Neymar is on the shelf yet again, and Paris Saint-German will feel his absence.
The latest injury is a severe ankle sprain suffered in a Ligue 1 win over Saint-Etienne in late November. Neymar came down on his ankle after a sliding tackle by defender Yvanne Macon, with replays showing a bad twist. He was carted off the field and now faces a significant layoff.
Neymar has already missed five total games due to the injury — three Ligue 1 matches, one Champions League game, and one Coupe de France match. PSG has largely been fine, winning both Cup matches while winning one and drawing two Ligue 1 matches (PSG has a gargantuan 13-point lead atop the Ligue 1 table, so the occasional dropped points are no issue). With Champions League knockout round games set to begin in February, having Neymar back will be important.
PSG announced that Neymar is looking at an additional month or more on the sidelines as it stands, currently rehabbing in Doha, Qatar at the team’s remote facilities.
It is the sixth time in the past four years that Neymar has sufferend an injury requiring such treatment, according to ESPN FC’s Ligue 1 correspondent Julien Laurens. The report states he has missed a whopping 91 total matches for PSG due to injuries, a shocking haul.
PSG without Neymar
Manager Mauricio Pochettino has come under fire for the team’s sputtering attack. While the results have been satisfactory to date, it is often difficult to judge PSG through the first half of the season based solely on the on-field return.
The club has dominated Ligue 1 for years now, and even the Champions League group stage has often been a formality for a club of this caliber, this season qualifying easily for the knockout round with an 11-point haul in Group A, just one point back of group winners Man City and four points beyond third-placed RB Leipzig.
Thus, PSG fans and media often use the eye test to predict how the squad may perform in the more high-leverage matches to come, and there have been worries of a letdown. Pochettino has continually had to answer questions about his tactical approach to matches, especially since Neymar’s injury.
To make matters worse, the club will be without Kylian Mbappe for the upcoming Ligue 1 match against ninth-placed Angers on Wednesday, Dec. 22.
“We need to build the play and progress in a different way on the pitch,” Pochettino admitted in his pre-match press conference. “It might also help us to understand the game in a different way. When we have Kylian Mbappe or Neymar on the pitch, the first thought can be to get them behind, because that is what they do best. Without Kylian Mbappe, we still have the quality to build, we can play at a good tempo, but it will be good for the team to show that we can attack in a different way. Sometimes we can try to be too direct and play too quickly, but without Kylian and Neymar, we might need to spend longer building the play with shorter passes.”
Given Neymar’s announced timeline, it could be a race for him to be fit for the first leg of the upcoming Champions League knockout match against Real Madrid on Feb. 15. A four-week layoff would see Neymar return to training in late January, and the race would be on to build his match fitness in time for the first match in Paris.
Given the timeline shared, he should have a good chance to be ready, but any delays to his return or setbacks with the injury could jeopardize that standing. The second leg of the series falls on Wednesday, March 9.
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