Neymar will not start for Paris Saint-Germain against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, sources have told ESPN FC.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel has all his forwards available for the group stage game at the Bernabeu stadium, and has decided that Neymar, alongside Edinson Cavani, will sit on the bench. Instead, Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria will start up front for the Parisians.
Tuchel is yet to tell his players and he will only do so in the team meeting just before leaving the hotel to travel to the stadium, sources told ESPN FC, but he has already made his mind up.
The main reason is that Neymar — ranked the No. 8 forward in ESPN FC 100 — is only just back from an injury that sidelined him for a few weeks.
The Brazil international only played 65 minutes at home in the 2-0 win against Lille on Friday, but struggled to make an impact on the game. He is short of match fitness and Tuchel does not want to take the risk of starting him in a game of this calibre.
Tuchel also does not want to abandon his 4-3-3 formation, which means that only three of his five star players can start.
Cavani is way below Icardi in the pecking order now and Di Maria has been PSG’s best player so far this season — notching nine goals and nine assists in 19 games in all competitions — and cannot be dropped.
The last spot was therefore between Neymar and Mbappe.
The French prodigy is also not at his best physically after suffering two injuries and a virus since the start of the season. He will unlikely be able to play the full 90 minutes on Tuesday night, but Tuchel has judged him more ready than Neymar.