Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino wants to ensure they stay in the fight on two fronts.
His immediate attention is on defending the French league title despite eight defeats. On Saturday, they face a Strasbourg side which has previously roughed them up.
Should key players be rested to save them for finishing off Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the return leg of the Champions League quarterfinals? This is Pochettino’s dilemma.
“It’s clear that we’re playing a very physical team and it will be important for us to analyse which of our players is freshest to play in this game,” Pochettino said on Friday through a translator. “But we must also bear in mind that it’s not just a case of being fresh physically, and that it’s important to have the right quality.”
A win for league leader Lille at Metz later Friday would leave PSG six points behind, and under extra pressure heading to a Strasbourg side which isn't yet totally safe from relegation.
Neymar, at least, is spared another potentially bruising encounter against Strasbourg since he is suspended for getting sent off last weekend against Lille.
Central defender and club captain Marquinhos is out with a right adductor injury, and he will be reassessed on Sunday for the Bayern match on Tuesday.
It's also tough for Pochettino to rotate, given how many other players are missing.
Star midfielder Marco Verratti and right back Alessandro Florenzi are recovering from the coronavirus, while versatile midfielder Abdou Diallo is ill and left back Layvin Kurzawa is still not match fit.
Striker Mauro Icardi has been sidelined for three weeks with a thigh injury and is not ready, while left back Juan Bernat is in the final phase of returning from a serious knee injury early in the season.
So Pochettino is forced to decide whether it's worth picking 20-goal league top scorer Kylian Mbappe against Strasbourg. The alternative is starting with the consistent Moise Kean up front.
“It’s important for us to choose the players who are the most apt for this game, but without taking any kind of risk,” Pochettino added.
With the huge game against Bayern looming, and Marquinhos and Verratti uncertain to play in it, he may feel it's pointless to take chances with Mbappe.
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