Champions League: Kylian Mbappe likely to return against Atalanta


    After returning to full training at the weekend, Kylian Mbappe is likely to return to the starting line up for PSG against Atalanta in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in Lisbon.

    The world cup winner had been initially ruled out of the game after suffering an ankle injury during Paris St-Germain’s French Cup final win over Saint-Etienne on 24 July.

    Mbappe walks of the pitch in tears
    Mbappe walks of the pitch in tears
    • This will be the first competitive game between Atalanta and Paris Saint-Germain.
    • Atalanta’s only previous encounter with a French club in European competition was against Lyon in the 2017/18 Uefa Europa League group stages – a 1-1 draw in France and won 1-0 at home.
    • Paris Saint-Germain have never won a single game against Italian opposition in the Uefa Champions League (D4 L2). They’ve also never kept a clean sheet in those six matches.
    • PSG are in the quarter-finals of the Uefa Champions League for the first time since 2015/16.
    • Their last four experience was in since 1994/95 when they were knocked out by AC Milan (0-3 agg.).
    • PSG have played two competitive games in the last five months (Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue finals on 24th and 31st July respectively) whilst Atalanta have played 13, winning nine of those games (D3 L1).
    • PSG have scored in each of their last 32 Uefa Champions League games. The last time they failed to find the net was against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the 2015/16 edition.
    • Neymar has scored 12 goals in his last 16 Uefa Champions League knockout games. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (33), Lionel Messi (16) and Robert Lewandowski (14) have found the net on more occasions than him since 2014/15.
    • Despite losing their opening three games this season, Atalanta is the first Uefa Champions League debutants to reach the quarter-finals of the competition since Leicester City in 2016/17 and the first Italian side to do so since Lazio in the 1999/00 campaign.
    • Atalanta has won their last four Uefa Champions League games, the longest current run alongside Bayern Munich. They have also scored eight goals in their two knockout games so far (vs Valencia), as many as they did in their six group games.
    • Atalanta has conceded more goals than any other remaining team in this season’s competition (16 in eight games).

    With his full recovery, head coach Thomas Tuchel said he will feature if “nothing extraordinary happens”. But what remains unclear is if he’ll be in the starting line up or he will be starting from the bench.

    “We are really pleased to have the possibility of finishing the match with Kylian on the pitch. That gives Neymar someone who likes playing alongside him.”

    PSG will now have the opportunity to progress in the competition they have not been able to reach the semi-finals since the Qatari takeover almost a decade ago.

    Does Atalanta have the chance to beat PSG with Mbappe on the pitch?

    Although they are the surprise package, Atalanta will never forget their debut Champions League season in a hurry.

    Bergamo, where the club is based is one of the cities with a high mortality rate from the coronavirus. The Army was at one point called in to take away coffins because local morgues could not cope with the number of virus deaths.

    The manager, Gian Piero Gasperini has, therefore, said the suffering in the club’s home city of Bergamo following the coronavirus outbreak provides “extra motivation” to his side.

    Mbappe lands in Lisbon

    “We know the level of expectation that there is around this match, and how much passion there is for Atalanta in Bergamo and the surrounding province,” said Gasperini.

    “There is extra motivation for us after what has happened. We have to represent our city in the best possible way and give the people something to smile about.”

    After finishing third for the second successive season in Serie A, Gasperini said his players are in “great condition”.

    “We have shown that without being a big club or having massive investment it is possible to do well in the Champions League with passion, good football, and desire,” said the 62-year-old.

    Meanwhile, Atalanta will be without midfielder Josip Ilicic, who has been one of their standout players because of personal reasons. The Slovenian had scored all four goals in the 4-3 win at Valencia in the last-16 second leg.


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