'PSG better without Neymar': Westwood's bold claim set to heat up Bayern's 2nd leg meeting with Messi and Co. in UCL
Neymar suffered an ankle injury during PSG's Ligue 1 match against Lille on February 19. Neymar has had several episodes of instability in his right ankle. The former FC Barcelona star has missed more than 100 games for PSG. Bayern Munich will meet Neymar-less PSG in the 2nd leg of the Champions League last 16 phase at Allianz Arena on Thursday.
Already out of the blockbuster round of 16 second leg fixture between Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, Brazilian superstar Neymar will now miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. PSG have confirmed that Neymar is sidelined for three to four months as the former FC Barcelona star will undergo ankle surgery in Doha.
Neymar's ankle injury officially ended his bitter-sweet 2022-2023 season at PSG on Monday. The Brazilian No.10 has played just 48% of possible Ligue 1 minutes since completing his sensational transfer to PSG from Barcelona in 2017. In Neymar's absence, Lionel Messi-starrer PSG is tasked to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against strong title-contenders Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 phase of the UEFA Champions League.
The Bavarian giants had successfully neutralised the Neymar threat in the 1st leg of the mouthwatering tie at Parc des Princes. Responding to a Hindustan Times query during a special interaction organised by Sony Sports Network, former Premier League footballer Ashley Westwood expressed his reservations about Neymar's absence impacting the outcome of the second leg tie between PSG and Bayern Munich.
“PSG are better without Neymar. You know he is so good on the ball, he is so fast in his dribbling technique. When he gets on the ball, he kind of attracts 2 or 3 players from the opposition, because there's a lot of focus on stopping him. If you are to be PSG with him and Messi in the side, they don't defend very well from the front. Both of them - they are not great at possession. They don't do the hard yards if you would like. And it can be a little bit open when you play both. What's more important is Mbappe coming back if you look at the first leg - 1st half, Bayern completely dominated PSG. And only 10 minutes into the 2nd half and Mbappe came on - the difference was there and apparently, he scored a goal which was disallowed by inches for offside,” Westwood told Hindustan Times.
Neymar has netted 18 goals for PSG across all competitions this season. However, PSG's world-record signing (222 million euros) only struck thrice in nine appearances after the FIFA World Cup break. Neymar has missed more than 100 games for PSG due to either injury or suspension. Kingsley Coman's stunning opener turned out to be the only goal of the contest as Bayern Munich outclassed PSG 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in the 1st leg. The Bundesliga giants will meet Neymar-less PSG in the 2nd leg of the Champions League last 16 phase at Allianz Arena on Thursday.
“Obviously, Mbappe, Messi and Neymar link together very well and PSG look like a different side but it's tough to have all three of those in the side, it leads you very open defensively because they don't defend really well from the front. But you cannot afford to have 3 luxury players on your side and expect to be keeping clean sheets day in and day out. So it's a loss because he (Neymar) is one of the best players in the world. But arguably could make them a little bit more solid because they may be able to defend possession a little bit better which you need to do against Bayern Munich - you know they are a fantastic side, one of the favourites to win it,” the former Bradford City AFC star added.
Watch the LIVE coverage of UEFA Champions League 2022-23: Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund on Sony Sports Ten 2, Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) & Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on 8th March 2023 at 1:30 am IST.