PSG must raise game to end European hoodoo: Mbappe

PSG's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani celebrating his goal in last Saturday's 1-0 league win over Toulouse in Paris. The other two members of their famed MCN attack - Kylian Mbappe and Neymar - were rested after they were injured on international du
PSG's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani celebrating his goal in last Saturday's 1-0 league win over Toulouse in Paris. The other two members of their famed MCN attack - Kylian Mbappe and Neymar - were rested after they were injured on international duty.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Teenage star Kylian Mbappe has said that Paris Saint-Germain must take advantage of the crucial moments in games if they are to finally fulfil their dream of winning the Champions League.

The French giants face Liverpool in a crunch Group C game today. Defeat at the Parc des Princes would end their hopes of reaching the last 16 if Napoli beat Red Star Belgrade.

PSG may have won all 14 Ligue 1 games this season under new coach Thomas Tuchel, but they are also wary that they underperformed in a 3-2 September defeat in Liverpool, followed by two draws with Napoli.

Napoli and Liverpool top the group on six points, with PSG one behind and Red Star on four.

"We have struggled a bit so far, but we are still in the running and we have our fate in our own hands. I think that in order to win a competition, you need things to click into place," Mbappe told Agence France-Presse.

"There is maybe a little moment in the game - it can be a half, or a spell in which you are on top - and your team grows in confidence and things go in your favour, to take you far in a competition like this."

  • 38% 

    Liverpool's away win rate in the eight Champions League games since last season, excluding the final at a neutral ground. It was three victories out of six last season (three in group stage and three in knockout stages) and zero of two this term.

PSG's hopes hinge heavily on the fitness of Mbappe and the Brazilian Neymar, who were both injured during last week's international break.

The duo, with 13 goals each in all competitions this term, are game-changers PSG need to end their record of four quarter-final exits in a row before back-to-back last-16 losses in the last two seasons.

With the duo rested at home to Toulouse on Saturday, it was left to the third man in their famed MCN attack to hold the fort. The Uruguayan Edinson Cavani scored the winner and has 10 goals so far.

World Cup winner Mbappe said that PSG can learn from his France side's campaign in Russia.

"During the group stage at the World Cup, nobody thought we would go on to win it," said the 19-year-old forward.

"I had said our aim was to win it and people laughed at me a bit. It can be difficult to look too far forward, all the more so in the Champions League where there are so many matches.

"But, in top-level football, it is the little details that are the most important."

PSG will have noticed that Liverpool pack a weaker punch on the road in Europe:

 • They won half of their six away games last season and were also beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in the final in Kiev, Ukraine.

 • They failed to muster a single shot on target in losing 1-0 at Napoli this campaign before a 2-0 slump in Belgrade gave Red Star their first Champions League victory for 26 years.

But Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is unfazed by the challenge.

"We want to win in Paris. We're not going to go there for a draw," the Dutch defender told the club website.

"We need to show we've learnt from our last two away games in the Champions League.

"I think we will. I am very confident we can produce a good performance."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2018, with the headline 'PSG must raise game to end European hoodoo: Mbappe'. Print Edition | Subscribe