Sports Burst - Can Mbappe Find His Mojo?

Getty Images

 

By Tim Stannard

 

A Friday match against a leaky Montpellier can offer Mbappe the chance to rediscover his missing form for PSG 

 

Statistically speaking, Kylian Mbappe is having a perfectly satisfactory season with 12 Ligue 1 goals from 12 starts in the current campaign and five assists. That terrific-sounding tally puts Mbappe equal top of the rankings in France which, coincidentally, is where PSG are - tied on 42 points with Lille. 

Those 12 goals are more than Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have in LaLiga and just one less than Mohamed Salah at Liverpool, who appears to have shut up shop for the season anyway in terms of goals. 

Mbappe's shots at goal per 90 minutes are only one off from last season, and the French forward's 'expected goals' tally pretty much matches his actual goal rate.

 

Scratch a little deeper, though, and there is something definitely not quite right with the player this season. The 22-year-old has yet to score in four games in 2021 and has just two goals in the past eight matches. 

The dazzling fizz and smoothness is not there in Mbappe's play and chances which should be buried are not going in. Critics in France have been piling in perhaps for the first time in the footballer's career. 

Fortunately, Mbappe's talent bar is so high that he is currently performing as a 'top' striker rather than a 'world-class' striker. 

There are a lot of theories into the drop in Mbappe's form - effects of COVID-19 that was contracted in September, a compact season with little time for rest, covering for Neymar through injury, a disruptive line-up for PSG, a change of coach, transfer speculation. The list is long.

 

With PSG having a rare midweek off, it would have been a good time for the PSG's new Hugger-In-Chief, to start working on whatever is maligning Mbappe. However, Mauricio Pochettino is himself suffering from COVID-19 and can only look after affairs remotely. 

"He's ill, we're concerned, but he's still completely in charge," advised his assistant, Jesus Perez, who is set to be on the bench for today's Ligue 1 clash against Montpellier

Asked for his thoughts on what is ailing Mbappe, Perez was more keen to give his forward a morale boost - "we hope he'll show just what a great player he is. He's the league's top scorer. We're happy with his level of commitment."

Montpellier might be a good place for Mbappe to start feeling his old self again with today's visitors being enormously leaky with the fourth worst defence in the division, but fairly prolific up front.

PSG vs. Montpellier is live today on beIN SPORTS from 2:50PM ET. 

 

 

Zidane tests positive for COVID ahead of crucial Alaves clash 

 

No mojo problems for Luis Suarez. The Atletico Madrid striker put away a late penalty to give the Rojiblancos a 2-1 win at Eibar and give the team a seven-point lead over Real Madrid but still with a match-in-hand to play. 

 

Like a furniture store with a severe supply problem in the lounge department, there is no cushion whatsoever for Real Madrid. And that's a problem with the team very much out of form with just the single win in five matches in all competitions and reeling from back-to-back setbacks in the Spanish Supercopa and Copa del Rey. 

Matters were made even more challenging on Friday morning with Real Madrid announcing that Zidane had tested positive for COVID-19 and that his duties would be taken by his assistant, David Bettoni. At time of writing, there is no more information on Zidane's condition. 

The Real Madrid squad's next challenge is a trip up north to Alaves on Saturday, a side that is struggling but the kind that Real Madrid have dropped points against this season - Osasuna and Elche recently had the upper hand with draws. 

Alaves vs. Real Madrid is live on beIN SPORTS from 2:30PM ET and the Sports Burst live show will get the latest news on Zidane from Madrid on our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page at 12PM ET. 


>