Record-breaking Mbappe determined to lead PSG past Bayern

PARIS: Kylian Mbappe travels to Munich fresh from a record-breaking weekend with Paris Saint-Germain and is determined to lead the French giants past Bayern into the Champions League quarter-finals.

PSG are trailing 1-0 in the first leg of the heavyweight division’s round of 16 after Mbappe came on from the bench in that game last month through injury.

But the 24-year-old French superstar has done enough in his short time on the pitch – including disallowing a goal for a minor offside – to make it clear he can swing the tie at the Parisians.

Since that game, the Ligue 1 leaders have bounced back from a worrying slump to claim three consecutive domestic victories, scoring 11 goals.

Mbappe has scored five of those, including one in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Nantes, in which he overtook Edinson Cavani to become PSG’s all-time top scorer, five and a half years after joining from Monaco in 2017.

The player who became the first to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final since Geoff Hurst in 1966 in December has a remarkable tally of 201 goals in 247 games in a PSG shirt.

– ‘Leave a mark’ –

“Every player plays to leave their mark and make their name in football history and not forgotten. I think with that record, people will remember me here,” Mbappe said after being presented with a trophy by PSG in a lavish on-pitch presentation in front of an admiring crowd.

Mbappe has scored 30 goals in 30 games for his club this season and has a strong claim to be the best player in the world right now, even though Lionel Messi recently surpassed him to win The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

Messi, who scored 18 goals himself for PSG this season, is mainly there to serve Mbappe in Christophe Galtier’s side, for whom Neymar’s absence from Munich – and for a few more months – through injury may not matter.

However, elimination from the Champions League in the first knockout round for the fifth time in seven seasons would be really important for PSG and their Qatari owners.

They lost to Bayern in their only appearance to date in the final in Lisbon in 2020, but one of the defining performances of Mbappe’s previous stint at PSG came in Munich the following year.

It was a snowy night in April 2021 when Mbappe scored twice in a 3-2 quarter-final first-leg win over Bayern in an empty Allianz Arena.

He opened the scoring as Paris took a 2-0 lead. Bayern pulled back only for Mbappe to score an excellent winner, rolling one into the far corner only to smash his shot past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer at his near post.

“My thoughts are already on the game on Wednesday. We’re going to Munich with the clear goal of qualifying,” Mbappe said on Saturday, before downplaying suggestions that leaving PSG would hasten his departure.

“I don’t think this game will have an impact. If I tied my future to the Champions League without wanting to show disrespect to the club, I would have left long ago.

“I’m here and I’m very happy to be here. I don’t think about anything other than making PSG successful.”

– defense problems –

PSG may need Mbappé’s goals at Bayern more than ever because coach Galtier is not looking for his defensive problems.

His side have produced their best performance this season with three central defenders, but the manager’s options in this sector have been limited by the absence of Presnel Kimpembe for the remainder of the season with an Achilles tendon injury.

Captain Marquinhos escaped with a rib injury at the weekend while Nordi Mukiele also had to be substituted.

The former, whose mobility is so important in a defense with an aging Sergio Ramos, is expected to play even if he isn’t fully fit.

The presence of Mukiele would also be useful, although Achraf Hakimi could return as a right-back less than a week after being charged with rape.

PSG have said they support the Moroccan while the case is under investigation and the court case doesn’t stop the player from leaving France. –AFP Record-breaking Mbappe determined to lead PSG past Bayern

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