A crippled Paris Saint-Germain is set to host German side RB Leipzig at the Parc des Princes at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19 in matchday three of the UEFA Champions League group stages.
Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. was ruled out of the match on Monday, Oct. 18 as a result of a groin injury he sustained on international duty. PSG will now have to fend off Jesse Marsch’s young, fiery Leipzig squad without one of its three main pillars.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino expanded on the status of Neymar in Monday’s pre-match press conference. The following quotes come directly from the press conference via PSGhub, a media outlet that covers all things in relation to the Parisian club.
“Neymar was available to train, he did, then felt discomfort in the last few minutes. So he couldn’t do the tactical preparation part of the match,” he said. “We assessed, then we made the decision not to include him in the squad.”
The Paris medical staff will treat Neymar for a multitude of days before they let him return to the pitch, according to French media outlet Get French Football News. Nevertheless, Pochettino expressed his belief that the Brazilian star would be back sooner rather than later.
“We hope to have him in the group in the next few days,” he said.
Questions arose as to why Neymar was allowed to train with this discomfort, to which Pochettino responded, “he trained because he had the agreement of the medical staff. If they say a player can’t train, he doesn’t, and vice versa.”
Pochettino also made sure to give his full support to the club’s medical staff, who could be scapegoated in this whole ordeal. “We are still 100% behind the medical staff,” he said.
French le10sport journalist Hadrien Grenier listed other notable Parisian absences, including fullback Juan Bernat, who, despite returning from injury, was not included in the group stage list at the start of the season as he was still recovering from his ACL tear. Winger Angel Di Maria will also not be involved in the contest as he serves his third and final suspension for his deliberate stomp on Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho in last year’s Champions League semifinal.
Midfielder Leandro Paredes sustained a strain to his right quadricep on international duty with Argentina, and is expected to be absent for the next four weeks. Finally, center back Sergio Ramos has still yet to return from his calf injury as he continues individualized training. Ramos hopes to return to collective training in the next few days.
Paris heads into the contest having just defeated Angers SCO 2-1 in league play on Friday, Oct. 15. Despite the win, Pochettino’s men once again left much to be desired. Not only did the men in red and blue concede first, but they looked frail at the back and lacked ideas up front. Had it not been for a very generous penalty decision given by the referee at the death, Angers would have most certainly walked out of the Parc with a point.
While reporters questioned the team’s tactical setup in the press conference, Pochettino assured them that cohesion amongst the squad would not happen overnight. “We try to work on putting our ideas together, but it will come with time. We will find the automations,” he said.
In relation to Leipzig, the Argentine manager made sure to heap praise on Paris’ upcoming opponent. “It is a team that has a lot of energy, a lot of quality players, that is aggressive, and will want to make a good result,” he said.
Pochettino also emphasized how important defense and possession would be in determining tomorrow’s contest.
“There will be times when we need to be very well organized defensively by being compact,” Pochettino said. “We will need to work intelligently on possession to get out of certain situations where we could undergo rapid transitions that could hurt us.”
Center back Presnel Kimpembe commented on the German side as well — particularly on the overall quality of the team.
“It will not be an easy match. I have friends who play there, like Christopher Nkunku, who is a quality player,” Kimpembe said. “He has evolved tremendously, he’s one of the great players now. It will be a good game on Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Paris will look to win and cement its position at the top of Group A. As of now, it sits in first with four points. Right behind them is Belgian side Club Brugge, which also has four points, but an inferior goal difference. English side City sits in third place with three points, while Leipzig sits in last place with zero points.
Featured photo courtesy of Paris Saint Germain Instagram account.