Match 64
Game Details
Match 63
Game Details

PSG's Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar primed for wounded Monaco

For any team in Europe so far this season, the prospect of facing Paris Saint-Germain has been daunting, borderline scary.

Monaco, though, will at least be happy about one thing before hosting the Parisians on Sunday evening: this huge clash is in Ligue 1 and not in the Champions League. Their form in Europe has been dreadful this season with just two draws and four defeats leading to a humiliating exit from all European competitions.

At least in Ligue 1, they are not doing so badly. The champions have as many points as they had at this stage last season, 29, when they shocked PSG by clinching their first French title in 17 years. Despite being solid domestically, however, they still trail PSG by six points. It is not a huge gap but it is a significant one after just 13 matches.

Leonardo Jardim's men have tried hard to follow the incredible tempo PSG have set. They had some very convincing wins against Marseille (6-1) and at Bordeaux (2-0) and they are still unbeaten at home in Ligue 1 but they have also lost at Nice (4-0) and Lyon (3-2) as well as dropping points in a 1-1 draw at newly promoted Amiens last weekend.

After the mass exit of last summer -- Bernardo Silva, Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Nabil Dirar and Valere Germain all left the club -- there has been a slow adaptation from new signings Youri Tielemans and Keita Balde. The injuries to key players Thomas Lemar and Djibril Sidibe, who will miss the clash with PSG, has made it a very difficult job rebuilding for Jardim.

On top of that, some of the leaders are not performing at their best. Fabinho in midfield hasn't been good enough and Jemerson, the Brazilian centre-back, was so bad in Tuesday's 4-1 defeat against RB Leipzig that L'Equipe gave him 1 out of 10 in their player ratings.

Radamel Falcao, with 13 goals in 10 league matches and two in four in the Champions League, is the only one to carry this team. He can't do everything by himself though.

Paris Saint-Germain have enjoyed a flying start to the season, with Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar impressing.

So this encounter either comes at the worst time for a team still shocked by their pathetic Champions League exit or at the best, because this is the perfect occasion to redeem themselves.

PSG, the champions elect, don't have the worries Monaco have. Their start to the season has been near perfect: 16 wins, two draws. On Wednesday against Celtic in the Champions League, they showed once again their incredible attacking powers with a stunning 7-1 win.

They have scored 67 goals in their 18 matches in all competitions this season, an average of 3.72 per game. The "MCN" -- Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar -- have been on fire with Cavani on 21 goals in 17 matches, Neymar 13 in 14 and Mbappe with seven in 14. The trio's 41 goals make them the deadliest attack in Europe by far. Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City are only on 31, for example. Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic are on 26 for Juventus, which is just one more than Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Paulinho for Barcelona.

When PSG's big three play as a team and for each other, like they did in midweek with the full-backs coming forward, midfielders getting the ball back high on the pitch and getting involved, they are almost unstoppable.

It also feels like the players learnt a lesson from their only real disappointing performance this season, a 2-2 draw away at Marseille. They took that game too lightly, didn't play with the right attitude and almost lost. This won't happen again on Sunday at Monaco, even against a team low in confidence.

This is still a test for PSG, one of the biggest of the season to date. And their fans expect a reaction from the team that lost 3-1 at the Stade Louis II last season in a superb game of football.

But this is not the same Monaco side this time -- and not the same PSG team either.

Julien Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter: @LaurensJulien.


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