Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Neymar makes first PSG start since February as Pochettino stacks attack for Lille clash

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 3 Apr 2021

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Neymar was handed his first start for Paris Saint-Germain since early February as Mauricio Pochettino’s team tackled title rivals Lille.

The Brazil star forward made a 20-minute appearance in the 4-2 win over Lyon before the international break, and he was restored to the starting XI on Saturday for a crucial Parc des Princes clash.

Neymar endured a long absence after suffering an adductor injury in PSG’s Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10.

He missed nine games across all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 triumph over his former club Barcelona.

For the visit of Lille, head coach Pochettino loaded his team with attacking talent, selecting Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria behind Moise Kean.

That could be a sign of things to come for the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

However, Pochettino was without a number of players due to fitness and health reasons, including Marco Verratti, Layvin Kurzawa and Mauro Icardi.

Pochettino discussed Neymar’s anticipated return on Friday, hoping for a big contribution from the superstar over the closing two months of the season.

Having scored 13 goals in 19 games so far this term, the importance of his return is obvious to a team chasing domestic and Champions League success.

“The truth is that the international break was important for Neymar,” Pochettino said. “He was able to train at a good level for two weeks.

“Now he has to play. We’re happy with the way he trained. We are pleased with his involvement and improvements in the areas he needs to improve.”

PSG headed into Saturday’s game sitting top of Ligue 1, albeit only ahead of Lille on goal difference.

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