On February 16, all of the drama between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona will come to a head as the two giants of European football face off in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
Surprisingly, PSG is not one of the favorites to win the Champions League. That honor goes to reigning titleholders, FC Bayern Munich, and Premier League giants Manchester City and Liverpool FC. Still, PSG should be in contention and they’re worth betting on. Even the bookies accepting bitcoin will take that action.
PSG and Barcelona have been at odds for years now. It really started in 2017 when the Catalan club recorded a historic come-from-behind victory against PSG in the Champions League Round of 16. After losing 4-0 at the Parc des Princes, Barcelona went on to win 6-1 at the Camp Nou to advance to the quarter-finals.
Off the pitch, PSG has been the better side. The following summer after that 6-1 loss to Barcelona, PSG paid Neymar’s buyout and brought the Barca superstar to Paris in a blockbuster transfer.
Since then, Barcelona has tried everything possible to bring Neymar back and reunite him with Lionel Messi but they’ve been unsuccessful. February 16, will be the first time Neymar will return to the Camp Nou as a PSG player in what will likely be one of the most watch football matches in years.
I say all of this to set the stage for how important this match is. Under no circumstance can PSG risk Neymar’s health leading up to the first leg of the tie and in my opinion, that includes sitting him on February 7, when PSG travels to rivals Olympique de Marseille.
PSG recently defeated Marseille in the Trophée des Champions and in that match, Neymar returned from injury to play 25 minutes. During his brief cameo, he was the most fouled player on the pitch with Marseille defender, Álvaro González, targeting him specifically.
You’ll remember that González is the player who Neymar accused of racism earlier in the season and clearly, the Marseille man didn’t take kindly to that as you can see in the image below:
Paredes needs to come and deal with this man immediately. https://t.co/U0xFTdGuJt
— PSG Talk 💬 (@PSGTalk) January 13, 2021
González was clearly trying to harm Neymar by any means necessary and that became abundantly clear when the feud spilled over into Twitter. Neymar taunted González with an image of him celebrating and González responded by basically calling him trash.
Mes parents m'ont toujours appris à sortir les poubelles. Allez L’OM toujours💙 pic.twitter.com/wmJGbHTByQ
— Álvaro González (@AlvaroGonzalez_) January 13, 2021
This might be great for the league as a red-hot rivalry between PSG and OM will attract viewers, but considering how publically Marseille celebrated PSG’s Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich last season, they clearly would love nothing more than to injure Neymar and keep him from playing in that important tie against Barcelona.
I understand that Neymar (and any player for that matter) can get injured in any match, however, when you have a team like Marseille and a player like González clearly targeting Neymar, you have to do the right thing and sit him down. He may not like it, but in this case, you have to protect him from himself.
PSG is a much better team with Neymar on the pitch. He makes everyone better, including Kylian Mbappé, and not having him against Barcelona could be catastrophic for PSG’s hopes of Champions League glory.
If you were Pochettino, would you play Neymar against Marseille on February 7 (9 days before the Barcelona match in #UCL)
— PSG Talk 💬 (@PSGTalk) January 14, 2021
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