Neymar has been back in training and could feature for the first time since suffering an ankle injury.© AFP
Neymar could play his first game for Paris Saint-Germain since November when they face Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday. The French club revealed on the eve of the tie that former Real defender Sergio Ramos is the only player missing due to injury as he continues to struggle with a calf problem. Neymar, meanwhile, has been back in training and could feature for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in a Ligue 1 game against Saint-Etienne on November 28. “He is fine and he is full of confidence. Even if he hasn’t played a game he will give 100 percent if he does come on but the coach will decide if he is on the bench or if he plays,” said PSG captain Marquinhos.
Paris coach Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure to deliver heading into the tie with an exit in the first knockout round of Europe’s elite club competition unthinkable for the club that signed Lionel Messi at the start of the season.
“Given the players involved this could have been the final,” pointed out Pochettino, whose side lost in the semi-finals last season to Manchester City.
The Qatar-owned club lost the 2020 final to Bayern Munich but before that had gone out in the last 16 in three straight seasons.
“PSG have been trying to win this trophy for 50 years so we are the challengers,” said Pochettino, whose team have struggled to convince this season despite sitting 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
“The team we are coming up against are the ones who are used to winning the Champions League.”
Pochettino said that neither Idrissa Gana Gueye nor Abdou Diallo would be considered to start the game at the Parc des Princes having returned last week from winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal.
PSG are hoping for a big performance from Messi, who has scored five of his seven goals so far this season in the Champions League.
He holds the record for most goals scored in the ‘Clasico’ having netted 26 times against Real Madrid while at Barcelona.
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