Neymar’s return following the ban this weekend is good news for Paris Saint-Germain, but there are still many problems for the French champions, who have had a difficult start to the new season.
PARIS: It was a troubled start to the season for Paris Saint-Germain, overshadowed by a string of coronavirus cases, suspensions and injuries, but the French champions may welcome Neymar back from a ban for this weekend’s Ligue 1 match in Reims.
The world’s most expensive player was banned for two matches after being involved in an unseemly brawl at the end of PSG’s 1-0 home defeat to Marseille recently.
Without him, his teammates recovered from defeat in their first two games of the season and recorded consecutive victories over Metz (1-0) and Nice (3-0).
“We are suffering a lot and we are really tired,” said coach Thomas Tuchel after the last outing, and Neymar’s return can only improve their prospects of keeping that winning streak going when they visit a Reims team that did not win in Ligue 1 and was on Thursday in Hungary in the Europa League.
Still, while PSG have now recovered the raft of players – including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – who tested positive at Covid-19 after a vacation following their run to the Champions League final, the problems aren’t going away for Tuchel.
Neymar will face further disciplinary action having been accused by Marseille of racially abusing Japanese defender Hiroki Sakai in that same recent meeting.
The French league will investigate these claims and claims Neymar used a homophobic slur against Marseille’s Alvaro Gonzalez, which the Brazilian says directed him a racial slur. A decision in this case is expected next week.
Meanwhile, PSG learned Wednesday that Angel Di Maria faces a four-game ban for spitting at Gonzalez.
The Argentinian can participate this weekend but will therefore not be able to play another Ligue 1 match until early November, when PSG’s Champions League campaign is well underway.
While Paris has been linked to a move for Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, Tuchel lost left-back Juan Bernat to a serious knee injury and concerns over Mauro Icardi’s form remain.
The Argentine striker did enough on loan from Inter last season for PSG to sign him permanently for an initial salary of € 50m.
However, he played no role in the Champions League semi-final win against RB Leipzig or the final against Bayern Munich, he missed PSG’s first two league games this season due to a positive Covid-19 test and failed to find the net in the two exits since his return.
At least Mbappe looked lively last weekend against Nice, winning and converting a penalty before scoring another goal for Di Maria.
One to watch: Jonathan David
It was a slow start to life in France for David, which was one of the biggest signings made by a Ligue 1 club in the summer when Lille paid € 27m ($ 31.4m) to recruit the 20-year-old. Canada. striker from the Belgian side Gent.
Brought to replace Victor Osimhen, sold to Napoli, David has big boots to fill. Like Osimhen before him, David has been prolific in Belgium but fought in his first four Ligue 1 games. Will he be able to score his first goal this weekend?
26 – PSG have used 26 different players in four league games this season.
4 – The number of matches that Angel Di Maria of PSG will miss – after this weekend – due to disqualification.
21.5 – The average age of the Saint-Etienne team, league leaders, last weekend, with veteran coach Claude Puel rejuvenating his squad. It is further proof of Ligue 1’s ability to continue producing young talent.