Kylian Mbappe could return for Paris St-Germain in their Champions League quarter-final with Atalanta in Lisbon.
The Frenchman has recovered from an ankle injury and head coach Thomas Tuchel says Mbappe will feature if “nothing extraordinary happens”.
However, Tuchel did then suggest that Mbappe would most likely be used off the bench against the Italians.
“We are really pleased to have the possibility of finishing the match with Kylian on the pitch,” said Tuchel.
“That gives Neymar someone who likes playing alongside him.”
World cup winner Mbappe, 21, sprained his ankle during PSG’s French Cup final win over Saint-Etienne on 24 July, but he has recovered in time for the ‘Final Eight’ stage of the Champions League.
The French champions have not reached the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition since the Qatari takeover almost a decade ago.
‘Extra motivation’ for Atalanta
Champions League debutants Atalanta have been the surprise package of this year’s competition but manager Gian Piero Gasperini said the suffering in the club’s home city of Bergamo following the coronavirus outbreak provides “extra motivation” to his side.
“We know the level of expectation that there is around this match, and how much passion there is for Atalanta in Bergamo and the surrounding province,” said Gasperini.
“There is extra motivation for us after what has happened. We have to represent our city in the best possible way and give the people something to smile about.”
Bergamo, near Milan in northern Italy, was one of the worst hit regions in Italy when the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak there earlier this year.
At one point the army was called in to take away coffins because local morgues could not cope with the number of virus deaths.
Atalanta finished third for the second successive season in Serie A, and Gasperini says his players are in “great condition”.
“We have shown that without being a big club or having massive investment it is possible to do well in the Champions League with passion, good football and desire,” said the 62-year-old, who will be without midfielder Josip Ilicic because of personal reasons.
The Slovenian scored all four goals in the 4-3 win at Valencia in the last-16 second leg.
- This will be the first competitive game between Atalanta and Paris Saint-Germain. Atalanta’s only previous encounter with a French club in European competition was against Lyon in the 2017/18 Uefa Europa League group stages – the Bergamo side drew 1-1 in France and won 1-0 at home.
- Paris Saint-Germain have never won a single game against Italian opposition in the Uefa Champions League (D4 L2). They’ve also never kept a clean sheet in those six matches.
- PSG are in the quarter-finals of the Uefa Champions League for the first time since 2015/16. They haven’t reached the final four of the competition since 1994/95 – that season, they were knocked out by AC Milan (0-3 agg.), the only previous time they have faced Italian opposition in the knockout stages of the competition.
- PSG have played two competitive games in the last five months (Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue finals on 24th and 31st July respectively) whilst Atalanta have played 13, winning nine of those games (D3 L1).
- PSG have scored in each of their last 32 Uefa Champions League games, currently the longest run in the competition. The last time they failed to find the net was against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the 2015/16 edition.
- Neymar has scored 12 goals in his last 16 Uefa Champions League knockout games. In fact, since 2014/15, only Cristiano Ronaldo (33), Lionel Messi (16) and Robert Lewandowski (14) have found the net on more occasions than the PSG forward in the latter stages of the competition.
- Despite losing their opening three games this season, Atalanta are the first Uefa Champions League debutants to reach the quarter-finals of the competition since Leicester City in 2016/17 and the first Italian side to do so since Lazio in the 1999/00 campaign.
- Atalanta have won their last four Uefa Champions League games, the longest current run alongside Bayern Munich. They have also scored eight goals in their two knockout games so far (vs Valencia), as many as they did in their six group games.
- Atalanta have conceded more goals than any other remaining team in this season’s competition (16 in eight games). They also have the highest Expected Goals Against tally among the final eight (16.7).
- Josip Ilicic has scored five of Atalanta’s last seven Uefa Champions League goals. He’s also won more penalties than any other player in this season’s competition (3).