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Trophée des Champions Preview: Mbappé out, Wijnaldum in, for PSG

Publish on at - Lee Davey

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Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappé has been left out of Sunday's Trophée des Champions clash with Ligue 1 Uber Eats champions LOSC but midfielder Gini Wijnaldum has been included in Mauricio Pochettino's 23-man squad for the game in Tel Aviv.

Trophée des Champions
Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv 
LOSC – Paris Saint-Germain

Kick off at 20:00 GMT

Wijnaldum joined up with his new teammates 11 days ago after captaining the Netherlands at Euro 2020 and could make his debut in the season's curtain-raiser. Meanwhile Mbappé has stayed in Paris to continue his physical preparation ahead of the new season having only returned to training last week.

Wijnaldum, a free signing following his departure from Liverpool, is yet to feature in any of PSG's pre-season friendlies, but Pochettino was quick to pay tribute to his new recruit.

Praise

"We are very pleased to have him here. I think Gini Wijnaldum can contribute going forward and also defensively," said Pochettino ahead of Sunday's showpiece occasion. "He has the aggression that we need as a team. His experience and quality make him a player who can help in the same way, going forward and defensively. He can win the ball back and be aggressive, so I think he is a complete player."

PSG are also boosted by the return of Presnel Kimpembe and Danilo Pereira to the squad, after both were involved in the knockout stages of Euro 2020 with France and Portugal respectively.

The capital club will be searching for an unprecedented ninth consecutive Trophée des Champions win whilst aiming to strike an early psychological advantage over their title rivals ahead of the new season.

Mauro Icardi will be hoping to continue his good pre-season goal scoring form whilst academy graduates Arnaud Kalimuendo, Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe and Xavi Simons will be pushing for minutes after impressing in recent weeks. Idrissa Gana Gueye could continue his stint with the captain's armband against his former club.

No Excuses

Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos are among the players returning to the club next week, however Pochettino is still expecting his side to give a good account of themselves.

"We want to win every competition. All the players may not be available, but that won't be an excuse. We are Paris Saint-Germain, we want to win. We'll do everything to win this trophy, but it's not about revenge because Lille deserved their title."

Tel Aviv

The conditions in Tel Aviv could be testing for both sets of players with temperatures set to be around 28 degrees celsius at kick-off on Sunday night but Pochettino is embracing the Israeli capital and will be hoping his side can turn up the heat on their opponents.

"I am happy to come to Israel. This will be my first time in Tel Aviv. I am happy to discover a new city and a new country. We know it will be hot, but we played in Portugal, where it was also very hot so we think the players will be able to adapt. It will be the same for both teams anyway."

New man at the helm for the champions

Newly installed LOSC head coach Jocelyn Gourvennec knows it will be a tough task replicating the job his predecessor Christophe Galtier did at the club after leading Les Dogues to the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title in May.

Gourvennec took over the reins at LOSC in early July in what was a surprise appointment, and the former EA Guingamp coach has reiterated the importance of preparation ahead of Sunday's game.

"The most important thing is to prepare," said a focussed Gourvennec. "There is already a title to go and get. There are no small titles."

Sanches missing

Gourvennec may have to do without Renato Sanches, who was absent from training yesterday, as well as Zeki Çelik who will be suspended. Portuguese duo Xeka and Tiago Djalo could make the starting eleven despite exchanging blows in a recent friendly resulting in both players being sent-off.

LOSC will be hoping talisman Burak Yilmaz can replicate some of the form that helped fire Les Dogues to last season’s title after a disappointing Euro 2020 campaign.

Jonathan David will be available to partner the Turk up top for Jocelyn Gorvennec as he looks for ways to penetrate a make-shift PSG backline.

Gourvennec has hinted that goalkeeper Leo Jardim, who has played every friendly match so far, could start in Tel Aviv.

"He's been pretty comfortable, and we trust him," the new coach explained. "He returned well from his loan (at Boavista), now we have to get behind him."

LOSC, who are on the lookout for a new shot-stopper to replace the departed Mike Maignan, could decide to stick with the Portuguese if they are unable to sign another goalkeeper before their first league game against Metz next weekend.

Tight ship

The LOSC head coach will be hoping his central defensive partnership of José Fonte and Sven Botman can shut out PSG just as they did in their two league meetings last season.

Captain Fonte was a key man in LOSC recording the league's best defensive record last season (conceding 23 goals in 38 games) and the Portuguese veteran is keen to get his hands on more silverware on Sunday night.

"It's a real title. If we have the opportunity to win it, we will do everything we can. It gives us another trophy in the window," said a defiant Fonte. "We must continue to be ambitious, we are here to win. PSG are the favourites but with our quality and team spirit we will do everything to disturb them once again."

Probable Teams

LOSC: Jardim; Reinildo, Botman, Fonte, Pied; Araujo, André, Xeka, Bamba; David, Yilmaz

PSG: Navas; Hakimi, Kehrer, Diallo, Kurzawa; Herrera, Gueye, Dina Ebimbe; Draxler, Icardi, Kalimuendo

(Photo: Paris Saint-Germain)