Opinion: Mbappé’s Injury Stings But PSG Far From Finished in the Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain defeated AS Saint-Étienne to claim their 13th Coupe de France title in club history but they suffered one major loss during the match, a significant injury to superstar Kylian Mbappé.

Less than 30 minutes had gone by before Mbappé was left in a crumpled-up heap by Loïc Perrin whose scissor tackle caught the Frenchman’s ankle and bent it in an unnatural position. My words can’t really describe how heinous the tackle really was, so just watch it for yourself:

The 34-year-old Perrin knew that he could not keep up with Mbappé’s world-class speed. Instead of tugging on his shirt or shoving him to the ground, he lunged at the PSG forward’s legs and came dangerously close to snapping his leg and putting his career in serious jeopardy.

The status of Mbappé’s injury at this time is unknown. He did walk off the pitch, albeit it gingerly, and returned near the end of the match on crutches and wearing an air cast. Mbappé reportedly told the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, that he heard his ankle crack but that he doesn’t think it’s broken. We should know much more tomorrow after the PSG medical staff has had time to evaluate the player.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that PSG will be fine without Mbappé because they won’t be. In the few exhibition matches and then tonight up until he was injured, Mbappé was playing beautiful football and somehow looked like he improved despite not playing a competitive match for four months.

Obviously, the concern PSG fans have right now is whether Mbappé will be healed in time to be available for the UEFA Champions League match on August 12, against Atalanta. We’ll know more once the results of the scans come back but assuming the injury will keep him out of the match against the Serie A club, there’s still plenty of reasons for supporters to be optimistic about PSG’s chances in Europe.

First of all, let’s not forget that Mbappé wasn’t really healthy for the return leg against Borussia Dortmund last March (illness). PSG found themselves down 2-1 after the first leg and battled back at the Parc des Princes to ultimately win 3-2 on aggregate and advance to the quarter-finals. Mbappé didn’t start and came on in the 64th minute and contributed very little.

Let’s also not forget that PSG are stacked when it comes to attacking options. Manager Thomas Tuchel can still trot out a front three of Mauro Icardi, Neymar Jr., and Pablo Sarabia (Angel Di Maria is suspended). Julian Draxler has become a forgotten man at PSG but he’s not a terrible option to have off the bench and either is Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting who scored a brace against Waasland-Beveren recently. A sleeper option for Tuchel could be 18-year-old Arnaud Kalimuendo, who has shown a lot of promise recently.

If Mbappé can’t suit up for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it could also force Tuchel to play more conservative, which might not be the worst idea against a team like Atalanta. A return to a more traditional 4-3-3 could help PSG control the game in the midfield and frustrate Atalanta’s attackers who want to go full-throttle towards the opponents goal.

Last summer, Leonardo, PSG’s sporting director, invested in adding quality depth to the squad and those players will be called upon to lift up the club while its star is hobbled. Whatever the scans reveal this weekend, there’s still reason for PSG supporters to be hopeful for Champions League glory this season.

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Tags Arnaud Kalimuendo Muinga AS Saint-Etienne Champions League Coupe de France Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting Julian Draxler Kylian Mbappé Leonardo Mauro Icardi Neymar Pablo Sarabia
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