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With Neymar staying and Icardi in, can PSG finally deliver in Europe?


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Paris (AFP) – 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.

Neymar overshadows everything –

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 the first three 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.



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