Saturday, December 7, 2019

Tuchel ´not afraid´ of losing Neymar after benching PSG star in Madrid

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 27 Nov 2019

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Thomas Tuchel said he benched Neymar for the player’s own good against Real Madrid and did not fear upsetting the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Neymar, a starter against Lille on Friday, was introduced at half-time of a rollicking 2-2 Champions League draw in Madrid on Tuesday. 

PSG trailed to Karim Benzema’s opener when the Brazilian entered the game and fell further behind when the Madrid striker nodded in Marcelo’s cross, before Kylian Mbappe and Pablo Sarabia struck in quick succession to force a share of the spoils.

Tuchel admitted ahead of the Madrid showdown that Neymar could at times be tough to manage but insisted his reduced role at the Santiago Bernabeu was a direct result of his recent hamstring injury.

“No, I’m not afraid [of the ramifications], I don’t think we are going to lose Neymar,” the PSG boss said.

“We have a connection, we are honest. I talked to him and told him that I would rather he play in the second half and start on the bench. We did the same thing with Kylian away to Galatasaray.

“He’s been absent for six weeks, he only played one game before this one and for me it was not worth taking that risk.

“Every month he missed a few days. I made the decision for him, for his health.”

Despite being outplayed for 80 minutes in the Spanish capital, PSG did enough to confirm top spot in Group A.

Visitors PSG had goalkeeper Keylor Navas to thank for a series of excellent stops that prevented his former employers from taking a decisive lead.

Tuchel said: “Real were the better team for a long time. We played too complicated, not quick enough, not simple enough, not with confidence. Real played with a lot of confidence.

“They showed that this is a team that won the Champions League three times in a row.

“We had an extraordinary goalkeeper with Keylor Navas. We were lucky, it’s not forbidden. After the goal, we were freer.

“There are some positive things to remember. The mentality at the end, the quality of the guys who came on, Ney and Pablo and [Julian] Draxler made the difference. We have 13 points from five games.”

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