Kylian Mbappe has been the focal point of the upcoming Champions League Round of 16 tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
The Parisian juggernaut are heading into this game with a narrow one-goal advantage from the first leg, but things could get tricky at Santiago Bernabeu, with Los Blancos keen on sparking a comeback.
PSG’s chances of advancing were hit further by reports suggesting Kylian Mbappe might not be fit for the encounter. The French international had missed the recent Ligue 1 clash against OGC Nice through suspension, and while the forward was fit, he had reportedly sustained a foot injury during training on Monday.
The prospect of Mbappe missing out could be significant for PSG, as the 23-year-old is by far their most dangerous attacker. With 24 goals and 17 assists in just 34 competitive matches, the forward has had an exemplary record this season. He even scored the late winner that granted PSG a slender lead in the first leg.
Quite unsurprisingly, the possibility of Mbappe missing the return leg at Santiago Bernabeu has left the Spanish media on fire. The infamous El Chiringuito has recently delivered a segment, suggesting Real Madrid players do not believe Mbappe is injured.
The segment comes just a day after reports that claimed the Frenchman has a considerable chance of making the squad. After being challenged by Idrissa Gueye during training, the 23-year-old is expected to test himself during the team’s last training session on Tuesday, hoping to recover in time before Wednesday evening.
PSG had issued an official statement, promising an update on Mbappe’s fitness today. It appears they are hopeful of the Frenchman’s comeback, although his failure to do so could be catastrophic for Les Parisiens.
Without Mbappe, Mauricio Pochettino is expected to deploy Lionel Messi in a central role, with both Neymar and Angel Di Maria operating out wide. Former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, meanwhile, has been ruled out on a potential return to Bernabeu due to injury.
Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report
Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.
The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.
Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.
This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.
Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia
Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.
With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.
This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.
Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
What are Ancelotti’s other options?
Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.
The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.
Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.
Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.