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PSG’s Kylian Mbappe shows benefits of Luis Enrique’s tough love in Nice Coupe de France win

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PARIS — Luis Enrique is starting to see a return on his treatment of Kylian Mbappe after the France international scored in a 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain win over OGC Nice to reach the Coupe de France semifinals. Mbappe, Fabian Ruiz and Lucas Beraldo all tallied to render Gaetan Laborde’s effort nothing more than consolation and now Les Parisiens face Stade Rennais for a place in the final ahead of what could be a domestic double at the end of this season.

After he was left out of the starting XI for the 2-2 draw with Stade de Reims last Sunday, Mbappe was recalled by Luis Enrique and made captain against Les Aiglons who beat the capital outfit at Parc des Princes in Ligue 1 earlier this campaign. It took just 14 minutes for the French superstar to score when he poked through former PSG goalkeeper Marcin Bulka’s legs to give the home side the lead against one of their title rivals until a recent dip in form for the Riviera outfit.

It was not the best of evenings for Bulka who conceded three times, including an appalling second for which he was solely responsible for gifting Ruiz an easy finish, and then saw Beraldo open his Parisien account before suffering a suspected broken nose in an extremely bloody incident. Laborde had threatened a fightback for Francesco Farioli’s side at 2-1 in the first half as PSG took their foot off the gas entirely but they managed to put it back on to re-establish a two-goal lead which eventually held.

Goncalo Ramos was unable to build on his recent strong goal-scoring form and came off after 74 minutes for Bradley Barcola, but Warren Zaire-Emery delivered another mature showing out of position while Gianluigi Donnarumma was sharp between the sticks. Defensive lapses remain a worry as Nuno Mendes continues to get minutes under his belt while Nordi Mukiele is clearly not fancied by Luis Enrique despite Achraf Hakimi’s approaching UCL suspension which is a bit puzzling given that it could weaken the midfield depending on the opponent.

Although it took Ruiz and Beraldo goals to make sure of the win and a final-four spot, Mbappe’s freshness was telling as it was last week in the UEFA Champions League when his two goals saw off Real Sociedad in San Sebastian. Assuming that Luis Enrique continues his policy of not fielding his star man every game, which seems likely given PSG’s dominant domestic position, then Mbappe’s European form and fitness should remain on point which is dangerous news for potential opponents between now and the end of this term.

It is understandable why the Spaniard would want Mbappe at his best in the Coupe de France given that they are almost three years without winning it despite being record 14-time champions. Now past a tricky Nice side, only Rennes and one of Olympique Lyonnais or Valenciennes FC remain for PSG to navigate before the final at Lille OSC’s Stade Pierre Mauroy which could be Mbappe’s final piece of Parisien silverware depending on how things go in Europe.

With Mbappe and the team rolling on in such form, though, it is difficult to feel too worried about PSG with Ligue 1 and Coupe de France success seemingly beckoning unless there is a major meltdown which seems less possible than in previous years. Friday’s Champions League quarterfinal draw could change that but for now Les Parisien advance and extend their impressive unbeaten run which dates back to November — little wonder the capital club’s Qatari owners are satisfied with Luis Enrique’s debut season so far. 

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