Forgotten man Julian Draxler to get chance vs. Saint-Etienne with Kylian Mbappe suspended
Paris Saint-Germain will be without one of their star men at home to Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Friday in Kylian Mbappe.
However, the France World Cup winner's absence through suspension means that Julian Draxler, something of a forgotten man at Parc des Princes since coach Thomas Tuchel's arrival, should get a rare chance to impress his fellow German.
Since taking over for Unai Emery this summer, Tuchel has largely insisted on playing his players in their strongest positions -- although Marquinhos is being used to plug the hole in defensive midfield -- which puts Draxler in competition with the likes of Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria in attack.
The Germany international was crowbarred into central midfield by Emery and although he performed admirably at times, he, like Giovani Lo Celso, fell short at key moments.
Tuchel has recognised that Di Maria, who helped Real Madrid to a Champions League title from central midfield, is more adept at that sort of positional change and prefers the Argentina international's abilities in combination with Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani more than Draxler's.
With Mbappe banned against Saint-Etienne and Neymar undoubtedly fatigued after international duty with Brazil, Draxler should join Di Maria and Cavani in leading Tuchel's attack against Les Verts and it is a great opportunity for him to remind his compatriot of what he can do.
The 24-year-old played in Cavani for the final goal in the 4-2 win away at Nimes ahead of the international break, which saw Mbappe dismissed for the first time in his fledgling career, and it could hint that he is finally up to speed fitness-wise after a far from ideal preseason.
Draxler has been reduced to a bit-part role so far this campaign and considering how well Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar have started this term, that may well continue.
However, if the former Schalke 04 and Wolfsburg man can make a meaningful contribution against Saint-Etienne, it could stand him in good stead moving forward for when Tuchel needs to rotate his other attacking stars.
According to L'Equipe, Mbappe and Teji Savanier's suspensions will be revisited after Nimes appealed to the French Football Federation (FFF), so PSG's No. 7 may well be back after sitting out this week's clash.
The likelihood is that Mbappe will have to miss at least one more game, but it is unlikely to be the original three that he was hit with, which adds greater importance to the Saint-Etienne and Rennes encounters for Draxler.
Giving the popular German a chance to stake his claim makes more sense than starting Neymar with the club's Champions League Group C opener vs. Liverpool coming up on Tuesdau -- although Tuchel also has Christopher Nkunku as an option.
Draxler could also be a useful substitute option if things are not going according to plan at Anfield, thanks to his taste for the big occasions.
PSG's start to the season has been steady if unspectacular and mid-table Saint-Etienne are unlikely to cause them too many problems. That being said, the 10-time French champions are never easy customers and a home draw against them, as well as a loss away at eventual champions Monaco, unnerved Emery's side back in 2016.
Tuchel will want to avoid a similar outcome, so carefully handling and using a motivated Draxler to his advantage could pay big dividends as continental competition comes into play.
Otherwise, Marco Verratti should return in midfield, while new signings Juan Bernat and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting could both play some part as Tuchel prepares his troops for battle on multiple fronts.