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Is Neymar Playing for PSG vs. Real Madrid?

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Paris Saint-Germain have the most star-studded attacking trio in Europe — Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar — and there’s a chance that supporters will be able to see all three playing together in the Champions League Round of 16. PSG will likely need them, too, with the opposition being record 13-time European champions Real Madrid. 

While Messi and Mbappe have been teaming up of late, Neymar is only now returning from an ankle injury and some reports indicate he’s even an option to start in the first leg against Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes.

Neymar is on the comeback from injury, having hurt his ankle in Ligue 1 action against Saint-Etienne in November as he attempted to avoid a challenge and landed awkwardly.

MORE: Everything you need to know for PSG vs. Real Madrid

The 30-year-old has returned to training for some time now, and has been included for the match against Real Madrid, although he was left out of the starting lineup, instead included amongst the substitutes bench. PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino said he will likely come in to play sometime in the second half.

The boss apparently knew to what extent Neymar would play before matchday. “My decision is made whether Neymar will play [vs. Real Madrid] or not, 90 minutes or less,” manager Mauricio Pochettino said earlier in the lead-up to the opening match of the series. “I won’t say anything for the moment.”

How long has Neymar been out?

Neymar picked up the injury on November 28, 2021 as his side beat Saint-Etienne 3-1 at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (video above).

The club later confirmed that Neymar had suffered ligament damage in his ankle and required a 6-8 week recovery period before returning to full training. It turns out he needed a bit more time, returning to full training on Feb. 10 just days before the first leg against Real Madrid.

That was just the latest physical issue he has had to deal with in recent years. In the past two and a half years, he has also had a hamstring injury (Oct. 2019), bruised ribs (Feb. 2020), COVID-19 (summer 2020), another ankle injury (Dec. 2020), and two adductor injuries (Oct. 2020 & Feb. 2021) that have proved an ongoing problem as he has sought to return to peak fitness.

MORE: Updated list of Champions League top scorers

Neymar’s Champions League Round of 16 history

If he sees action against Real Madrid, the Brazilian will be hoping to use the occasion to reverse a trend: He has been absent from the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 more often than not in the past five years.

The Brazilian signed for PSG from Barcelona in the summer of 2017, commanding a massive $250 million transfer fee, as the French giants made it clear they were looking to build a force capable of winning the UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history.

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