Paris (AFP) – While Paris Saint Germain coach Unai Emery contemplates how to replace Neymar against Real Madrid, the Spaniards’ coach Zinedine Zidane is enjoying the luxury of being able to rest his star, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Neymar was all but ruled out of PSG’s Champions League last 16 second leg against Real in just over a week after tests on Monday showed he’d suffered a broken foot and sprained ankle against Marseille on Sunday.
Emery is due to speak to the media in the early afternoon on Tuesday but there is little hope he will announce good news regarding Neymar.
Meanwhile, Zidane is contemplating how best to manage the man who inspired Madrid’s comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“It is very important to always keep Cristiano in peak form,” said Zidane, when explaining why the Portuguese star would miss Tuesday’s La Liga encounter with Espanyol.
“He knows that sometimes he needs to rest.”
According to medical experts spoken to by AFP, the world’s most expensive footballer, Neymar is almost certain to miss the match due to his cracked metatarsal.
“For sure this fracture calls into question his participation in eight days time,” said Jean-Marcel Ferrat, a former doctor with the France national football team.
“When there is a crack, it’s possible it would become a fracture if he played.
“It would be very risky as it’s a fragile bone in the foot which is difficult to protect.
“(Playing) could compromise the rest of his season.”
According to Pascal Maille, head of the medical department at Clairefontaine, the French national football training centre, Neymar could have played if all he’d suffered was a twisted ankle.
“Playing in eight days time with a twisted ankle, we’ve all done it, you can play with strapping,” he told AFP.
“But a sprain associated with a cracked bone is difficult.
“It’s difficult to get an injection (pain relief) into a bone and there’s a risk during the match of making it worse.”
– Zidane precedent –
Maille pointed to a similar injury that ruined Zidane’s participation in the 2002 World Cup.
“Even a hugely talented player, and even one called Neymar, if he’s only at 60 percent, it’s difficult,” said Maille.
“At the 2002 World Cup, Zidane was suffering from a cracked right femur (shin bone). He played in the last, decisive match against Denmark.
“He played on one leg and it didn’t go well.”
Parisian osteopath Alain Gosp Server added: “What’s problematic is the combination of the two injuries.
“For normal mortals, such a crack needs three weeks to heal.
“It will all depend on his treatment but what’s sure is that he wouldn’t be at 100 percent (in eight days).”
The task facing PSG on Match 6 was already challenging after their late first leg collapse in Madrid that ended in a 3-1 defeat, having opened the scoring.
But while PSG will have to find a replacement for Neymar — perhaps in the form of Argentine Angel Di maria, a former Real player — Zidane, who said he hoped Neymar would be fit to face Real, insisted the French leaders would be able to cope.
“It won’t have any effect on what will happen in next week’s match, that’s for sure,” said the French boss.
“If he doesn’t play, it means another great player will play.
“It won’t be the same but it will be someone highly motivated and ready to play in this type of match.”
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