On Monday, Neymar’s ankle injury officially ended his bittersweet 2022-2023 season at PSG. The Brazilian number 10 has played just 48 percent of possible minutes in Ligue 1 since his sensational move to PSG from Barcelona in 2017. In Neymar’s absence, PSG, playing for Lionel Messi’s team, faces the challenge of bouncing back from a 1-0 defeat against strong rivals Bayern in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. The Bavarian giants successfully neutralized Neymar’s threat in the first leg at the Parc de Prince. Asked by the Hindustan Times during a special meeting organized by Sony Sports Network, former Premier League player Ashley Westwood expressed fears that Neymar’s absence would affect the outcome of the return match between PSG and Bayern.
PSG is better off without Neymar. You know he’s so good with the ball, he’s so fast with his dribbling technique. When he gets the ball, he kind of pulls 2-3 opposing players towards him because they are focused on stopping him. If you are at PSG with him and Messi in the lineup, they are not very good defensively up front. They’re both not very good with the ball. They don’t do the hard work, if you will. And it can be a bit open when you play them both. What’s more important is the return of Mbappe, if you look at the first match – Bayern completely dominated PSG in the first half. And just 10 minutes into the second half and Mbappe coming out, the difference was there, and obviously he scored a goal that was cancelled because of offside, Westwood told the Hindustan Times.
Neymar has scored 18 goals for PSG in all competitions this season. However, the PSG record holder (222 million euros) has scored only three times in nine games since the World Cup break. Neymar has missed more than 100 games for PSG due to injury or suspension. Kingsley Coman’s stunning goal was the only one in the match when Bayern beat PSG 1-0 at the Parc de Prince in the first leg. The Bundesliga giants will face PSG without Neymar in Game 2 of the Champions League Round of 16 at the Allianz Arena on Thursday.
Obviously, Mbappe, Messi and Neymar work very well together and PSG look very different, but it’s hard to have all three in the lineup, it allows you to be very open defensively because they are not very good defensively up front. But you can’t allowWe can’t afford to have three gorgeous players on the field and expect them to come on as substitutes day in and day out. So it’s a loss because he (Neymar) is one of the best players in the world. But maybe he’ll make them a little bit more solid because they can defend possession better, which you have to do against Bayern — you know they’re a fantastic team, one of the favorites to win, the former Bradford City AFC star added.
Watch the UEFA Champions League 2022-23: Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund live on Sony Sports Ten 2, Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) and Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil and Telugu) on March 8, 2023 at 1:30 am ET.