Paris St Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino has expressed his disappointment that Neymar could not return in time for his side’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.
Neymar missed the first leg of the last-16 tie against his old side due to a thigh injury but his absence barely affected his side, who romped to a 4-1 win thanks to a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick.
The Brazilian had hoped to return for Wednesday’s return leg at the Parc des Princes but will miss the game as he continues his recovery, although Angel di Maria and Alessandro Florenzi are available to play.
“All the medical staff and fitness coaches made a big effort to get him back for this game and to return overall,” Pochettino told a virtual news conference on Tuesday.
“It’s a shame because he was very excited about playing this game.
“He doesn’t just want to play in the Champions League, he wants to be fit and help us achieve objectives in the Cup and league too.
“It’s a difficult moment for him as he expected to recover but he needs a few more days and we hope he can return as soon as possible.”
PSG threw away a four-goal lead in a 2017 last-16 tie with Barcelona by losing 6-1 in the second leg.
But Pochettino said that match was irrelevant.
“I’m not conditioned by what happened in the past or have any emotion about it,” said the Argentine, who reached the 2019 Champions League final with Tottenham.
Meanwhile, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman believes his side has a chance of fighting back from the three-goal deficit if superstar Lionel Messi is on song.
“If Leo is capable of playing one of his best games, everything is possible. He can decide a game at any moment,” Koeman said before his side set off for Paris.
“But he can’t be the only one at the top of his game, everyone needs to be.”