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 tonight.
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 yesterday.
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 said.