Messi, Mbappe and Neymar set for first PSG reunion since World Cup

Trio all set to return for Ligue 1 trip to Rennes

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Paris Saint-Germain's fab three forwards Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are set to be reunited for the first time since the World Cup when the Ligue 1 leaders travel to take on Rennes on Sunday.

French striker Mbappe returned to training on Thursday after being given 10 days off after coming back from Qatar and playing in PSG's first two games following the tournament.

He had taken in an NBA game in New York along with teammate Achraf Hakimi and was absent as World Cup winner Messi returned to action, and scored, in PSG's 2-0 win over Angers on Wednesday.

The World Cup was a clear motivating factor in the trio's outstanding form during the early months of the campaign, and how they play together will be crucial in determining how the remainder of the season plays out for PSG.

They are six points clear of Lens before completing the first half of the season in Rennes, but the Champions League is their main objective.

After failing to come top of their group, Christophe Galtier's side were drawn to play Bayern Munich in the last 16, with the first leg at home set for February 14.

Galtier described the 35-year-old Messi as "relaxed and in great shape physically" after his first match since captaining Argentina to a penalty shoot-out victory over Mbappe's France in an epic World Cup final last month.

The question now is how much motivation the former Barcelona star has after that career-defining triumph.

PSG are keen to extend his contract in the French capital into a third season and Messi's biggest goal now will be to win the Champions League for the first time since 2015.

Fuelled by losing the World Cup final despite scoring a hat-trick, 2018 world champion Mbappe will be desperate to get his hands on the Champions League trophy for the first time.

Neymar, meanwhile, left the World Cup in tears as Brazil lost on penalties in the quarter-finals.

He was then sent off in PSG's first game post-Qatar against Strasbourg, completing a miserable end to 2022.

Galtier insists they still need time to get back up to speed.

"We are all just getting used to playing together again and you could see at times that we lacked some of the connections between the players that we had more often before the World Cup," he said after the midweek game.

Updated: January 13, 2023, 9:34 AM
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