A record-breaking Kylian Mbappé is just one of the reasons Paris Saint-Germain can overcome Bayern Munich in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday.
PSG trail Bayern 1-0 after their first-leg reverse at the Parc des Princes, Paris academy graduate Kingsley Coman getting the only goal of the game in which Mbappé came off the bench to score two goals that were disallowed for offside.
Mbappé had been wrestling with a hamstring injury before the first leg, but he is fully fit and firing ahead of the second. The France superstar is just one of five reasons PSG can pull of the comeback.
1) A fit and firing Mbappé
There can be little doubt that Mbappé looks like the next player who might dominate the Ballon d'Or in the post-Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo era. A FIFA World Cup winner with France as a teenager, he is now PSG's all-time top scorer at 24.
He moved past Edinson Cavani and onto 201 goals as Paris beat FC Nantes 4-2 on Saturday, and would have hit the landmark sooner had those two strikes not been disallowed on the first leg.
Bayern had no answer for Mbappé after he came on for Carlos Soler with little more than half an hour left at the Parc des Princes. Don't expect them to have a solution for him across 90 minutes on Wednesday.
2) M and M > MNM
Neymar Jr. suffered a sprained ankle as PSG beat OOSC 4-3 last month, but his loss has been PSG's gain, with the team looking more balanced with the Brazilian sidelined.
With Neymar completing the 'MNM' front three, PSG effectively find themselves defending with seven outfield players. Without him, it's eight, and such fine margins matter in an 11-a-side sport.
In the two-and-a-half games since Neymar's injury, Mbappé and Messi have combined for seven goals and three assists. The most fearsome front two in world football, Bayern won't be pleased to see them unleashed.
3) A classic victory
PSG went into the first leg against Bayern on the back of two losses, one of them a Classique defeat to Olympique de Marseille in the Coupe de France. Confidence took a hit when the Germans made it three defeats on the spin for les Rouge-et-Bleu.
The bounce into this second leg on the back of three wins, one of them a Classique vicory, with PSG avenging their loss to OM when they met in Ligue 1 Uber Eats - a game in which Mbappé and Messi combined for all three goals in a 3-0 win.
In other words, PSG's confidence has rebounded.
"It was already very important to break a spiral," said PSG coach Christophe Galtier. "Does it unite the players around a project or a state of mind? I think so. It's always better to prepare for big matches with victories."
Watch: Highlights of PSG's 3-0 win over Marseille
4) Away day Rouge-et-Bleus?
Paris and Bayern are becoming old enemies on the European stage, Coman's winner last month the second time inside three years the native Parisian had frustrated his first club following the Champions League final in 2020.
Bayern may have prevailed then, but the last four meetings between these sides have resulted in away day victories, with Maurcio Pochettino's PSG beating Bayern 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the 2021/22 edition. Mbappé scored twice that day…
5) Sommer and red cards
Bayern goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer broke his leg skiing following Germany's exit from the winter World Cup in Qatar, and the Bavarians drafted Yann Sommer in from Borussia Monchengladbach as his replacement.
While the Switzerland No.1 matches Neuer for almost every goalkeeping stat imaginable, there is a palpable difference for defensive actions outside the box - Neuer averaging twice as many defensive actions outside the box as Sommer over the last year.
While Sommer himself doesn't get sent off very often, his propensity to stay on his line led to Pavard's sending off in the first leg and Dayot Upamecano's against Gladbach in the next game. A ball over the top, with Mbappé rushing on, is an area of concern for Bayern.