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Neymar to start for PSG against Nantes?

Publish on 01/12/2019 at 23:30

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Neymar is pushing for a return to PSG's starting line-up when the champions welcome Nantes to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday, having settled for a place on the bench against Real Madrid last Tuesday.

Paris Saint-Germain - FC Nantes 

Neymar's season start was delayed, with match fitness eluding the Brazilian star following a long injury layoff with a ruptured ankle ligament. He then missed six games for his club after pulling a hamstring on international duty with the Selecao.

Embarrassment of riches

Such has been the form of fellow final third operators Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappé and Mauro Icardi - who have had a hand in 11, eight and seven Ligue 1 Conforama goals respectively - that coach Thomas Tuchel has seen little reason to rush back the world's most expensive player.

Paris drew 2-2 with Real in the Spanish capital last week, to qualify as Group A winners, five points clear of the record European champions. Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Neymar helped PSG to a second-half comeback, and Tuchel insists he is ready to rely on the 27-year-old.

"The quality of the guys who came on - Ney, Pablo [Sarabia] and [Julian] Draxler - made the difference. [Neymar] and I have a connection," insisted the German tactician. "We're honest with each other. He's been out injured for six weeks do there was no need to take a risk. I'm not afraid of losing Ney, we get on well."

Unexpected break

The whole squad had something of a surprise rest over the weekend. The Monaco Ministry of the Interior postponed PSG's match against AS Monaco at the Stade Louis II on Sunday due to torrential rain in the principality, with the LFP's Competitions Commission to arrange a rescheduled date in due course.

It means the capital club will have had some eight days between their trip to Madrid and their clash with Nantes. With nearest pursuers Olympique de Marseille in action at Angers SCO on Tuesday, PSG will at worst find themselves two points clear with two games in hand come kick-off.

Tuchel has a fully fit - and rested - squad to call upon, but for Ander Herrera, Marco Verratti and the suspended Presnel Kimpembe. The Spain midfielder has not featured since October's 4-0 win over Marseille in Le Classique due to a hamstring injury, and his Italian counterpart joins him on the sidelines with a knee problem.

History on their side?

Tuchel is unlikely to take Nantes lightly. Les Canaris pulled up to sixth in beating Toulouse FC 2-1 on Sunday, and they also prevailed the last time these two teams met, winning 3-1 at the Stade de la Beaujoire in April.

First-choice central defenders Andrei Girotto and Nicolas Pallois returned from suspension against Le Téfécé, while Abdoulaye Touré and Ludovic Blas were on target in a win which would have remained unblemished if not for Aaron Leya Iseka's 96th-minute consolation, but Tuchel's opposite number Christian Gourcuff was not happy.

"It wasn't that much fun until we scored," he said at his post-match press conference. "We had a lot of chances before we opened the scoring but we simply couldn't make them tell. For a few moments we thought we were 3-0 up and then all of a sudden it was 2-1. This shows our immaturity in handling matches. I'm not satisfied with this match, even if winning three points is the main thing."

Wings clipped?

Nantes full-back Fabio and attacker Marcus Coco remain sidelined with a broken kneecap and ruptured LCL knee ligaments respectively, but Gourcuff has an otherwise full-strength squad to call upon as he looks to lead La Maison Jaune up to a potential third in the table.

PSG had been unbeaten in 19 games against Nantes in all competitions stretching back to October 2004 before that reverse in April, though, and with a week's rest under their belt, remain the overwhelming favourites in the capital on Wednesday.

 

Possible line-ups

PSG: Navas; Meunier, Silva, Diallo, Bernat; Marquinhos, Verratti; Neymar; Di Maria, Icardi, Mbappé

Nantes: Lafont; Appiah, Girotto, Pallois, Traoré; Touré, Abeid; Blas, Louza, Simon; Coulibaly