PARIS — After scoring goals for France in European Championship qualifying, Kylian Mbappe needs to start scoring again for Paris Saint-Germain.
Mbappe’s three goals in qualifying this month came against the Netherlands and Scotland, and they helped Les Bleus clinch a spot at Euro 2024.
Those goals brought him to 43 for the national team at the age of only 24. That’s already two more than France great Michel Platini, with only Olivier Giroud (54), Thierry Henry (51) and Antoine Griezmann (44) left ahead of him.
But after scoring eight goals in his first five games for PSG this season, Mbappe has not found the net in the past four.
He was ineffective, too, when PSG lost to Newcastle 4-1 in the Champions League two weeks ago.
PSG coach Luis Enrique might choose to rest Mbappe in the French league on Saturday against Strasbourg because the club has a big game against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
But with PSG in third place and two points behind leader Monaco, not starting Mbappe against Strasbourg could be risky given how reliant the team is on him now that Lionel Messi and Neymar have left.
Forward Randal Kolo Muani has scored only two goals since joining from Eintracht Frankfurt for 95 million euros ($101 million) and speedy winger Ousmane Dembele has not scored in nine matches since arriving from Barcelona for 50.4 million euros ($55.2 million).
Mbappe is PSG’s all-time leading scorer with 220 goals from just 269 games. But Strasbourg, which is in 11th place, has one of the league’s best goalkeepers in Belgium international Matz Sels.
Since joining Strasbourg from Anderlecht five years ago, Sels has 37 shutouts in 153 games for the sixth-best total in the league over that time – an impressive statistic given that he’s played for a team more used to defending.
A physical and imposing keeper who likes to play high up the field, Sels will look to impose himself on PSG’s attack.
“In the penalty area, you have to show everyone that it’s your home. For example, when you have one-on-one situations you have to let the attacker now that he´s not welcome there,” Sels told the French league’s website.
“If you win the first couple of contests, then it becomes more difficult psychologically for him. It’s very important to make the striker doubt himself.”
Mbappe rarely doubts himself – his hat trick for France in last year’s World Cup final illustrated that – but a fifth game without scoring for PSG would be a concern.
Especially with the Milan game coming up.
Second-place Nice is the only unbeaten team in the league and faces Marseille on Saturday, while first-place Monaco hosts Metz on Sunday.
Nice has the best defense in the league with only four goals conceded in eight games. Monaco boasts the best attack with 21 scored.
Veteran striker Wissam Ben Yedder has scored five goals for Monaco while 22-year-old United States forward Folarin Balogun has netted three times since joining from Premier League club Arsenal during the offseason.