Lionel Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and players of their ilk should be protected by referees, according to Ronald Koeman, who hopes the Paris Saint-Germain star can face Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League tie.

Barca host PSG in the first game of their last-16 contest on Tuesday, but Neymar – who spent four years at Camp Nou – will be absent due to an adductor injury suffered against Caen last week.

The Brazil international is expected to be out for four weeks, in theory ruling him out of the return leg against Barca at the Parc des Princes, where he has scored as many Champions League goals (16) as he did at Camp Nou but from six fewer games (14).

The second leg comes around on March 10, just before the predicted four-week absence period is due to end, so there remains a glimmer of hope for Neymar, and Barca coach Koeman would like for the PSG talent to be involved.

"To see the best game, you always have to have the best players on the field of play," Koeman told reporters on Monday.

"You never know how a team reacts if they lack a player like Neymar. Both teams have casualties. I hope in a couple of weeks everyone can be there to find out who is the best.

"I think we must always protect this type of player, players like Neymar, Messi, Cristiano, because they let us enjoy their quality a lot.

"And in this respect, the referees have to defend them, but in football there is contact and the players have to know that when they play one-on-one, and the referees have to decide when it is an ugly foul, but football is still a contact sport."

Given the tie had been billed as something of a duel between Messi and Neymar, understandably much of the focus from a PSG perspective has switched to Kylian Mbappe, despite the France forward netting only once in his nine Champions League knockout games for PSG

Koeman acknowledged Mbappe's talents but was keen to stress there is more to both teams than a single player.

"It is not a duel between Messi and Mbappe," he continued. "It is a duel between two teams played on one side by Leo Messi, the best player in the world and whom we need in his best form to win the tie, and similarly PSG with Mbappe.

"He is a very fast player who can complicate things a lot. It will be a beautiful game and these players are to be enjoyed as a football fan."

While Koeman suggested he hoped Neymar could feature in Paris next month, Jordi Alba – a former team-mate of the PSG talisman – was brutally honest in his appraisal of the situation.

"I am not going to deceive you, personally, it is better that players like Ney do not play in the opposing team," he added. "He is an important loss for them, like [Angel] Di Maria, who defensively and offensively contributes a lot.

"PSG has important players and I am sure that the people who replace them will have the same or similar level. It will be a contested tie that'll be decided by small details. We also have significant casualties from great players but the people who come in are doing well."

Barca are aiming to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for a record 14th successive season, and the omens are not great for PSG, who have only ever won once away to Spanish opposition in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Lionel Messi has proven with his recent form that he is committed to Barcelona despite significant uncertainty surrounding his future and links to Tuesday's Champions League opponents Paris Saint-Germain, according to Jordi Alba.

Messi rocked world football in pre-season when declaring his desire to leave Barcelona after spending his entire professional career at Camp Nou.

The Argentina international had grown disillusioned with the state of the club under previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu, whom Messi subsequently accused of reneging on an agreement to let him leave on a free transfer.

Messi ultimately decided to stay put, uncomfortable with the idea of dragging Barca through the courts, leaving the possibility for him to depart at the end of his contract in 2021.

While Barca have made no secret of their desire to renew his deal, a situation that is dominating the lead-up to next month's presidential election, PSG are apparently eager to bring Messi to France and even some of their players have openly addressed the prospect.

With PSG up next on Tuesday, attentions understandably turned to Messi's future in the pre-match news conference, and Alba insisted his illustrious team-mate had shown his professionalism with his haul of nine goals in as many games.

"The decision he makes will be well thought out and well-considered," Alba said. "I have said many times that I am a better player on the field when he is on the field.

"It is his decision and it will have to be respected whatever he makes, but now his thoughts are at Barca and you see that in every game.

"Even if he had decided, he wouldn't say whether he is going to stay. He already said before what intention he had.

"Today he is 100 per cent committed. From here, hopefully we can win a title and let him decide at the end of the season.

"What other players or other clubs say, we do not pay attention to in the dressing room. Leo will have the last word."

Ronald Koeman, who addressed the media after Alba, was a little less willing to discuss Messi, yet he reiterated he is optimistic Barca's captain will remain with them after the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

"I don't know if it was the intention from [the media] to talk a lot about Messi, my idea is to prepare the team and the players for an important game," he said.

"Messi is a Barca player and I have high hopes that he will continue to be a Barca player."

Mauricio Pochettino said Paris Saint-Germain will be ready to face Barcelona in their blockbuster Champions League tie.

PSG will travel to Lionel Messi's Barca for Tuesday's last-16 first leg at Camp Nou after edging Nice 2-1 in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Goals from Julian Draxler and Moise Kean guided PSG past Nice in the French capital, where the Ligue 1 champions extended their winning streak to four matches across all competitions.

Post-match, head coach Pochettino highlighted the importance of the upcoming showdown against Barcelona but believes PSG will be ready for it.

"We have to be ready [for Barcelona]," Pochettino told reporters. Because we have a very important match on Tuesday. And the team will be ready for this match.

"First of all it will be recovery, both physical and mental [before Barcelona]. It's important to recharge the batteries.

"On a tactical level, we won't be able to work a lot on the field, but we will be able to use video.

"It's something we've been preparing for several weeks, so that the players can understand the game plan for this match."

PSG have won six of their eight Ligue 1 games under Pochettino (D1 L1), after winning just three of their previous seven at the end of 2020 (D2 L2).

Meanwhile, PSG have won each of their last six home games in Ligue 1 –the longest current run in the French top flight and their longest run since August 2018-March 2019 (15).

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino described his side's 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Nice on Saturday as "solid" and "professional". 

Julian Draxler and Moise Kean scored either side of Rony Lopes' fine strike at the Parc des Princes as PSG – who were without the injured Neymar – claimed an eighth win in their last nine games across all competitions.

The result lifted the defending champions to the summit of Ligue 1, although Lyon and Lille could move back above them if they overcome Montpellier and Brest respectively. 

PSG did not have it all their own way against Nice, who had 13 shots on goal, but Pochettino was pleased with his side's ability to carve out maximum points. 

"It was a professional display; solid but not brilliant perhaps," he told a media conference. 

"But given the circumstances, it's a decent match. It is not always easy to find the expected combinations. 

"We must be ready for the competition because it is not waiting for us and we must win all the matches that come up."

Kean followed up his winner in the midweek Coupe de France victory over Caen with another decisive goal – his 10th in Ligue 1 this season – and Pochettino was impressed with the youngster's contribution. 

"I think he had a good game and he scored," the former Tottenham boss said. "I'm happy with his performance; he can play anywhere in the attacking frontline. We are satisfied with everything he does."

PSG switched to a 4-3-3 formation in the closing stages and Pochettino said tactical flexibility is something he wants to instill in his players. 

However, he acknowledged there will be little time for that during the quick turnaround ahead of Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg against Barcelona. 

"We want the team to be able to communicate, to be confident in different patterns, to find new offensive animations," he added.

"After that, it's not always easy to work a lot in just 40 days [since he was appointed]. By Tuesday, there will not be much time to work tactically; we will instead focus on physical and mental recovery. 

"We have to play in different animations, with different options. It was one of my goals in Southampton and Tottenham and that's also what we are trying to do in Paris: make players feel confident in different systems with offensive and defensive animations."

Diego Simeone insisted he had "no problem" with Atletico Madrid's Champions League home clash against Chelsea being moved to Bucharest.

The first leg of the last-16 tie will be played at the Arena Nationala on February 23 due to coronavirus restrictions.

Atletico coach Simeone had no complaints, saying his team were prepared to play anywhere.

"I don't think it's important to give an opinion because the opinion we might say won't influence on what the reality is. And because we are living a complex moment globally, from a social point of view, it is already difficult to compete and do our job," he told a news conference.

"We will prepare and enjoy what we have. To play anywhere, any time, the day they want.

"There is no problem."

Atletico are five points clear atop LaLiga and have played two fewer games than second-placed rivals Real Madrid.

They are unbeaten in their past 20 LaLiga games (15 wins and five draws) against Granada, who they visit on Saturday.

Simeone has managed 14 LaLiga games against Granada without defeat. Only against Getafe (16) has he managed more in the competition without defeat.

But Simeone is wary of Granada, who are eighth in the table and have lost just two of their 11 LaLiga home games this season.

"We play against Granada and the only thing that keep us busy is to resolve this match. Granada is a team that does very well at their stadium," he said.

"They compete really well as everyone could see in the Copa del Rey and Europa League. It's a combative team and their coach has his ideas very clear. He can play with different systems. That is what keep us busy today."

Neymar's injury is "a real hard blow" to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the Champions League resuming, Lyon coach Rudi Garcia said.

The Brazil forward was ruled out for up to four weeks after suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France clash with Caen on Wednesday.

Neymar will miss Tuesday's trip to Camp Nou to face his former club Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, while he is also in doubt for the return clash.

Garcia, whose team are second in the Ligue 1 table ahead of PSG by a point, said the injury was a major setback for Mauricio Pochettino's men.

"It would be good if the two French teams could represent us with dignity and go as far as possible in the European Cup. It's a real hard blow," Garcia told a news conference on Friday.

"I've always said, the greatest players we want to see on the pitch rather than in the infirmary. It is a great pity that Neymar was injured.

"Nevertheless, PSG are not lacking substitutes."

PSG were runners-up in the Champions League last season, while Lyon reached the semi-finals.

In what is a tight top part of the Ligue 1 table, Lille (54) are two points clear of Lyon (52) and ahead of PSG (51) and Monaco (48).

Only PSG star Kylian Mbappe (22) has been directly involved in more goals than Lyon captain Memphis Depay (19) in Ligue 1 this season.

Garcia, whose team host Montpellier on Saturday, praised Depay and while he said Lyon were in a strong position, his target remains a top-three finish.

"He sets an example as a captain whether on the pitch or in the changing rooms. Memphis Depay and Lyon have the same goal – that the club be in the top three and qualify for the Champions League," he said.

"If the situation allows us to finish in a better position than third or second place, we will talk about it again. But for the moment it's like that, I'm not going to repeat myself."

Ronald Koeman insists the match in LaLiga between Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves is more important to him than discussing Paris Saint-Germain or Neymar.

A huge Champions League last-16 tie between Barca and PSG begins at Camp Nou on Tuesday and Neymar has been ruled out against his former club through injury.

But Barca boss Koeman stressed the home Alaves match on Saturday was most important to him because it is what comes next.

He also suggested he was considering squad rotation but would not make significant changes prior to the PSG game because he lacks options.

Barca lost 2-0 to Sevilla last time out on Wednesday in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie. It was their first defeat inside 90 minutes in 17 matches across all competitions.

But they have won seven and drawn one of their last eight LaLiga games with Alaves.

"I don't think Neymar is an Alaves player," Koeman said when asked about the injury to the PSG forward.

"This is a question for Monday, not for today. I'm not talking about Neymar, I'm not talking about PSG.

"Saturday's game is more important than Tuesday's. We are going game by game and we want to continue our good streak.

"The result of the Sevilla game is there but we played a very good game. If we repeat the game, we do not lose.

"We dominated in many areas against Sevilla, but you also have to have a bit of luck. We need freshness, but the team is feeling very well.

"You don't play a second half like we did in Seville if the team is not physically well."

Defenders Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo are unlikely to be risked against Alaves.

Koeman added: "Sergino Dest, Miralem Pjanic and Martin Braithwaite have done something [in training on Friday].

"[On Saturday] there is training and we will decide if they are on the squad list.

"For Araujo or Pique, I always believe in the margin of a risk. The objective is to recover players until the end of the season.

"If it is the last game of the season, you can risk more, but I am not in favour of risking a lot for a game.

"Those players have to recover well and step by step. If they are there and they can play, even better."

On the prospect of rotation, he continued: "Of course there are players who have been playing for many minutes with us not having everyone available.

"You have to think about giving rest to those players to be well in the next game. [But] not many [will be rotated], because there is not much we can change either.

"We look at the players, we train and we will decide. By winning the game, you are always mentally less tired than when you don't win.

"The goal is to win. But first you have to play and it will be difficult."

The Alaves match will start a run of four consecutive home games and Koeman added: "It's good to have back-to-back games at home because you save yourself traveling.

"We can rest more now and hopefully we will get players back to start having a very competitive squad again.

"It is good to see the youth team players and the youngsters play, but we need our more competitive players back."

Lionel Messi has scored 10 goals against Alaves in LaLiga in as many appearances against them, including four in his last three.

If he plays against Alaves, he will equal the record held by Xavi for most Barca league appearances by playing in his 504th top-flight match.

Robert Lewandowski claimed Bayern Munich's sextuple success is special not only for the Bundesliga giants but football around the globe.

Bayern scraped past CONCACAF champions Tigres UANL 1-0 in Qatar on Thursday to clinch their second Club World Cup title.

It marked the sixth trophy Bayern have won in Hansi Flick's tenure, with that list also including last season's Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League and this term's UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup.

Lewandowski, who scooped The Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2020, has been integral and played a key part in Bayern's win over Tigres as he forced Nahuel Guzman to flap at a cross, allowing Benjamin Pavard to lash in the decisive goal.

"The six-pack is something special, a great story – not only for Bayern Munich, for all of football," Lewandowski told reporters.

"The way we played, that will stay for a long, long time."

Bayern are the first team since Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, in 2009, to complete a clean sweep of every trophy on offer.

"Congratulations to my team, they have achieved something historic with their sixth title," Flick said.

"This is also the best season for the successful Bayern. There was a lot of unrest in the last few days but they still played outstandingly well.

"We are all very, very proud of the team. It is outstanding what they have achieved."

Bayern had to overcome Tigres without a handful of key players; Javi Martinez and Leon Goretzka did not travel to Qatar as they recover from COVID-19, with Thomas Muller then returning a positive result, while Jerome Boateng has had to return to Germany for personal reasons.

Their performance was unconvincing at times, but they ultimately had the quality to get through, with Tigres only managing one attempt on target and failing to muster a single effort after half-time.

Joshua Kimmich turned in another star performance in the centre of the park, having a stunning goal harshly disallowed and creating a game-high four chances, but the Germany maestro regretted that Muller – who is isolating – was unable to take part.

 "It was bitter for Thomas Muller that he wasn't there," Kimmich said. "We also got the win for him and all the others who couldn't be with us."

Bayern Munich completed a year of dominance by collecting the Club World Cup on Thursday, beating Tigres UANL 1-0 in the final.

Victory in Qatar, courtesy of Benjamin Pavard's scrappy second-half goal, clinched a sixth trophy in under 12 months.

Bayern started a 23-match winning run in all competitions this time last year, winning the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, Champions League and UEFA Super Cup in this time.

They added the DFL-Supercup immediately after seeing that streak ended in September, then completed the set by beating Tigres.

Hansi Flick's side went one better than Bayern's 2013 team, who collected five titles - losing to Borussia Dortmund in the domestic Supercup.

The Bavarian giants were dominant last season and have continued to collect results this term, led by a star-studded cast, as we can see with Opta data.
 

FLICK'S MEN ALMOST FLAWLESS

Going back 12 months to the start of that remarkable winning stretch, Bayern have played 53 matches in all competitions, winning 46 of them.

In fact, they lost games just twice in the last year, to Hoffenheim 4-1 and Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2, both in the Bundesliga, although there was also a penalty shootout defeat to Holstein Kiel that ensured they will not defend their Pokal crown this season.

While dominating, Bayern have mainly been a great watch, scoring 157 goals (2.96 per game) and conceding 51 (0.96 per game). Indeed, those 53 games yielded only 21 Bayern clean sheets.

The standout results were obvious, scoring eight in games against both Barcelona and Schalke, but they also netted six versus Hoffenheim and Salzburg, plus five in clashes with Eintracht Frankfurt (twice), Fortuna Dusseldorf and Mainz.
 

OLD GUARD THE STANDOUT STARS

Bayern have a wealth of exciting young talents, but they relied heavily on their experienced campaigners over this glorious stretch.

Thomas Muller (51), Manuel Neuer (50) and David Alaba (48) led Bayern in appearances over the past year. Neuer was named in the starting XI on the most occasions - every time he played.

Robert Lewandowski has been unsurprisingly the leading marksman with his 49 goals in 45 games, but Joshua Kimmich came to the fore in terms of assists, his 23 - along with nine goals - coming from 43 matches.

Kimmich had one more assist than Muller, despite the forward creating 141 chances to his team-mate's 108.

With Neuer playing all but three of the 53 matches, he accounted for 20 of Bayern's 21 clean sheets - Alexander Nubel earned the other - and made 139 saves.

Niklas Sule, at 91.9 per cent of 1,656, was the most accurate passer to start a game, although he trailed the team's most prominent passers by some distance; Alaba played 3,743 at 88.2 per cent accuracy.

Alaba (4,210) also led the way in terms of touches ahead of Kimmich (4,089), who was beaten in terms of tackles by the slightly surprising figure of Serge Gnabry (76).

For 12 months, Bayern Munich have won and won again.

This time a year ago, Bayern were just a point clear at the top of the Bundesliga with the knockout stages of the Champions League still to negotiate.

But an outstanding, record-breaking 23-match winning run – the longest by a German club since the formation of the Bundesliga – took in four titles: the league, the DFB-Pokal, a sixth European crown and the UEFA Super Cup.

Since the conclusion of that remarkable stretch, which started on February 16 and ended with defeat on September 27, Bayern have added the DFL-Supercup, three days after the Hoffenheim loss, and now, with victory over Tigres UANL on Thursday, the FIFA Club World Cup.

Hansi Flick's side have bettered the efforts of their class of 2013, who won a meagre five trophies, losing Pep Guardiola's first game in charge to Borussia Dortmund in the domestic Supercup.

Indeed, this Bayern team, beaten 5-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt last season prior to Flick's appointment, have set a standard never previously seen in German football.

Champions of Germany, of Europe and on top of the world, the challenge now is to stay there.

David Alaba would appear set to leave and there is uncertainty, too, surrounding Flick, while the team have not evolved on the pitch.

It has been easy, of course, for Flick to set his side out to do the same again, having swept past Tottenham, Chelsea, Barcelona and Lyon before edging Paris Saint-Germain in last season's Champions League.

They lost Thiago Alcantara and signed Leroy Sane, who started and struck the crossbar with the best effort of the first half on Thursday – Joshua Kimmich's disallowed goal aside – but Bayern might well have shown only one change from the win against PSG if not for Leon Goretzka's recent coronavirus battle, Thomas Muller's positive test and Jerome Boateng's grave personal matters.

Even then, Benjamin Pavard, only absent due to injury last term, would have replaced Thiago, with Kimmich now back in midfield.

Bayern are attempting to repeat last season; they have three trophies to their name, boast a seven-point advantage in the Bundesliga and are through in Europe, but the swagger is not quite there at this stage.

Falling short of the level of dominance in 2019-20, Bayern are averaging 16.8 shots per match, 6.7 shots on target, 615.8 passes and 62.2 per cent of the possession – across the board the lowest marks since Guardiola arrived in Bavaria.

Continuing at the helm, unlike Jupp Heynckes after Bayern's previous Champions League triumph, Flick has not followed Guardiola in boldly transforming the team.

The Catalan coach shifted Philipp Lahm into the middle of the pitch, where he was joined by a fit-again Toni Kroos and new signing Thiago. Bayern averaged 572.2 passes per game and 61 per cent of the possession in 2012-13 and 727.9 passes per game and 71 per cent of the possession the following year – complete control.

This time, Sane was supposed to take Bayern to another level but has struggled to build on a fine debut against former club Schalke. Alaba's exit would rob them of a more valuable asset.

And given the swashbuckling style of last season's success, even with their trophy haul still growing, anything other than a serious tilt at the Champions League would surely be considered a failure. The bounce of a ball in one of sport's most unpredictable competitions could well dictate the mood music in Munich.

Bayern were value for their victory on Thursday, even if it ultimately relied on a scruffy Pavard strike, and have enjoyed a truly historic year.

However, if they are to prolong their peak and make this more than a 12-month merriment, they might need to again show a little more. Another 23-match winning run ought to ease any concerns.

Neymar angrily rejected suggestions he is a "cry baby" as the Paris Saint-Germain star revealed the great sadness that had reduced him to tears following his latest injury setback.

In an emotive Instagram post, the Brazilian was evidently reeling from an adductor injury sustained in PSG's 1-0 Coupe de France win over Caen on Wednesday which has ruled him out for up to four weeks.

That means he will miss the visit to former club Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League next week, with the return leg on March 10 potentially also coming too soon.

It is far from the first time the 29-year-old has found himself sidelined, but he blasted the notion he was a soft touch on the pitch as he lashed out at his detractors.

"The sadness is great, the pain is immense and the crying is constant," he wrote.

"Once again I will stop for a while doing what I love the most in life, which is playing football.

"Sometimes I feel bothered by my style of play, dribbling and always end up being caught [by challenges].

"I don't know if it's me or what I do on the field. It really makes me sad.

"It makes me so sad to hear from a player, coach, or commentator... 'fall down', 'cry baby', 'spoiled' etc.

"I just want to be happy playing football. Nothing else."

Neymar has often suffered untimely injuries at a similar time in previous seasons during his stint at PSG.

In 2018, he sustained a broken toe in February, meaning he missed almost three months of action, with PSG losing 5-2 on aggregate to eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid in the last 16 in his absence.

An ankle injury then kept him out from January to April in 2019, with PSG going out at the hands of Manchester United, though he was fit to help the Parisians overcome Borussia Dortmund in last season's tournament, prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

PSG went on to lose in the final to Bayern Munich, though Neymar has lifted the trophy before, having scored in a 3-1 win over Juventus in the 2015 showpiece.

UEFA has opened proceedings against Romanian officials Sebastian Coltescu and Octavian Sovre in relation to the events that led to the postponement of Istanbul Basaksehir's Champions League match at Paris Saint-Germain.

The game at the Parc des Princes was suspended after only 13 minutes when it was alleged Coltescu had exposed Basaksehir assistant Pierre Webo to racist language.

Demba Ba, playing for the Turkish side, was seen remonstrating with Coltescu and could be heard saying: "You never said 'this white guy'. Why, when you mention a black guy, do you have to say 'this black guy'?".

The match was completed a day later with PSG running out 5-1 winners. Prior to the resumption, players from both teams warmed up in "No to racism" T-shirts and took the knee in the centre circle.

UEFA launched an investigation into the incident and confirmed on Thursday proceedings will now begin.

A statement from the governing body read: "Following an investigation conducted by a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector regarding the events that led to the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir on 8 December 2020 being abandoned, proceedings have been opened against Mr. Sebatian Constantin Coltescu and Mr. Octavian Sovre for a potential violation of Article 11 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations."

Article 11 states member associations, clubs and players must "comply with the principles of ethical conduct, loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship".

Speaking in December, Ousmane N'Doye – a former Senegal team-mate of Ba's who played for a number of Romanian clubs during his career – said Ba and Coltescu had a productive conversation during a phone call he had brokered between the two.

"When I was in Romania, I met a lot of people there, I know how Romania works," N'Doye told Sport.ro. "If something happens to someone you know about, you have to say something. I saw Sebi's character at matches – my favourite referees know each other.

"I found out Coltescu's number and I told him I was with him. I know he's not racist at all. It was a misunderstanding. I talked to Demba Ba, he's my very good friend. I provided the assist for his first goal with the national team.

"I explained to him and he understood very well. I gave Sebi his number and I told him to call him to talk.

"I've never seen racism in Romania – people were shocked when they found out what I said about Romania. It's my country!

"I explained that to Demba. He said that he had not heard anything bad from Coltescu but believed that the word 'black' should not be used in the stadium. He did not say it was racism, he said that you can't use that word in the stadium and Sebi understood that.

"They talked and they got along very well. They both called me back and told me they were very happy. Demba told me that Sebi is a very good man, as did Coltescu about Demba."

Neymar will miss Paris Saint-Germain's trip to former club Barcelona in the Champions League after being ruled out for up to four weeks.

The Ligue 1 club, who head to Camp Nou next Tuesday, confirmed the Brazilian had suffered an adductor injury in the Coupe de France win over Caen on Wednesday.

The estimated recovery time would also put Neymar in doubt for the return leg of the last-16 clash with Barca, which takes place on March 10.

Neymar suffered the injury around the hour mark of the 1-0 win, with the 29-year-old clutching at his groin.

Though team-mate and midweek match-winner Moise Kean told Eurosport afterwards that "all is well", head coach Mauricio Pochettino was less optimistic.

"His left adductor muscle is affected and they will examine him to see what type of injury he has," he said.

"The reality is that we do not know the extent of the injury, tomorrow we will know more."

Sure enough, a PSG statement released on Thursday confirmed a notable setback for Neymar.

suffered a lesion to the left adductor on Wednesday evening," it read.

"After analysis of clinical exams and scans, it is expected that he'll be out for around four weeks depending on the evolution of the injury."

Neymar has often suffered untimely injuries at a similar time in previous seasons during his stint at PSG.

In 2018, Neymar sustained a broken toe in February, meaning he missed almost three months of action, with PSG losing 5-2 on aggregate to eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid in the last 16 in his absence.

An ankle injury then kept him out from January to April in 2019, with PSG going out at the hands of Manchester United, though he was fit to help the Parisians overcome Borussia Dortmund in last season's tournament, prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

PSG went on to lose in the final to Bayern Munich, though Neymar has lifted the trophy before, having scored in a 3-1 win over Juventus in the 2015 showpiece.

Neymar will miss Paris Saint-Germain's trip to former club Barcelona in the Champions League after being ruled out for up to four weeks.

The Ligue 1 club, who head to Camp Nou next Tuesday, confirmed the Brazilian had suffered an adductor injury in the Coupe de France win over Caen on Wednesday.

The estimated recovery time would also put Neymar in doubt for the return leg of the last-16 clash with Barca, which takes place on March 10.

Moise Kean has moved to allay fears over Neymar's fitness, insisting "all is well" with his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate ahead of a crunch Champions League tie with Barcelona, though Mauricio Pochettino is uncertain.

Neymar started in PSG's Coupe de France clash with Caen on Wednesday, and supplied the assist for Kean's winner in a 1-0 victory.

However, the Brazil star was taken off on the hour, with the 29-year-old holding his groin area.

PSG face Neymar's former club Barca next week, in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter, which comes three days after a Ligue 1 meeting with Nice.

However, Kean – who has now scored 12 goals in all competitions this season – claimed that Neymar is fit and well despite the concerns.

"All is well, he is ready," Kean told Eurosport. "Tomorrow, in training, he will recuperate. He will be ready for the match."

Pochettino, however, took a more cautious approach.

"His left adductor muscle is affected and tomorrow they will examine him to see what type of injury he has," Pochettino told reporters.

"The reality is that we do not know the extent of the injury, tomorrow we will know more."

Neymar has often suffered untimely injuries at a similar time in previous seasons during his stint at PSG.

In 2018, Neymar sustained a broken toe in February, meaning he missed almost three months of action, with PSG losing 5-2 on aggregate to eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid in the last 16 in his absence.

An ankle injury then kept him out from January to April in 2019, with PSG going out at the hands of Manchester United, though he was fit to help the Parisians overcome Borussia Dortmund in last season's tournament, prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

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