PREVIEW | PSG v Benfica: Hosts look to get back on track after two draws

The main story at PSG this week, more so than the insipid, scoreless draw to Reims, has been Kylian Mbappé’s public disavowal of his role in Christophe Galtier’s attacking set-up. The forward claims to play better in a two-man frontline alongside an Olivier Giroud-like pivot, while the coach himself has recognised that the club did try to bring in a different type of striker this summer, to no avail.

Mbappé – who does have 11 goals in all competitions this season – will feel that the promises made by the PSG management when he renewed in May have not been kept. But his team are in the midst of a crowded schedule (8 games in October alone) where improvisation is very much the key for Galtier, and Mbappé’s whims take a backseat. A ticket to the Champions League knockout stages is evidently not at risk yet – they can even secure it tonight if results go their way – but PSG will need Mbappé to be at his altruistic best if they are to raise the level of their performance from last week.

The hosts will be without Lionel Messi, whose calf issue has now kept him out of consecutive games, a fitness issue which will concern Galtier all the more given that the Argentine had been the team’s best-performing attacker of late. The 35-year-old, who scored in both of his last two matches, will be replaced in the attack by Pablo Sarabia, the Spaniard having scored 21 goals during his loan spell in Portugal last year.

Also weighing on their minds will be the prospect of facing Marseille at the weekend, with Le Classique taking on even greater importance this year as a reinvigorated OM shape up to be their main rivals for the title this year. Igor Tudor’s men, themselves facing Portuguese opposition in Sporting Lisbon tomorrow, will be relishing the trip to the Parc des Princes if the champions are to go into the match on the back of three winless games and growing behind-the-scenes tension.

PSG v Benfica, predicted lineups:

Gianluigi Donnarumma – Sergio Ramos, Marquinhos, Danilo Pereira – Achraf Hakimi, Marco Verratti, Vitinha, Juan Bernat – Pablo Sarabia, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar. (via L’Éq)


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