Neymar’s steady return to form after an injury-plagued 2019 coincides with Paris Saint-Germain push to finish the year clear of old rivals Marseille, who are enjoying their best Ligue 1 run since 2014.
The Brazilian orchestrated a late comeback at Montpellier last weekend and then marked his first Champions League start in exactly 12 months with a goal and two assists in Wednesday’s 5-0 demolition of Galatasaray.
Already assured of top spot in their group, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel opted to start Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, along with Mauro Icardi, to give the planet’s two most expensive players another chance to find their groove. “We have to rest to get back on track in Ligue 1 but we can think about the Champions League, which is our ultimate goal,” Neymar said.
The 27-year-old has yet to fully placate the Parc des Princes faithful after a summer of uncertainty surrounding his future in the French capital. A smattering of jeers greeted Neymar in PSG’s last home league game against Nantes, but further displays such as that in midweek should help erase any residual bitterness.
“I know I wasn’t there last year in February. We’re going to have to think of the supporters,” Neymar said. “What makes me happy is being able to play. As long as I have a ball, a nice pitch and team-mates, I have everything I need.”
PSG, who have a game in hand, travel to Saint-Etienne in tomorrow’s late kick-off, by which time Marseille could have slashed the gap at the top to just two points. Andre Villas-Boas has overseen a run of six straight wins at Marseille, a sequence that began following a 4-0 loss to PSG in late October. OM will hope to recall leading scorer Dario Benedetto for Saturday’s trip to Metz after the Argentine missed the 3-1 win over Bordeaux with a thigh complaint.
Today: Metz v Marseille (1630), Amiens v Dijon, Angers v Monaco, Brest v Nice, Nimes v Nantes, Toulouse v Reims (all 1900)
Tomorrow: Bordeaux v Strasbourg (1400), Lyon v Rennes (1600), Saint-Etienne v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)
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