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CL preview: PSG and Barcelona visit Italy, Atletico hosts Dortmund

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There’s a star-studded lineup on Tuesday in the Champions League, and one of the biggest stars could make his return earlier than expected.

Lionel Messi was included in the Barcelona squad that visits in-form Internazionale on Tuesday, and while he’s not expected to start, he could make his return from a broken arm that has kept the superstar out for the last two weeks. Messi was expected to miss more time, but was included int he squad despite confirmation that he is training despite not yet receiving clearance from the medical staff to play.

With or without Messi, Barcelona visits Inter in a scintillating matchup of in-form sides. Barcelona leads La Liga and hasn’t lost in any competition since a late September miss at Leganes. Meanwhile, since a mid-September loss to Parma, Inter’s only defeat has come to this Messi-less Barcelona team in the reverse fixture two weeks ago. They have beaten good teams such as AC Milan, Lazio, and Tottenham over that time. A draw or win would confirm Barcelona as through to the next round, while a win for Inter would do the same, although both teams appear all but clearly on their way.

Mauro Icardi was rested for the 5-0 thumping of Genoa last time out, but the Argentine has five goals in his last three Serie A matches and is white-hot form. Meanwhile, Luis Suarez is on a similarly torrid streak, with six goals in his last three league games, including an El Clasico hat-trick.

Elsewhere, Napoli hosts Paris Saint-Germain. Napoli brings good goalscoring form into the match, with at least two goals in four of its last five matches across all competitions. PSG is steamrolling the French league again, but sits third in Group C and desperately needs a win to feel better about advancing. Kylian Mbappe did not score in the 2-2 draw the last time these teams met, but has bagged seven goals in his last four Ligue 1 matches and hopes to bring that form with him into Champions League play.

Borussia Dortmund heads west to visit Atletico Madrid with both teams far and away the leaders in Group A. Similarly to the Barcelona vs. Inter game, a draw or win would see the German side officially advance, while Atletico would go through with a win or potentially could confirm advancement with a draw plus help. England youngster Jadon Sancho is the man to watch in Madrid, having pushed Christian Pulisic for Dortmund minutes thanks to his ridiculous form, with four goals in the 18-year-old’s last four matches across all competitions, including a tally in the 4-0 Dortmund win over Atletico in the reverse fixture two weeks ago.

Liverpool travels east to Serbia to take on Red Star Belgrade, leaving Albanian-born Xherdan Shaqiri behind “to avoid any distractions” with the political discord between the parties and “focus on football.” The Reds hammered Red Star at home, but playing in Eastern Europe is a different prospect. Liverpool needs all the points it can grab with PSG and Napoli hot on its heels, and can put pressure on the rest of the group with an early 12:55 p.m. ET kick.

Tottenham hosts PSV Eindhoven at Wembley Stadium in dire need of a result, with just one point through three matches in group stage play. Spurs likely need to win at least two of the next three to have any hope of reaching the knockout stage, and with Barcelona and Inter the two remaining opponents, this is as much of a must-win as it comes. Still, Spurs are winless in their last five European matches and will be without captain Hugo Lloris after he was sent off in the dying minutes of the reverse fixture. That’s just the beginning of Mauricio Pochettino‘s squad troubles, with Danny RoseEric DierMousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Victor Wanyama all out injured.

AS Monaco and Club Brugge both meet in France needing a win to have any hope of catching the Group A leaders. Schalke hosts Turkish side Galatasaray with Group D still completely up in the air. On the other side of Group D, FC Porto welcomes Russian side Lokomotov Moscow to Portugal.

VIDEO: Neymar, Mbappe toy with Lille; PSG go 11 points clear

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Here’s a statement you’ve probably heard — or that has maybe even crossed your mind — before: Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are too good for the level of competition in Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Barcelona taking “cautious” approach with Lionel Messi’s broken arm ]

It is, however, still quite fun to watch them toy with their vastly inferior (professional) opponents anyway. Take, for instance, Friday’s 2-1 victory over second-place Lille (eight points back when the game kicked off).

Each of Paris Saint-Germain’s babyfaced superstars scored a marvelous goal, and made it look so, so, so easy in doing so. As in, unfairly easy.

On one hand, Neymar and Mbappe clearly aren’t being challenged in Ligue 1. On the other hand, they look like they’re having so much fun playing playground soccer that maybe we should just leave them be and enjoy their exploits for as long as we can.

Mbappe sparks rally in France’s draw with Iceland

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GUINGAMP, France (AP) Kylian Mbappe saved world champion France’s blushes by creating one goal and scoring a late equalizer in the space of five minutes to salvage a 2-2 draw against Iceland in a friendly on Thursday.

Iceland was 2-0 up with five minutes left at the Roudourou stadium in Brittany and looked set to hand France its first loss since winning the World Cup in July.

But Mbappe, who went on as a substitute for the last half an hour, was the home team’s savior.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward helped to pull a goal back when he fired in from a tight angle and the ball took a deflection off Holmar Eyjolfsson to go in for an own goal in the 85th minute.

Mbappe then levelled with a penalty awarded for handball five minutes later.

“We reacted well after a bad start against a well organized team,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “It’s good for Kylian, he brought his speed to us.”

Deschamps rested several regulars to keep them fit ahead of next week’s UEFA Nations League against Germany at the Stade de France.

Without Blaise Matuidi and N'Golo Kante, France were lacking in midfield, while Olivier Giroud was subdued up front.

Mbappe was meant to start the game but a minor thigh injury prompted Deschamps to leave him on the bench, allowing Giroud to partner Antoine Griezmann.

France lacked a cutting edge in the first half despite monopolizing possession.

Unmarked on the edge of the area, Paul Pogba fluffed a shot in the 17th minute. Griezmann also headed a cross from Lucas Digne just wide and Florian Thauvin fired a shot over from Ousmane Dembele’s precise pass.

France was made to pay when Presnel Kimpembe was dispossessed near the corner flag by Alfred Finnbogason and went down holding his ankle.

The Iceland forward carried on and sent a low cross to Birkir Bjarnasson, who beat keeper Hugo Lloris with a low shot to claim his 10th international goal in the 31st minute.

France should have gone two down but Lloris made a superb triple stop in the 37th minute.

The hosts pushed hard for an equalizer and almost got it in the 54th minute when Griezmann forced keeper Runar Runarsson to stretch and save a header that looked bound for the top corner.

France was then caught cold from a corner in the 58th as Kari Arnason lost his marker at the near post and doubled Iceland’s lead with a looping header that went in off the bar.

Mbappe had the last word, though, setting up the first France strike before bagging his 10th goal in 25 internationals.

Kylian Mbappe scores four as PSG thumps Lyon

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It was a close game at halftime in the French capital. And then, in a flash, it wasn’t.

Neymar’s ninth-minute penalty was the difference at the break, but Kylian Mbappe stole the show in the second half, scoring a whopping four goals in a 5-0 demolition of Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday as Paris Saint-Germain remained a perfect nine-of-nine in Ligue 1 play.

Mbappe was the man taken down in the box to lead to Neymar’s spot-kick, and PSG led early.

He then scored all four of his goals in a thirteen-minute span after the break, starting just past the hour mark as he popped up in all the right places. Both teams had a man sent off before the break, with PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe the first man to go thanks to a check of VAR. The 23-year-old charged in studs up on Tanguy NDombele, but was shown a yellow at first before the video review. Just before halftime, Lucas Tousart picked up his second yellow for Lyon and had to go.

With both teams down to 10 men, PSG began to press the Lyon box and Mbappe took advantage. He scored his first in the 61st minute as Neymar weaved through defenders but was tackled before getting a shot off, and the ball fell to Mbappe near the penalty spot for a cool, uncontested finish in off the post. Five minutes later, Marco Verratti’s good work was rewarded as he sprung Marquinhos down the right, and past the back line he crossed easily to Mbappe for the sliding tap-in.

Already on a 3-0 lead, the Lyon defenders looked tired and barely challenged Neymar and Mbappe three minutes later for his hat-trick. Neymar rolled down the left with two defenders simply shading him across the halfway line, and his easy ball to Mbappe down the middle saw him finish his long distance one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

He would close the book on the scoreline in the 74th minute in a scramble as Thomas Meunier saw his initial effort down the right closed down by a charging Anthony Lopes. The rebound fell to Mbappe who found Neymar, and his shot was blocked, and it again fell to Mbappe who would finish it off.

PSG now has 27 points on the season thanks to nine wins from nine matches. That gives them an eight-point advantage at the top of the table, a significant early lead with the bulk of the season still to go.

PSG hammers Red Star Belgrade, McKennie wins it for Schalke

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The early Champions League kickoffs treated fans to a pair of games as an appetizer to the main 3:00 p.m. ET event, and while Neymar was the star of the show, an American youngster stole some of the spotlight.

The Brazilian scored a hat-trick, including a pair of free-kicks, as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 6-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade in the French capital. His first came on a delicious set-piece from straight-on outside the top of the box, curling it over the wall and into the top-left corner, leaving Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan no chance as he went full stretch.

Neymar scored again just two minutes later as PSG displayed speed in the attack. He played a perfect one-two with Kylian Mbappé, first springing the young French star with a through-ball before trailing the play and roofing the cross for a 2-0 lead.

Edinson Cavani followed that with his first goal of the game for a blistering 3-0 lead eight minutes before the break. It was a hilariously sloppy goal that came off a bungled clear, falling right into Cavani’s lap as he danced around scattered defenders and fired a shot that deflected past Borjan. Angel Di Maria added a fourth for the hosts minutes later, and Mbappe got himself on the scoresheet in the second half before former Chelsea midfielder Marko Marin grabbed a consolation for Red Star late.

Neymar finished off his hat-trick in the dying minutes as he whipped in a free-kick from nearly the exact same position as the first – only a few feet further out – and he went to the top-right corner this time, leaving Borjan with no chance. This time, the goalkeeper didn’t even dive, just giving it an exasperated look before starting to laugh. Cavani nearly had his second and PSG’s seventh, but it was ruled out for offside.

The other early game appeared to be devoid of excitement, until 20-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie stepped up and bagged the winning goal in the 88th minute. The shot was just the sixth on target of the entire match for both sides, but it made all the difference.

McKennie becomes the eighth American international to score a Champions League goal – and his goal is the latest of any American international in the competition – while more importantly, it marks his first professional club goal.