Mauricio Pochettino insists Paris Saint-Germain have the quality to beat Bordeaux even without suspended superstar Kylian Mbappe in the first of “11 finals in Ligue 1”.
With Neymar still recovering from an injury that has limited him to 18 appearances across all competitions, Mbappe has been PSG’s key man this season.
The World Cup winner has been involved in 32 goals (23 goals, nine assists) in 31 games, 15 more than the next-best PSG total (Neymar, 17) and 10 clear of his nearest Ligue 1 rival (Memphis Depay, 22).
Absent this time due to yellow card accumulation, Mbappe has missed five previous matches for PSG this term, of which they have lost three, scoring only five goals across these encounters.
But Pochettino is not looking for excuses against a side he briefly represented after leaving Paris as a player.
“[Mbappe] is one of the most important players on our team,” the coach said. “It will not be easy to replace him.
“But we have good players in our group and the collective has the tools to win games.
“Against Bordeaux, we also have the opportunity to show that we are a great team.”
PSG enter the midweek round of fixtures in second, two points behind Ligue 1 leaders Lille, although a run of four wins in five matches has closed the gap.
There remains work to do in the title race, but PSG have reached the stage of the season where important games are on the horizon across all competitions.
Every game is a final
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) March 2, 2021
Describing the “11 finals” in the league to the club’s media channels, Pochettino similarly emphasised the importance of beating Brest in the Coupe de France and capitalising on their Champions League advantage against Barcelona in his news conference.
However, that will not distract from the focus on Bordeaux, even if they have just one win in 19 attempts against PSG in Ligue 1.
“Three games in three different competitions is the reality,” Pochettino said. “But we will prepare the team as if we were only playing finals.
“For now, we think only of the Bordeaux game as if it were the last. I think thinking like that will help us achieve the goal of winning.
“We have to think only about our own performance. We have 11 games left in Ligue 1; we are focused on that and especially on the Bordeaux game.
“If we win the remaining 11 games, we will be champions.”