Regardless of how France’s Kylian Mbappe fares on international duty against both the Netherlands and Scotland during the October break, the Paris Saint-Germain man is soon to be goalless over a calendar month at club level after firing a fourth consecutive blank on Sunday. Luis Enrique’s men are next in action against RC Strasbourg Alsace later this month and it will have been one full month since Mbappe last scored — with a penalty in the UEFA Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund — by the time that game takes place at Parc des Princes.
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The French superstar has failed to find the net pre-injury against Olympique de Marseille as well as Clermont Foot 63, Newcastle United and now Stade Rennais although his goals were not needed at Roazhon Park in Ligue 1 on Sunday as Les Parisiens won 3-1 despite his growing dry spell. The in-form Achraf Hakimi led the capital club to victory in Brittany with a goal and an assist on top of a superb Vitinha effort and a much-needed strike for substitute Randal Kolo Muani despite Amine Gouiri giving Bruno Genesio’s hosts hope of a comeback early in the second half.
The Morocco international turned provider for the French striker while Ousmane Dembele teed up the Portuguese midfielder’s sumptuous effort and teenage sensation Warren Zaire-Emery contributed another assist from midfield for Hakimi himself to head in. Luis Enrique needed a reaction from his players after a chastening 4-1 midweek thrashing at the hands of Newcastle in the Champions League, and although Mbappe was not part of that, it was exactly the result and performance that the Spanish tactician needed to see from his players.
“Kylian did not score here but he has been at a very high level since the start of the season,” said the 53-year-old of his star man postgame despite a glaring miss late on with the goal gaping after rounding Steve Mandanda. “He did good things — made passes and created chances. It is true that it is a bit strange that he did not score here, but it is anecdotal to me. I remember what Kylian brings to the team in both attack and defense.”
Rennes had won their last two against PSG without even conceding a goal so for the French champions to come away with a reasonably convincing victory as well as having ended one of the only two remaining unbeaten records in the French topflight was ideal pre-internationals. Mbappe, though, continues to traverse an unfamiliar barren run after what had been a prolific start to the campaign following a difficult preseason which has resulted in a distinct deficit in terms of fitness levels compared with his teammates, only made worse by a recent ankle knock.
The Frenchman was expected to rest against Clermont before Newcastle but then ended up going 90 in both and looking extremely frustrated in front of goal with the outing against the Magpies particularly bleak, barely registered a shot at goal at St. James’ Park. Perhaps playing a mix of competitive and friendly soccer with France over this next week or so will be ideal for Les Bleus’ captain as he seeks to get back to scoring ways and plays catch up with most of his teammates in terms of their physical readiness in a less pressurized environment.
PSG have some big games coming up post-internationals with a doubleheader against Milan on the horizon as well as an away day at Ligue 1 surprise package Stade Brestois 29 coming off the back of the Strasbourg fixture in Paris later this month by which time Mbappe will hope to be scoring again. Should he not be back to something closer to his best by then, the 24-year-old could find himself linked with the continued difficulties Luis Enrique is experiencing in trying to build a coherent Parisien attack with Mbappe, Kolo Muani, Dembele, Goncalo Ramos and Bradley Barcola all affected.
Marco Asensio should be back post-October break too which further increases competition for places in attack. That could ratchet up the scrutiny on Mbappe even further if he is not back and firing in front of goal by then. The Spain international’s pre-injury form could also be a threat to the emerging all-French attacking unit which cannot afford to keep accommodating passengers while PSG’s form lurches from very convincing to far from it almost on a game-by-game basis with much of that rooted in a lack of consistent cutting edge up top.