Kyian Mbappe and PSG battle to keep Champions League dream alive – NDTV Sports

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Kyian Mbappe and PSG battle to keep Champions League dream alive – NDTV Sports

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The specter of another disappointing Champions League exit looms over Paris Saint-Germain after a 3-2 first-leg defeat at home left them battling to overturn their quarter-final against Barcelona on their return from Tuesday. At first, no one realistically expected that this PSG team, in transition with a rejuvenated squad after the departures of Lionel Messi and Neymar last year, would go on and win the Champions League this season. But the realization that Kylian Mbappe would not stay beyond the end of his contract after this campaign helped focus minds, with the superstar striker informing the club of his plans following the round of 16 victory over Real Sociedad. final.

Then came the draw for the round of 16 and semi-finals, which presented the French champions with a favorable path to reach the final.

Luis Enrique’s side, who had been unconvincing in their group but played the first leg against Barcelona after a 27-game unbeaten run going back five months, were saved from any prospect of meeting Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Arsenal. before the final.

A win against a Barca team that is no longer the force of old would set up a quarter-final draw against either Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmund, the kindest draw possible even if neither team could never be taken lightly.

However, PSG’s performance against Barcelona last Wednesday made it clear that Luis Enrique’s team is far from complete and that their most important player is not in his best form.

Mbappe has scored 39 goals this season and the Parisians need him in his game if they are to go all the way and end the French captain’s seven-year stay at the club by winning the club’s biggest prize for the first time. European football.

But he didn’t play well in the first leg against Barcelona, ​​when PSG’s goals came from Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha as he struggled down the left flank.

This has raised questions over Luis Enrique’s handling of the 2018 World Cup-winning striker.

He has played a full 90 minutes in Ligue 1 just once in seven matches since telling the club he intended to leave, with the manager regularly insisting he must prepare for a future without Mbappe.

Donnarumma doubt

Further on, Gianluigi Donnarumma’s error-strewn performance in the first leg was just the latest example of the Italian goalkeeper’s weaknesses being exposed at the highest level.

Donnarumma was also not helped by the defense in front of him, with Lucas Beraldo – the 20-year-old Brazilian signed in the January window – playing like a young defender who had never featured in such a big Champions League. game.

“Small details made the difference and there are things we cannot accept in the second leg,” captain Marquinhos said after the match in Paris, referring in particular to Barcelona’s first and third goals.

“We have no choice. We have to go out there and win.”

Exiting in the quarter-finals would be roughly comparable to PSG’s current situation, but it would be a disappointing way to end the Mbappe era, a missed opportunity.

Not that they should give up hope: after all, Luis Enrique was in charge of Barcelona when they beat PSG in the last 16 of the competition in 2017 despite losing 4-0 in the first leg.

Barça qualified by winning 6-1 in the return, even though they had home advantage in this second match.

PSG – who were not in the league this weekend – should also be much stronger on Tuesday as Achraf Hakimi, so influential from right-back, returns from suspension.

Mbappé may also think he has something to prove, and if he plays that night, anything is possible.

“I have no doubt that we can and will turn things around. That’s my goal,” Luis Enrique said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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