PSG star Mbappé and Neymar excited as French league resumes

PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar could take their frustrations out on the World Cup in Strasbourg when the French league resumes on Wednesday.

Coach Christophe Galtier said on Tuesday that both players are ready for league leaders PSG’s game at Parc des Princes, although Mbappé has had little time to spare since France lost a wild World Cup final to Argentina in Qatar. on December 18.

Mbappé became the second player to score a hat trick in the final but was heartbroken after Les Bleus lost on penalties to Lionel Messi’s Argentina after a 3-3 draw.

Still, Mbappé returned to training with PSG just three days later.

“Kylian had great matches, he was the top scorer in the tournament (with eight goals),” Galtier said. “Her wish for him was to join us rather quickly. That does not mean that he will not have free time to recover later.

Galtier said Achraf Hakimi, who played for surprising semi-finalists Morocco, and Mbappe are ready for both Strasbourg and a crucial game at second-place Lens on New Year’s Day. The coach does not consider it a physical risk to select them in back-to-back games so soon after the tournament.

”I do not think. Hakimi and Mbappé wanted to come back and play these two games,” Galtier said. “As long as they are physically and mentally fit, there is no reason for us to miss playing against them.”

Neymar resumed training on December 22 and is highly motivated.

“From a psychological point of view, he really wants to play. That is a good sign, ”said Galtier, who assured that Neymar does not feel any lingering effects from the right ankle injury he suffered against Serbia at the start of the World Cup.

Neymar broke down in tears and couldn’t stop crying after Brazil lost to Croatia in the quarterfinals. He scored a magnificent solo goal to tie Pelé’s national team record of 77 goals, but Croatia equalized after extra time and then advanced on penalties. Brazil struggled in the penalty shootout to the point that Neymar didn’t even get a chance to take his team’s fifth kick.

Messi scored twice in the final and calmly converted his team’s first penalty in a tension-filled shootout against France, capping a remarkable tournament that strengthened his position as arguably the best player in the game and saw him join his idol Diego Maradona as World Cup winner.

Messi, 35, has been given extra time to celebrate his success in Argentina and is expected to resume training on January 3, Galtier said.

Even without having to face the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Strasbourg still has to face both of the league’s top scorers. Mbappé has 12 goals and Neymar is 11th and 19th. Strasbourg’s leaky defense could have a tough night.

Lens is five points behind second-place PSG and travels to the middle of the table for Nice on Thursday.

Third-placed Rennes is five points behind Lens and visits Reims, while fourth-placed Marseille hosts Toulouse, and those games will also be played on Thursday.

RAMSEY ABSENT

Nice manager Lucien Favre does not know when midfielder Aaron Ramsey will join the team.

Favre was asked about Ramsey at his pre-match press conference and said the Wales midfielder was still absent.

”No, he hasn’t come back yet. I think the World Cup was very difficult for him so we’ll see,” Favre said, adding that he has not tried to contact the player. ”No. He could do it, but there you have it.”

Ramsey played in all three of the national team’s World Cup matches in Qatar, where Wales finished bottom of their group.

“He is very disappointed with the World Cup,” Favre said. “He’s taking his time to really recover.”

Ramsey, who previously played for Arsenal and Juventus, has scored once in 16 games since joining Nice this season.

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