Footy Times

We’re at the same level as them in this tie: Pochettino on facing Real Madrid in Crunch UCL match

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Paris Saint Germaine Manager Mauricio Pochettino and Captain Marquinhos faced the press before the crunch battle against Real Madrid in the opening leg of the Champions League last-16 contest on Tuesday.

The biggest talking point of the meet was the hint that super star Neymar could make his first appearance for Paris Saint-Germain since November, when the club hosts the Spanish giants.

“He is fine and he is full of confidence. Even if he hasn’t played a game he will give 100 percent if he does come on but the coach will decide if he is on the bench or if he plays,” said Marquinhos.

Pochettino and Marquinhos facing the media ahead of the UCL match against Real Madrid. Photo: Jushna Shahin/Footy Times

Responding to a question about the game, PSG captain’s reply was:

“Real Madrid has a long history in this competition. I used to fantasise of playing games like these when I was a kid. Now that I’m here, I’m concentrating exclusively on my team. It’s a pleasure to play for Paris Saint-Germain; I enjoy fighting for my team. The goal for tomorrow will be to put up a solid performance. This home leg is crucial. We’ll have to make an impression and score goals.”

Neymar was all smiling during the training and he could be poised to make his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury against Saint-Etienne on November 28. The Brazilian might link up with his former Barca teammate Leonel Messi in the crunch battle where the pressure is on manager Mauricio Pochettino to deliver.

PSG players training session: Video: Jushna Shahin/Footy Times

The match will be a litmus test for the Qatari owned club as the exit in the round will be hard-hitting given that they have recruited a number of key players including Messi, Ramos and Achraf Hakimi this season in a bid to win the Europe’s elite competition.

“PSG have been chasing this title for 50 years, so we are the challengers,” Pochettino said, referring to his side’s semifinal defeat to Manchester City in the previous edition.

Responding to the question whether Real Madrid or PSG are the favourites, the Argentine came up with a detailed reply

“When it comes to history and titles, Real Madrid is one of the most powerful clubs in the world. With 13 Champions Leagues, it’s clear that it’s not just about the players or the coaching staff; it’s a club-wide strength. Trophies are won by a mix of criteria, especially in this tournament. There aren’t any favourites. Given the calibre of both teams, it may be a Champions League final. Paris Saint-Germain is one of the candidates for this title and hopes to win it. The club strengthened over the summer to come closer to that goal, and I have complete faith in my team and our fans. In this tie, we’re on the same level as them.”

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