Yesterday, Paris Saint-Germain confirmed that star striker Kylian Mbappe would miss up to three weeks with a thigh injury, ruling him out for the upcoming Champions League clash against Bayern Munich later this month. The statement was pretty cut-and-dried, leaving little room for interpretation.
Julian Nagelsmann, however, doesn’t seem to be buying it. Asked about the injury ahead of the team’s upcoming game against Wolfsburg, the Bayern coach cast doubt on the whole thing.
Nagelsmann on Mbappé: "I don't believe he's going to miss the game. I expect him to play. I don't know what he has. The statement on PSG's website is pretty vague. I can't imagine him missing the game." pic.twitter.com/WvlVPfA37x— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) February 3, 2023
Honestly, this tiny bit of gamesmanship is completely harmless but might serve an important purpose. It helps keep the media and the fanbase from getting too carried away with speculation, and it also keeps Bayern as a whole wary about the threat of PSG. Complacency can kill a team in the Champions League, and the Bavarians have been especially guilty of it in the past. Nagelsmann wants to keep his group focused, and that’s hard if the media/fans start acting as if Bayern have won already.
Also, it’s a bit of a media game — maybe now, French journalists will get back to Galtier saying, “Hey, Nagelsmann said this, what’s your response?” If that happens, their coach’s attention, however briefly, will be distracted from the job at hand. PSG actually went out of their way to not explicitly confirm Mbappe’s absence against Bayern, so forcing them to do so might be a psychological blow.
This might be thinking too much into it, but Nagelsmann was nicknamed the “mini-Mourinho” in the past. Mourinho is famous for his media mind games. Maybe Nags is just picking up the mantle?