Kylian Mbappe is known for his speed, but the PSG and France star is in a real race to be fit in time for his club's Champions League quarterfinal showdown vs. Atalanta.
PSG confirmed Monday that Mbappe has "an ankle sprain with damage to the external ligament" and "is expected to be sidelined for approximately three weeks" after being on the end of a rash challenge in Friday's Coupe de France final vs. Saint-Etienne.
Mbappe was taken down in the open field by a sliding Loic Perrin, who scissored Mbappe's right leg with a two-footed tackle. Mbappe's ankle bent underneath him, and he remained down for a considerable amount of time before limping off. He returned with an ankle brace and on crutches in time for the final minutes of the 1-0 win and the trophy celebration, as PSG polished off a second piece of domestic silverware this season to go along with its Ligue 1 title following the abbreviated season. PSG, which was playing its first competitive match in over four months has one more domestic final to contest, this Friday's Coupe de la Ligue clash vs. Lyon.
Mbappe clearly won't be playing in that match, and all eyes will be on how rapidly he heals prior to the Aug. 12 one-off quarterfinal against Atalanta. In UEFA's revamped Champions League, brought on as a result of the pandemic, the eight quarterfinalists will gather in Portugal for a single-elimination sprint to the final. As opposed to the typical format, in which the quarterfinals and semifinals are two-legged affairs, each round will be single matches in a rapid run to the Aug. 23 title bout.
If Mbappe, the recently minted FIFA 21 cover star, isn't able to feature in the quarterfinals and PSG prevails without him, then the next match would be a semifinal against either RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid on Aug. 18. Those six extra days could make a massive difference, but they also might not be enough, depending on when PSG's three-week timeline began.
PSG has, for years, been under pressure to perform on the Champions League stage given the financial outlay to sign players like Mbappe, Neymar and numerous other stars. With the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man City and Juventus on the other side of the bracket, this reworked competition figures to be as good a chance as it's ever had of making a final. Whether it can do so without Mbappe–or without a fully fit one, at the very least–remains to be seen.