Lionel Messi, PSG

Messi out for PSG at Lyon

Messi out for PSG at Lyon

Publish on 01/07 at 13:13 - I. HOLYMAN


Lionel Messi will not make a highly anticipated return to competitive action for Paris Saint-Germain as the decimated Ligue 1 Uber Eats' leaders head to Lyon for Sunday's heavyweight encounter (kick-off 8:45pm).



Messi did not return from his native Argentina as scheduled following the winter break after a positive COVID-19 test, and though he has since shaken off the virus and returned to training on Thursday he will not be featuring at the Groupama Stadium in the Round 20 fixture.


Seeing the seven-time Ballon d'Or step out onto the pitch would have been a major boost for coach Mauircio Pochettino, who has seen even his well-stocked squad ripped up by illness and injury.


While Neymar remains in Brazil recovering from a twisted ankle and Juan Bernat is also out, Achraf Hakimi, Idrissa Gueye and Abdou Diallo are at the Africa Cup of Nations, a host of players have come down with COVID: Angel Di Maria, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Layvin Kurzawa, Sergio Rico, Danilo Pereira and Julian Draxler.


WATCH: See what happened when the pair met earlier this season





With a third goalkeeper, Alexandre Letellier, sidelined by injury, Keylor Navas is PSG's only senior custodian as Pochettino looks for his side to build on their 4-0 Coupe de France win over amateur side Vannes on Monday and arrest a mini-slump in league form.


The frontrunners have a healthy 13-point advantage at the top of the table, but have won just once in their last four league games. They do, however, boast a Kylian Mbappé in sizzling form with the France international hitting a hat-trick against Vannes in his first outing of the new year.


"I'm happy, we took the game seriously," said Mbappé, who is now in the final six months of his current PSG contract. "It wasn't easy, it wasn't an easy game. We did what had to be done. We're happy to go home having qualified. For 2022, you can wish me good health, happiness and lots of trophies with PSG and the national team."


Mbappé has struck eight goals against Lyon in his Ligue 1 career, more than against any other team, and he will fancy his chances of adding to his tally of nine league goals this term with OL struggling for form.


WATCH: Lorient hold PSG before Christmas





Following the crowd disturbances that caused their Coupe de France tie at Paris FC before Christmas to be abandoned, Lyon were disqualified from the competition and so are yet to play in 2022. 


The seven-time French champions limped into the festive break with three successive draws and a run of just one win in six top-flight outings that left Peter Bosz's men in 13th place on 24 points, the club's joint-lowest tally of the 21st century.


Bosz can count on Lucas Paqueta, Thiago Mendes and Xherdan Shaqiri — all of whom have recovered from bouts of COVID-19 — though Karl Toko Ekambi, Islam Slimani and Tino Kadewere are all at the AFCON while Sinaly Diomandé and Jason Denayer both remain short of match fitness following injury.


Probable teams

Lyon: Lopes; Dubois (cap.), Boateng, Lukeba, Emerson; Caqueret, Guimarães; Cherki, Paqueta, Aouar; Dembélé.


PSG: Navas; Dagba (or Kehrer), Marquinhos (cap.), Ramos, Bernat; Michut, Verratti, Herrera; Wijnaldum, Icardi, Mbappé.


>> AFCON 2022: All the Ligue 1 representatives