French League Cup Final Tips: PSG set to labour without star man Mbappe
Thomas Tuchel's side are not the same without their 21-year-old World Cup winner so the door's open for Lyon to exceed market expectations, writes James Eastham...
PSG vs Lyon French League Cup Final Fri, 20:10 BST Live on BT Sport 2
Absence of Mbappe the key factor
PSG collected another piece of silverware when they won the French Cup last weekend but their laboured 1-0 victory over St Etienne will mainly be remembered for the brutally ill-timed tackle by St Etienne skipper Loic Perrin on Kylian Mbappe that left the France international close to tears and PSG's Champions League hopes potentially in tatters.
Mbappe has been told it will take three weeks for his ankle to heal so it's touch and go whether he will play any part in Paris' Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta in Lisbon on August 12. PSG are 2.40 to see of the Serie A side in 90 minutes and 6.80 tournament third favourites behind Manchester City and Bayern Munich but the odds on a PSG triumph are decidedly less attractive now that Mbappe's participation is in the balance (read our in-depth guide to their Champions League chances here).
The more immediate impact of Mbappe's absence is that PSG are less likely to have things their own way against Lyon in the League Cup final this weekend. Paris remain favourites and it would be a surprise if Thomas Tuchel's side failed to win in 90 minutes but anyone watching the narrow victory over St Etienne would have noticed how sluggish PSG's build-up play was after Mbappe left the field.
Opposing PSG holds appeal
Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi can be lethal, of course, but PSG move more predictably through the lines without the turn of speed that Mbappe provides to PSG to break through opposing defences. From the moment against St Etienne that he left the field shortly after the half-hour mark PSG were more ponderous in the final third and were ultimately unable to add to the early Neymar goal (14 minutes) that had been fashioned by - yes, you guessed it - a trademark Mbappe burst of pace.
The 1.50 price on a PSG win this weekend holds little appeal and there may even be some value in opposing them on the Asian Handicap. When the market has liquidity Paris will be available at odds around 2.10 with a -1.0&-1.5 start and after their travails against St Etienne there must be a question mark against their chances of winning by two or more goals (for a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here).
Depay and Dembele the duo to watch
Lyon go into the game with better team news. In goal no.2 Ciprian Tatarusanu will start although the difference in class between him and no.1 Anthony Lopes is relatively small. The only other notable absentee is Youssouf Kone (injured) although there's some debate as to whether he's a first-choice player as Maxwel Cornet is now a viable option in the left wing-back role.
Lyon manager Rudi Garcia looks set to use a 3-5-2 formation. Bruno Guimaraes and France U21 international Houssem Aouar are the midfielders to watch, while Memphis Depay (pictured above) playing off Moussa Dembele is a potentially lethal attacking partnership. The pair were both on the scoresheet in Lyon's recent 2-1 friendly win over Celtic, and Lyon their underlined their attacking depth when Karl Toko Ekambi and Bernard Traore netted in Lyon's 3-2 friendly win over Gent on July 22.
Despite Lyon's scoring form, however, the chances of high goals in the game generally appear overrated. We saw PSG fall flat after Mbappe left the field last weekend, and Lyon's 3-5-2 is as much designed to contain PSG as to create scoring opportunities. At 1.55 a lay of Over 2.5 Goals could create good in-play trading opportunities, with a lay of Over 3.5 Goals at 2.20 an alternative.