A revitalised Manchester United will fancy their chances against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 blockbuster tonight as the French giants come into the tie without two-third of their fearsome front three following injuries to Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel must find a way to cope without the star duo to halt the surge of a confident United that have won 10 of the last 11 games under interim manager Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer.
Neymar will miss both legs of the tie due to a foot injury and will joined on the sidelines by Cavani due to a hip problem and Belgian international Thomas Meunier with concussion.
Midfielder Marco Verratti, who returned from a three-week injury layoff for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Bordeaux, and new signing Leandro Paredes are also lacking match sharpness.
With the deck stacked this way, the spotlight is on 20-year-old Mbappe to shine on the Champions League stage like he did in delivering the World Cup for France.
“It’s not really his job to replace Cavani and Neymar, he can’t be himself and the other two at the same time,” warned Tuchel.
“He has to be free to play his game, play with confidence. We have to help him with the right support and good service.
Tuchel hinted that United’s current form makes them favourites for the first leg on Tuesday, but warned his side to remain in the tie for the return in Paris on March 6.
“Over 180 mins I would say it is a 50-50 game,” said Tuchel. “If it’s tomorrow with the home side at Old Trafford, if it is a 50-50 game in this moment I am not sure.
“We have a second leg in Paris where we feel very strong and comfortable in the Parc des Princes.”
Solskjaer, who was back in Norway as Molde manager watching the December draw that paired the sides, has completely revived United’s fortunes and is confident heading into the tie.
“We’ve given ourselves the best possible opportunity with the way we’ve gone into this game because we are confident,” added the Norwegian.
“I’ve found out what kind of team we have. We are playing like a team, we are agreeing on how we should approach games. If there was ever a time to go into big games like this it is now.”
In the night’s other game, Roma come into the last 16 looking to shrug off their winter woe that saw them suffer an embarrassing a 7-1 Coppa Italia defeat by Fiorentina, along with several Serie A setbacks.
But they are unbeaten in their last six league outings and will be delighted to be back in Champions League action.
This competition brought the best out of the Giallorossi last season, and they have a score to settle with Porto considering their play-off elimination in 2016.