Rest can wait as World Cup stars Mbappe, Neymar and Hakimi prepare for PSG call of duty


Kylian Mbappe was the World Cup’s Golden Boot winner, and Paris Saint-Germain will hope he shows such form against Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Christophe Galtier insists there is no risk involved in throwing his World Cup stars straight back into Ligue 1 action.

The likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi are set to face Strasbourg on Wednesday as the French top flight kicks back into gear.

A six-week break from domestic duties has seen PSG’s star names experience a rollercoaster of emotions and the intense scrutiny of national duties at the highest level.

Hakimi helped Morocco make history by becoming the first African semi-finalists, while Neymar had an injury-plagued campaign that ended with Brazil’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Croatia in the quarter-finals.

Mbappe then experienced the cruellest of fates when he became only the second man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, but finished second after France lost to Argentina.

It will be ten days since that loss at the Lusail Stadium when Mbappe takes on inferior domestic rivals and Galtier said: “I don’t think there is a risk.

“They wanted to play in these very important league games. Of course we will have to manage things in the coming weeks to see how Achraf Hakimi and Kylian Mbappe do.

“We’re thinking about it and we’ll have to find a fight time for them to rest.

That rest is likely to come sooner rather than later, with PSG having Champions League commitments from February, but for now Galtier believes his players are reliable judges of their readiness to play.

Head coach Galtier saw PSG pull five points clear of second-placed Lens ahead of the World Cup, and with a trip to Stade Bollaert-Delelis looming on Sunday, outsiders may see the match in Strasbourg as a soft landing ahead of their first big test. will arrive.

Galtier sees it as nothing, warning the 19th-placed visitors they are “playing for their lives” and suggesting PSG’s previous form doesn’t count.

Strasbourg have won just one of their 15 league games so far this season, while unbeaten PSG have 41 points from the same number of matches.

Strasbourg also have the highest expected goals scored against overall in Ligue 1 this season (28.52 xGA), indicating that their opponents have been able to create a high number of good scoring chances, while PSG have the lowest (15.06 xGA) and sent only nine goals. .

PSG are also unbeaten in 31 home games against Strasbourg in Ligue 1 (W24 D7), the longest run against a specific opponent by a Ligue 1 team without ever losing.

So on paper, Strasbourg has little to cling to. PSG are unbeaten at home in their last 36 home games across all competitions (W30 D6), since losing to Manchester City in the Champions League in April last year.

Perhaps the only saving grace for the Alsatian side is that they will not have to face World Cup winner Lionel Messi, who has been given an extended break by PSG.

Knowing that anything less than three points would be a disappointment, Galtier is preparing the team with utmost seriousness and backing them to respond.

“If you just focus on the table, that would be a big mistake,” Galtier said.

“We are starting from scratch. That’s what I told my players. We had a very good start to the season and we know why. The players had a serious attitude. They were demanding. They showed determination and humility.”

“They want to achieve something together and we all have to have the same mindset tomorrow after kick-off.”

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