Neymar in high spirits in individual training at PSG

By Sports Desk February 26, 2021

Neymar remains on schedule with his recovery from injury and has been boosted by his return to individual training, Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino said.

The world's most expensive footballer suffered an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

A four-week lay-off was predicted, potentially allowing for a return against former club Barcelona in the Champions League on March 10.

However, PSG won the first leg 4-1 thanks to a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick, easing the pressure on Neymar ahead of his comeback.

The Brazil superstar has only appeared in 18 of PSG's 35 games in all competitions this season and their win rate has actually improved from 66.7 per cent with the forward to 70.6 per cent when he has been absent.

But Neymar has still been involved in 17 of the 33 goals PSG have scored with him on the pitch in 2020-21; his 13 goals and four assists have him rank second only to Mbappe - 21 goals and nine assists for 30 involvements - among Parisian players this term.

Pochettino will certainly relish having Neymar back in the fold and detailed his progress on Friday ahead of the weekend clash with Dijon.

"Ney follows the protocol that the medical staff have established for him," the coach told a news conference.

"He has started running again on the field and he has done individual physical exercises, not with the team.

"He is in a very good state of mind. He is happy. He is on schedule for his return and, until then, everything is under control."

PSG head to Dijon third in the table and four points off the pace, unable to afford another setback having lost to Monaco last Sunday.

That was their sixth league defeat this term, their most across a single campaign since 2010-11 (eight), the season prior to Qatar Sports Investments' lucrative takeover.

PSG will have to improve in the final third against Dijon, having mustered only a single shot on target at home to Monaco, but will have to cope without the talents of Marco Verratti.

The midfielder, who played 35 minutes as a substitute last week, in which time he played 38 passes in the Monaco half, sustained a knock in training.

"The team lacked freshness and therefore creativity against Monaco," Pochettino said, with Verratti having started from the bench after sparkling as he assisted Mbappe's first goal at Camp Nou.

"In Barcelona, ​​we had been good in this area. In Dijon, we will find solutions and the players on the pitch will be up to the task."

PSG will also be without Mauro Icardi (gastroenteritis), Alessandro Florenzi (adductor) and Leandro Paredes (suspension).

Related items

  • Rangnick changes entire Man Utd team for Young Boys showdown Rangnick changes entire Man Utd team for Young Boys showdown

    Ralf Rangnick made 11 changes for Manchester United's Champions League clash with Young Boys on Wednesday.

    The Red Devils were already assured of a place in the knockout stages ahead of the Group F showdown at Old Trafford.

    Rangnick handed Dean Henderson an opportunity in goal behind a back four of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic, who captained the side, and Luke Shaw.

    Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata anchored the midfield with Jesse Lingard and Amad Diallo starting in more advanced roles behind a front two of Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga.

    With Elanga and Diallo both starting, the Red Devils included more than one teenager in their starting XI for a Champions League game for the first time since November 2009 v Besiktas (Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Rafael).

    The German also went for a youthful bench that included Charlie Savage – son of former United academy player Robbie – and Zidane Iqbal, who became the first British South Asian to be named in a United squad.

    United won their first two meetings with Young Boys in the Champions League but fell to a 2-1 loss when the sides met in September.

  • Juventus 1-0 Malmo: Kean heads Bianconeri top of Group H Juventus 1-0 Malmo: Kean heads Bianconeri top of Group H

    Moise Kean's early header proved enough to earn Juventus a 1-0 Champions League win over Malmo and top spot in Group H on Wednesday.

    The Bianconeri controlled the game well but could only muster one goal despite playing a team with just one point to their name.

    Federico Bernardeschi's classy cross from the right was one of the few moments of true quality in the final third, which Kean met with a darting run to the near post in the 18th minute.

    Malmo rarely threatened in the time that remained, but Juventus never looked like claiming an emphatic win either and their solitary goal proved enough to see them finish above Chelsea, who conceded a 94th-minute equaliser in their 3-3 draw with Zenit. 

    Kean came close to opening the scoring in the sixth minute after being slipped into the area by Paulo Dybala, but the striker lashed his low effort just wide of the bottom-right corner.

    The Italian made amends 12 minutes later, however, nipping in front of Ismael Diarra Diawara to nod Bernardeschi's outstanding outside-of-the-boot cross in and put Juventus ahead.

    Kean then laid the ball off to Arthur just inside the box on the stroke of half-time, but the midfielder lost his balance as he took the shot on and fired narrowly past the top-right corner.

    Juventus, despite dominating the game and holding the lead, lacked conviction in the final third as Adrien Rabiot burst forward down the left and smashed a shot into the side-netting after the break.

    Kean forced a low save in the 66th minute and should have doubled Juventus' advantage with under 10 minutes remaining after Diarra Diawara spilled Rabiot's initial effort, but the goalkeeper recovered to make a stunning save at point-blank range and deny the 21-year-old, whose contribution proved decisive in settling the group thanks to events in St. Petersburg.

  • NFL Fantasy Picks: Diontae to dominate again for Pittsburgh NFL Fantasy Picks: Diontae to dominate again for Pittsburgh

    Depending on how your fantasy league is structured, it's either the final week of the regular season or the first week of the playoffs.

    Regardless of which category you fall in, if you're still in contention for the title, it is crunch time.

    There's no room for error, and those line-up selections must be right.

    Stats Perform is here with a helping hand once again, identifying four offensive players and a defense worthy of starter consideration in Week 14.

     

    Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks @ Houston Texans

    After a shaky start, Wilson looked more like himself in the Seahawks' surprise win over the San Francisco 49ers last week.

    There was a big-play connection with D.K. Metcalf and he also found Tyler Lockett for what proved the game-winning touchdown to keep Seattle's faint playoff hopes alive.

    Having prevailed despite three turnovers from the Seahawks' offense, Wilson gets to try to continue his upward momentum against a Texans defense ranked 24th in the NFL by yards per play allowed.

    Running Back: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions

    Williams was a workhorse for the Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs in the absence of backfield mate Melvin Gordon.

    He carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards while also catching six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in Denver's loss at Arrowhead Stadium.

    With Gordon back in practice ahead of Week 14, the same share of the touches appears unlikely for Williams.

    But for a rookie running back averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, that may not matter against a Lions defense that has given up 42 rushes of 10 yards or more, tied for seventh-most in the league.

    Wide Receiver: Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Minnesota Vikings

    Trusting the Steelers' offense has been a difficult thing to do in what is expected to be the final year with an evidently declining Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

    Yet one Steelers player fantasy managers, especially those in points per reception leagues, have had no problem believing in is wide receiver Johnson.

    Johnson has double-digit targets and at least seven catches and 80 yards in each of his last four games. His 51 targets over that span are the most in the NFL.

    He has topped 100 yards in two of those games and caught a pair of touchdowns in last week's win over the Baltimore Ravens.

    Only six teams have given up more passing touchdowns in 2021 than the Vikings (21). If their pass coverage is as soft as it was on the final drive of their shock loss to Detroit, Johnson should thrive.

    Tight End: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos

    Back to those aforementioned Lions, for whom the pressure is off after they finally claimed that elusive first win in Week 13.

    That extra freedom might see them look to open up the passing game against Denver, and Hockenson would likely be a beneficiary of such an approach.

    He has a touchdown in each of his last two games and at least eight targets in five of his last seven. That could be enough for a productive fantasy outing even against a stingy Denver defense.

    Defense: New Orleans Saints @ New York Jets

    Injuries look like being too much to overcome for Sean Payton and the 5-7 Saints, but the Jets are an ideal opponent to face for teams looking to stay in the mix.

    Even if quarterback Taysom Hill continues to struggle throwing the ball, the Saints can win this one on the defensive side. 

    Their defense has forced a turnover in three successive games while no offense has committed more giveaways than the 25 racked up by the Jets.

    This one is simple. If you own the Saints defense or are in a position to pick it up on the waiver wire, slot this group into your starting line-up.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.