how he will be the only superstar. Will he be the focal point of the attack, or will Pochettino choose to replace Mbpe with another striker so that Neymar can be both facilitator and goal scorer.
2. Angel Di Maria
Not quite as pristine as Neymar as he ages, but still extremely important, Di Maria rolled the years back in the first stage with 45 excellent first-half minutes and a strong display until he was tired around the hour mark.
The 33-year-old, who splits defensively, should release Alessandro Florenzi to bomb forward whenever possible, and the less defense the Italian has to worry about, the better as the flanks remain relatively unharmed by Mbpe’s potential absence. .
Di Maria being spared the physical lens conflict suggests he will play from off for the best part of the meeting. Without Mbpe, however, you need to look for him to be less able to prioritize his defensive tasks and be more necessary to orchestrate the attack along with Neymar.
3. Mauro Icardi
The real concern that Pochettino will come after this is how to replace Mbpe through the middle with Icardi, more of a predatory goalkeeper game without the hurtful pace that PSG’s No. 7 used with a devastating effect against similar ones like Barcelona and Bayern Munich .
The former Tottenham Hotspur boss could win another opportunity with more speed, but if he does, he will lose Icardi’s last skill, which has been in decent shape in front of goal since his return from injury and fitness problems.
With 90 minutes and a VAR-canceled goal in the legs from the weekend, the Argentine is probably the best choice to start and lead the line if Mbpe can not walk.
4. Moses Cain
The most obvious replacement for Mbpe in terms of his speed and finish is the Italian, who has had a productive loan spell from Everton and is now closer to the hot prospects he once was at Juventus a few years ago.
Kean has found the back of the net against similar to Barca as part of PSG’s journey to this point, but has struggled to make such a big impact late as he tested positive for COVID-19 and was sacked by Italy’s national team from March duty with muscle fatigue.
His recent matches suggest he is probably a better option for bench, though one that could change the game late if PSG chase a goal.
5. Pablo Sarabia
The wildcard in all of this and one that would require some rejgging to accommodate is the Spaniard who started the recent win over Lens and can do a good job out both on the domestic market and on the continental stage.
Sarabia and Julian Draxler are of similar profiles, but the German is no longer considered an attacking option after his gradual transformation into a versatile midfielder, and the use of the Spaniard will probably also mean that one of Neymar, Di Maria or Icardi starts on the bench with Verratti sure to play as a provisional No. 10 again.
Like Kean, the 28-year-old is likely to be a smarter replacement if the tide turns – potential finalists Real Madrid know all about his ability to produce match-saving moments of magic out of nothing.