Christophe Galtier accepts Paris Saint-Germain’s attack is more balanced without Neymar but refuted suggestions his side are stronger without the injured forward.
PSG confirmed ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Bayern Munich that Neymar will miss the rest of the season after undergoing ankle surgery.
The 31-year-old has been directly involved in 34 goals this term, which is behind only team-mate Kylian Mbappe (37) and Erling Haaland (38) across Europe’s top five leagues.
Despite these impressive figures, former France striker Christophe Dugarry said he is “happy” Neymar is injured as Mbappe and Lionel Messi work better as a partnership.
While Galtier does not necessarily disagree with that assessment, the PSG head coach cannot see how being without a player boasting 18 goals this season can be a positive.
“I’ve read the debate around Neymar. It’s unfortunate for him and a handicap for the team,” Galtier said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
“Look at his goals and assists this season. When I read that it could be a good thing for us, no! The player is seriously injured.
“He’s always been professional since I’ve been here, though he did have a difficult period after the World Cup.
“Is the team better balanced? Yes. But is it better like that? Having Neymar in the squad is an additional asset for us to score goals.”
PSG travel to the Allianz Arena aiming to overturn a 1-0 deficit from last month’s first leg in Paris, courtesy of Kingsley Coman’s 53rd-minute goal.
On the six previous occasions PSG have lost the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie, they have advanced just once – against Borussia Dortmund in the 2019-20 campaign.
PSG may be without Neymar for the trip to Bavaria, but Kylian Mbappe has regained full fitness, and sharpness, since returning from a calf injury during the second half of the first leg.
Mbappe has 30 goals in 30 games this season – only Manchester City striker Haaland can better that tally across Europe’s top five leagues, with 33 goals in 34 appearances.
The France forward has scored in his two previous Champions League away games at Bayern, and team-mate Marco Verratti is hoping Mbappe can prove the difference in this latest encounter.
“In matches like this, we need everyone,” Verratti said. “Mbappe is a player who is always present in the big matches.
“Kylian is Kylian. We are lucky to have him here. He has a great personality – we need players like him. We have confidence as we know nothing has been lost.
“There is a lot of pressure on us because something big is on the line. But we always like having that pressure here and I’m sure the team will give everything tomorrow.”
For all the focus on PSG’s attackers, they are the only side left in the Champions League yet to have kept a clean sheet in this season’s competition.
However, asked if his side are too open defensively to go all the way in the competition, Galtier said: “Every system has it flaws and its strong points.
“In the last few games we’ve conceded goals. We have to fix that and we are working on it together.
“We talk about this a lot. There are flaws with us, but also with our opponent. We need to make sure we’re vigilant and also daring in the way we attack.”
Galtier also confirmed Achraf Hakimi is in line to feature against Bayern after recovering from injury, despite last week being charged with rape by French prosecutors.
Morocco defender Hakimi firmly denies the accusations and is confident of clearing his name.
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