When Paris Saint-Germain broke the world transfer record four years ago to buy Neymar, it had dreams of conquering Europe.
Now PSG needs him to restart a title defense, the one on Sunday could go off track with a defeat in Lyon.
Neymar, who has been out for two months because of his last injury since joining Barcelona for € 222million, seems ready to play at least a role against Lyon and that’s a relief for coach Mauricio Pochettino.
« He’s getting better every day, » said Pochettino. « If he is available against Lyon, it would be good for the whole team. »
If PSG lose and Lille beat Nimes at home on Sunday, Pochettino’s team will slide to third place – three points behind Lyon and six behind Lille with eight games.
PSG have already lost seven of 29 league games – one of them at home against Lyon – for the most defeats in a season since QSI took over the money-rich Qatari supporters QSI over 10 years ago.
A lack of energy was evident in PSG’s two home defeats against fourth-placed Monaco, who tactically dominated PSG, and against Nantes, who scored far too easily for a team in 19th place.
Although Kylian Mbappe is one of the world’s best Striker, Mauro Icardi an excellent finisher and Marco Verratti an excellent midfield organizer, has lacked creativity without Neymar being unpredictable.
The injury-prone Brazilian ripped off one on February 10th French Cup game the left adductor core and should be four weeks and not two months. Although his smug and frustrating style of play means less teamwork, PSG remain more dangerous with him and need him for the run-in.
After playing against Lille on April 3, PSG have tough games against Metz (away) and Lens (at home ) given. Both teams are pushing for a place in the Europa League next season.
The reason PSG are no further behind is that Lille and Lyon are playing too many games – nine each – and PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas more Defeats prevented.
Navas has been very busy, most recently against Lille in the French Cup on Wednesday night.
« Keylor is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, » said Pochettino. « His level is incredible. »
Without him, PSG would have been eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League – where they lost two games and could easily have lost two more – and possibly eliminated in the round of 16 against Barcelona.
PSG led 4-1 away but Barcelona completely dominated the second leg in Paris last week and only eight saves by the inspired Navas – including a penalty from Lionel Messi – prevented Barcelona from making a comeback.
« In my opinion shows he is the best of them all at the moment, « said PSG defender Alessandro Florenzi.
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