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18 September, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 17 September, 2019 11:51:41 PM
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Can PSG finally deliver in Europe?

Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe to miss the match
AFP, Paris
Can PSG finally deliver in Europe?
(FromL) Paris Saint-Germain's defender Marquinhos, forward Mauro Icardi, forward Neymar, defender Layvin Kurzawa and midfielder Adil Aouchiche jog during a training session at the club's Camp des Loges training grounds in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris on Tuesday on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group A football match against Real Madrid CF. AFP photo

The visit of Real Madrid to the French capital on Wednesday means a glamour tie for Paris Saint-Germain to begin their Champions League campaign but a meeting with the Spanish side also brings back unhappy memories.

When the clubs last met in Europe two seasons ago, a PSG side missing an injured Neymar were dumped out in the last 16.

That was one of three consecutive exits in the first knockout round for PSG, who have failed to make their mark on the Champions League despite all the money spent by their Qatari owners.

So the inevitable question at the start of another continental campaign is can Thomas Tuchel's team this time at least reach a semi-final in Europe's elite club competition?

Last season it was Manchester United who embarrassed PSG. Since 2012 the only teams PSG have beaten in a Champions League knockout tie are Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea.

For now, PSG will just be eager to make a statement in their opening match. But with Galatasaray and Club Brugge the other teams in Group A, it would be a monumental surprise if PSG failed to progress, even with Neymar suspended for two matches.

The world's most expensive player has overshadowed everything else at the club in recent months, with the saga of his hoped-for move back to Barcelona and then his return to action at the weekend, featuring a brilliant winner against Strasbourg in response to boos from angry supporters.

“I am very pleased because now it is finished,” said Tuchel of the transfer saga.

Tuchel always wanted Neymar to stay. Saturday's goal -- his 52nd in 59 games for the club -- illustrated why.

“My head is 100 percent focused on PSG. I will give everything, as I have at every club I have played for,” said Neymar.

“Unfortunately in the last two years I have had serious injuries and I have missed a lot of matches. But when I have played I have performed, and I think my statistics have been among the best of my career.”

There is no doubt the presence of Neymar gives PSG a far greater chance of winning the biggest prize in European club football, as long as he stays fit. As well as Neymar's suspension against Real, Kylian Mbappe is still out with a hamstring injury, but the arrival of Mauro Icardi has added another explosive element to their attack.

Icardi was prolific for Inter before being stripped of the club captaincy last season amid a contract dispute.

He signed on loan just before the transfer deadline. It is elsewhere that Paris really needed to strengthen, though.

Tuchel was unable to settle on a first-choice goalkeeper last season between Alphonse Areola and Gianluigi Buffon. Both have since left and Keylor Navas has signed from Real Madrid to take over the gloves.

An earlier report adds, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani have lost the race to be fit for Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League visit of Real Madrid, the French champions confirmed on Monday.

Mbappe injured a thigh and Cavani his hip last month, and PSG said the two strikers will resume the full training by the end of the week after revealing they would miss Wednesday's clash at the Parc des Princes.

PSG will also be without Neymar, who scored an added time winner against Strasbourg in his first start of the season on Sunday, as he has to serve a three-match suspension in the Champions League for insulting the referee following his side's elimination by Manchester United last season.

PSG have Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and recently arrived Mauro Icardi as options in the centre of attack.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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