You’ll Need A Cigarette After Watching This Tackle On Mbappé

Kalidou Koulibaly might be the most underrated defender in the world.

The amount of attacking talent on display during the Napoli-PSG Champions League match was staggering. On one side you had Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Julian Draxler and Ángel Di María; on the other Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, José Calléjon and Marek Hamsik.

But the best player on the pitch in Naples on Tuesday was defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

The27-year-old Senegalese center back has been a stalwart for Napoli in recent seasons and was always going to be under the microscope with the offensive firepower PSG brought to the Stadio San Paolo. Before the match, the non-former-NBA players previewing the match on TNT pointed out Koulibaly’s impressive ability as a defender.

Koulibaly can also play a little offense too, scoring a dramatic late goal against Juventus last season and providing this assist on Saturday.

But it was all about defense during the Napoli-PSG match, in particularly this Koulibaly tackle on Mbappe in the first half.

With the young Frenchman galloping toward Koulibaly — perhaps the scariest sight for a defender in the world right now — the Napoli center back played Mbappé absolutely perfectly. 

So good was the Koulibaly tackle on Mbappe that it probably received the loudest cheer of the night from the crowd in Napoli, even more than when the home side scored later in the match. And Mbappé was so flummoxed by not being able to get by Koulibaly that he picked up a yellow card for a foul immediately after.  

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The Koulibaly tackle on Mbappe — along with some strong defensive play all around from Napoli — allowed the Serie A club to record a second straight draw against the French giants as the match ended 1-1 (following their 2-2 draw a couple weeks ago).

Juan Bernat scored PSG’s lone goal, showing impressive composure to finish while falling down after some fine work from Mbappé on the wing.

But Insigne netted the equalizer in the second half on a penalty kick, ignoring some cheeky smiles from compatriot Gianluigi Buffon in goal for PSG.

PSG probably should’ve been given a penalty kick in the second half when Bernat was taken down in the box, but in the end the Italian defending held firm for the draw, creating an intriguing final couple of match days in Group C.

After Liverpool’s shock 2-0 loss to Red Star Belgrade, Napoli now leads Group C with six points, above Liverpool based on head-to-head performance. PSG is in third with five points and Red Star is in fourth with four points, just two behind the top. 

For those wondering about Neymar, the Brazilian star spent most of the match dribbling around Napoli players, but did it all 40-plus yards from goal, unable to really impact the game in the final third, though he did set up PSG's goal by playing Mbappé in behind the Napoli defense before his pass to Bernat. 

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