At the peak of their inhouse fighting, Paris Saint Germain fans castigated super star Kylian Mbappe Lottin for refusing to sign a contract extension in order to force a lucrative switch to Real Madrid. A section of the club’s ultras even demonstrated against French Ligue One’s top scorer in each of the last six seasons, citing his failure to help the Parisians in their quest to win the Uefa Champions League as evidence of his lack of commitment. They had a point.
PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments are entitled to feel aggrieved that despite their relentless cash injections the club’s best ever performance in Europe’s premier club competition has been their 0-1 loss to Bayern Munich in the 2020 final. Their forays into the Champions League have otherwise degenerated into an annual ritual of acrimony with accusing fingers pointed at Mbappe and last summer’s marquee departures Lionel Messi, Neymar and Sergio Ramos.
Mbappe is a generational talent who has repeatedly proved his mettle with France’s national team, Les Bleus’ but unless he starts delivering for PSG in Europe, starting with tonight’s group F encounter with Newcastle United, he will forever be remembered at the Parc des Princes as the star who promised so much and delivered so little. It’s winner takes all as Luis Enrique’s Parisians go into the game in second place, a point behind group leaders Borussia Dortmund who travel to Italy to face seven time winners AC Milan. All four team can still progress to the knock out rounds.
Tourney favourites Manchester City have already qualified from group G but coach Pep Guardiola will demand a response to last Saturday’s one-all draw with Liverpool in order to seal top spot ahead of today’s opponents RB Leipzig. Club top scorer Erling Braut Haaland, who on Saturday became the fastest player to score 50 Premier League goals, has an opportunity to improve on his tally of four Champions League goals to date.
An even more fascinating contest for qualification is taking place in Rotterdam where Dutch Eredivisie champions Feyenoord host Atletico Madrid in a group F showdown. Diego Simeone’s Atleti are the tournament’s highest scorers but they let in quite a few, which is music to the ears of coach Arne Slot and his goal a game top scorer Santiago Gimenez. Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio host Brendan Rodgers’ 1967 winners Celtic in the other group rubber.
Lazio v Celtic,
Shakhtar Donetsk v Royal Antwerp,
Feyenoord v Atletico Madrid,
Paris SG v Newcastle United,
AC Milan v Borussia Dortmund,
Manchester City v RB Leipzig,
Young Boys v Red Star Belgrade,
Barcelona v FC Porto
Galatasaray v Manchester United,
Sevilla v PSV Eindhoven,
Bayern Munich v FC Copenhagen,
Arsenal v Racing Lens,
Real Madrid v Napoli,
Sporting Braga v Union Berlin,
Benfica v Inter Milan,
Real Sociedad v Salzburg