Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
Kylian Mbappé looks set to play for Paris Saint-Germain as the reigning Ligue 1 Uber Eats champions get their title defence back underway aiming to claim top spot in the table when they host Nice at the Parc des Princes on Friday.
Mbappé was an unused substitute as France were beaten 2-1 by Germany in Dortmund on Tuesday with national team coach Didier Deschamps later revealing his captain was nursing a knee tendon problem.
However, following what PSG described as “a reassuring clinical examination,” PSG’s superstar forward is likely to get the chance to add to his tally of five goals just four games into the season – a career-best tally for Mbappé – as Round 5 of the 2023/24 campaign kicks off in the French capital.
“He was feeling some discomfort, so we’ll discuss [on Friday] whether he’ll be able to play against Nice,” said PSG boss Luis Enrique. “But I think he’ll be ready.”
Currently in second place two points behind Monaco, PSG would move top of the table with victory until Sunday at least when the principality outfit play at Lorient. That would set them up nicely ahead of next week’s UEFA Champions League opener against Borussia Dortmund and the first Classique of the season against Marseille that follows it.
“Since I’ve been a coach, I’ve known that three-match weeks are important moments. We’re used to this kind of situation. Our squad has two or three players in each position, so it’s very important to be able to rotate players if we are to achieve our objectives over the course of what will be a long season. We have a well-balanced team, in all areas of the game, with top-level players,” explained the PSG boss, who insisted his squad’s focus was no further than the next game regardless of what the near future brings.
“We’re only thinking about the Nice game. We’re not thinking about future matches. We got the players back gradually after the break, and we’ve been preparing for the match against Nice.”
Paris Saint-Germain are unbeaten in their last 12 league games at home to Nice, a streak stretching back to the 2010/11 campaign, but the visitors arrive in Paris one of five teams – including their hosts – unbeaten so far.
“Nice have a young but experienced coach, a team that plays well with and without the ball,” said Luis Enrique, who will be without Marco Asensio (foot) until at least the end of September following the Spain forward’s injury while on international duty. Marquinhos and Manuel Ugarte, who have endured trans-Atlantic journeys to play for their countries, could be rested.
“It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re at home, and we’re counting on the support of our fans to be able to pick up the win, the three points are our objective. We want to impose our style of play, but our opponents will want to do that too. It will be up to us to make sure we keep the ball.”
Having opened the season with three draws, newly appointed Nice coach Francesco Farioli scored his and his club’s first win with a 2-0 defeat of Strasbourg before the international break, a triumph that was achieved without injured France international midfielder Khephren Thuram.
“Our aim is to get him back to his best. He’s important for the club,” said Farioli. “He’s one of our potential game-changers, someone who can improve our level of play very significantly. He’s recovering from the little injury he had. He’ll certainly play a role in the game, and I think that it’s actually the ideal stage on which he can express his qualities and help us enormously.”
Farioli, who saw centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo join Thuram as one of the club’s France internationals when the former Barcelona man made his senior debut against Germany this week, will be without Alexis Claude-Maurice (knee) and Antoine Mendy (calf), but Jérémie Boga is fit again after a thigh problem. Former PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu has been training with Nice and Farioli revealed “a decision will be made next week” on whether the former Italy international returns to French football as back-up to another former PSG custodian, Marcin Bulka.
PSG: Donnarumma; Hakimi, Pereira, Skriniar, Hernandez; Zaire-Emery, Ruiz, Vitinha; Dembele, Mbappé (or Ramos), Barcola
Nice: Bulka; Atal, Todibo, Dante, Perraud; Boudaoui, Ndayishimiye, Sanson; Laborde, Moffi, Diop
Do you have a story tip?
Kindly Email: firstname.lastname@example.org