PARIS: Kylian Mbappe takes an enforced rest from the Paris Saint-Germain side this weekend as the French champions warm up for their Champions League trip to Liverpool with a home clash against Saint-Etienne.
Mbappe begins a three-game ban from domestic action handed down after he was sent off right at the end of PSG’s 4-2 win at Nimes a fortnight ago.
The 19-year-old France superstar was shown a red card for shoving Nimes player Teji Savanier to the floor in a violent reaction to being fouled.
He later said he had no regrets and insisted he would do it again, and the consequences are that he will sit out a trio of Ligue 1 matches for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
“It was very harsh. He reacted in a very emotive manner but he didn’t hit anyone, he just pushed him. He was frightened because of the violence of the foul,” Tuchel said of the incident in an interview with SFR Sport this week.
The rest might not harm Mbappe, who was at the Parc des Princes on Thursday as the club launched a new European jersey, by Nike’s Jordan Brand, in a glitzy ceremony.
Mbappe also scored for France in their 2-1 win over the Netherlands last weekend and is certain to start when PSG begin their latest quest for Champions League glory at Anfield next Tuesday.
There is huge pressure on Tuchel to take PSG far in Europe after they were eliminated in the last 16 in each of the last two seasons, but they have been drawn in a testing group that also features Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli and Red Star Belgrade.
– Neymar risk? –
At least Tuchel has got off to a serene start domestically, with PSG having won their first four games of the Ligue 1 season.
Saint-Etienne’s visit to the Parc des Princes could be the toughest test yet, however, especially as there are also doubts that Neymar can last 90 minutes.
The world’s most expensive player turned out for Brazil in midweek in a 5-0 friendly win over El Salvador in the United States and scored, as did PSG colleague Marquinhos. That game did not finish until the early hours of Wednesday, French time.
“It’s only about what is a risk for tomorrow. It is important that he is on the pitch tomorrow and wins the game for us then,” Tuchel told media on Thursday.
“And then we see for the next thing, but the big players can play a lot of games, and for that we take the decision very carefully.”
The coach added: “I hope that nobody is thinking about Tuesday, that is very, very important for me.”
Friday’s game could also see new signing Juan Bernat make his first appearance as a PSG player.
The Spanish international was signed from Bayern Munich for 15 million euros ($17.5 million) just before the transfer window closed and is a welcome addition with Layvin Kurzawa out for two months after back surgery.
Lyon will also be in England on Champions League duty next week, travelling to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
That is a daunting prospect for Bruno Genesio’s team, who first go to Caen this weekend with Moussa Dembele hoping to make his debut after joining from Celtic.
“He is a real number nine, a penalty-box player, but not only that,” said Genesio of the France under-21 striker, signed for 22 million euros.
France’s other Champions League representatives are Monaco, who are at Toulouse on Saturday ahead of another difficult European tie against Atletico Madrid.
Nice v Rennes (1700), Paris Saint-Germain v Saint-Etienne (1845)
Caen v Lyon (1500), Amiens v Lille, Dijon v Angers, Montpellier v Strasbourg, Toulouse v Monaco (all 1800)
Nantes v Reims (1300), Bordeaux v Nimes (1500), Marseille v Guingamp (1900)