Neymar or Di María, Pochettino's headache for Real Madrid tie
PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino has to decide between the tireless running of Di María or the Brazilian's attacking talent at the Santiago Bernabéu.
PSG have yet to win away from home in this year's Champions League. Many reasons have been attributed to this and among them is the poor defensive showings of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi in attack.
In three of PSG's four defeats in 2021/22, all three started and Wednesday's Champions League second leg tie against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu will require an improved effort from the front forwards.
Provided Mbappé is fit to start, Mauricio Pochettino will have to decide between starting Neymar or Di María up top alongside Messi and Mbappé. Neymar offers more of an attacking threat. Playing for Madrid wideman Di María, who gave his all in the first leg at the Parc des Princes, will offer more running, tracking back and wide play. The Argentine helped PSG press Madrid in the first leg in Paris.
Di Maria started ahead of Neymar against Madrid in the 1-0 win as Neymar was just returning from injury, but in the previous two games, against Nantes and Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1, the former Barcelona man was Pochettino's choice in attack with Messi and Mbappé.
Neymar's game-changing quality
Neymar is more of a game-changer than Di Maria, however, the former Manchester United attacker is PSG's all-time assist provider. The Brazilian's quality, coupled with his understanding with Messi, has been reason enough to play him ahead of the Argentine in the big games. His poor performance against Nice on Saturday earned him a 4 in L'Équipe's player ratings, and has opened a debate as to whether Di Maria should start in the last 16 clash to give PSG more consistency in defensive transitions.
In the 1-0 defeat to Nice, Di María showed he can put in a defensive display, meaning PSG defend with an extra player when the opposition have the ball. With Neymar, this is more difficult to achieve. In his mind, the word defend does not exist and that is why he demands PSG keep the ball for as long as possible. Pochettino is expected to start Neymar, Messi and Mbappé in attack, but don't rule Di María out.
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