By Oliver Jensen
Will he fit in time or not?
Neymar’s appearance in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 against FC Bayern Munich (March 8) is on shaky ground. The Paris Saint-Germain forward has been diagnosed with a bruised ankle.
It is unclear how long Neymar will be out. A further investigation is scheduled to take place early next week. How much would Neymar miss Paris? Or to put it another way: will he be missing at all?
Magath on Neymar: “Without commitment, the best technology is useless”
Former Bayern coach Felix Magath is very critical of the Brazilian. “It’s a gift that Neymar is technically good. But how many players do you think are running around who are technically good and can hold the ball up? That’s why you’re not a football player,” he says on “Sky”.
“If you don’t make an effort, then the best technique is useless. Then it’s no use if I’m fast. Then I have no influence on the game if I don’t implement it,” says Magath, who supports the following thesis: ” I think it’s for Bayern not it’s good if Neymar is out.”
A crazy thought: Would it be a disadvantage for FC Bayern if the most expensive football player in history (Paris paid 222 million euros for him) is missing from the opponent?
Neymar convinces in the league – but not in the Champions League
Statistically, Neymar is having a decent season. In league operations, he is Paris’ second-best goalscorer behind Kylian Mbappe with 13 goals, and is also the top assist provider with 11 assists. But great players have to be effective, especially in the important games.
Neymar’s record in the Champions League doesn’t look as good. He scored two goals in six games – only against Maccabi Haifa. In the round of 16 first leg against FC Bayern Munich, he delivered a weak game.
He often wore himself out in midfield duels that led to ball losses. To put it in numbers: He only won 36 percent of his duels. In the supposed 1-1 by Mbappe, Neymar was also slightly offside as the assist provider, which is why the goal did not count.
ran rated Neymar’s performance relatively mercifully with a grade of 3. Former international Benedikt Höwedes, who commentated on the first leg for “Prime Video”, takes a different view than Felix Magath and continues to see Neymar as one of the best footballers in the world.
“He belongs in the ranks of world-class players,” he said in an interview with “gmx.de” and “web.de”. “Perhaps not to the same extent as Messi and Mbappé. Nevertheless, he is an outstanding player with high technical ability. He develops a lot of traction towards the opponent’s goal and also provides a lot of assists.”
Neymar had a hard time against Bayern recently
In fact, Neymar has already delivered some good games against Bayern Munich. In the FC Barcelona shirt he scored three goals in two games in the 2014/2015 season. In 2017, when Paris met FC Bayern in the group stage, he contributed a goal and an assist in the 3-0 win in the first game.
However, that was five and a half years ago. Since then, the games against Bayern have been less successful for Neymar. In four of the last five games against the German record champions, he was not involved in a goal. He has not scored his own goal in any of the last five matches.
And if a Neymar remains without a goal contribution, he has almost no value for his team. Basically, he does not do defensive work. Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are not necessarily known for this either. However, these two top stars have a little more quality, as Höwedes noted.
Hugo Ekitike could replace Neymar
Possibly the storm talent Hugo Ekitiké would get his chance against Bayern and replace Neymar. In any case, the 20-year-old came on for Neymar when he picked up the injury in the game against LOSC Lille.
Whoever will replace Neymar should not dare to park in midfield and wait for assists. Only Messi and Mbappe will do that. Instead of Neymar, there would be a player on the pitch who also works defensively.
From this point of view, the idea that Neymar’s absence would be a disadvantage for Bayern doesn’t sound so crazy anymore.