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Football: Neymar, Mbappe need to step up; Ibra injured

November 24, 2020 10:05 IST
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PSG's Neymar last scored in the Champions League last March.

IMAGE: PSG's Neymar last scored in the Champions League last March Photograph: Ozan Kose/Pool via Reuters

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar will need to rediscover their Champions League scoring touch when an injury-hit Paris St Germain take on RB Leipzig in Group H on Tuesday.

Both strikers have just resumed playing after injury layoffs but Neymar has not scored in his last five Champions League matches while Mbappe has not found the back of the net in the competition in his last seven outings.

"We're affected if Kylian Mbappe and Neymar don't score. They have a big impact, they're key players and I hope they can score tomorrow," coach Thomas Tuchel told a news conference on Monday.

 

The German has to make do with the absence of defenders Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat, midfielders Marco Verratti and Julian Draxler as well as striker Mauro Icardi.

Presnel Kimpembe is suspended, meaning that Marquinhos will start in central defence.

PSG will need to rely on their attack against the team they knocked out in the semi-finals last season.

"Our will to score will need to be stronger than our fear of messing up at the back," said Tuchel.

At the halfway mark, PSG are third in the group on three points from three games, three points behind Leipzig and leaders Manchester United.

Neymar played half an hour in the 3-2 defeat by AS Monaco on Friday in his comeback from a hamstring injury, while Mbappe scored twice as he returned after suffering a thigh problem against Nantes on Oct. 31.

Mbappe, whose last goal in the Champions League was in December, also played for France in the international window.

"We need a big performance from Kylian. He did everything to be ready for that game, playing on Friday and with France before that," said Tuchel.

"Neymar has the capacity and the self-confidence to score," he added when asked about the Brazilian, who last scored in the Champions League last March.

"Is he in the best possible shape? No, but he can manage a game like this, and we have to be here for him so that he's not alone."

Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said he expected PSG to apply pressure at the Parc des Princes but that his team would still play to win after beating the French champions 2-1 in their first meeting in the group.

"Neymar and Mbappe cost twice the price of our team but what matters to us is to win and stay ahead of them in the standings," Nagelsmann told a news conference.

Milan's Ibrahimovic out of action for two weeks

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be out of action for at least ten days after picking up a muscle injury in the 3-1 league win against Napoli at the weekend, the Serie A club said on Monday.

The 39-year-old scored twice before suffering the injury as the Serie A leaders recorded their first league win in Naples for more than 10 years.

A club spokesperson said it could take between two and three weeks for Ibrahimovic to recover.

The Swedish striker, who has scored 10 goals in six league games this season, will likely miss Europa League matches against French side and Group H leaders Lille and Scotland's Celtic on Thursday and on December 3, respectively.

Ibrahimovic could also miss the final group game against Sparta Prague. Milan are second in Group H with two wins out of three matches.

The Serie A leaders have 20 points after eight league games and face 15th-placed Fiorentina on Sunday.

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