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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Real Madrid-PSG: Neymar "100% fit" for Champions League clash

Neymar is more determined than ever to win the Champions League as PSG prepare to take on Real Madrid in Wednesday's last-16 second leg.

Update:
Real Madrid-PSG: Neymar "100% fit" for Champions League clash
AFP/ Getty Images

Neymar is relishing the chance to create more happy memories at the Santiago Bernabéu after declaring himself fully fit for Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 second leg with Real Madrid.

The Brazil international spent four seasons with Madrid's bitter rivals Barcelona prior to joining PSG in 2017, winning eight trophies – including the European Cup in 2014-15 – during his time in Spain.

He has found the net three times in 11 appearances against Los Blancos with PSG and Barça, two of those goals coming at the Bernabéu, including in a 4-0 LaLiga victory for the Catalans in November 2015.

Neymar had been considered a major doubt for the first leg with Madrid three weeks ago, but he made his return from a near-three-month injury lay-off to play the final 17 minutes of his side's 1-0 victory in Paris.

Having started PSG's three league matches since then, the 30-year-old is ready to make an impact in Wednesday's return fixture in the Spanish capital.

Neymar: "I had targeted this fixture for my return"

"I feel 100 per cent fit," he said at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday. "My injury lay-off was longer than expected, and it was a very tough injury to recover from.

"But I'm 100 per cent mentally and physically ready to help the team, help my team-mates and play a great game. It's a match where you have to all be ready.

"I had targeted this fixture for my return. It's a game that the players want to play, you have to enjoy every minute of these games. These are minutes that will not be repeated. 

"I focused and I worked to help the team. I'm going to give everything and do everything tomorrow. You have to have a very strong mentality to play a great game.

"I have a lot of good memories at this ground. I have scored goals and made assists here. Playing here is always special and not just for me."

Neymar is not the only former Barca player set to feature at the Bernabeu, with fellow forward Lionel Messi also expected to start against a team he inflicted a number of painful defeats on across 17 years in the Blaugrana's first team.

"It's a special match for me and Lionel because we played at Barça," Neymar said. "We are motivated. We want to play well tomorrow and to make some history for PSG.

"I feel good to help PSG. We're ready to play on Wednesday. This is a very strong team in front of us, with players with a lot of quality. But we're not going to give up or hide. We're going to give everything to try to win the game.

Kylian Mbappé's late strike at the Parc des Princes leaves PSG as slight favourites heading into the second leg, but the visitors have been eliminated from three of their eight Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg.

Only Barcelona (four) and Madrid (six) have a worse such record, while PSG have won just one of their previous five away games against Los Blancos in European competition.

But with this year's final being switched from Saint Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris, Neymar is extra motivated to ensure that PSG get the job done.

"The final being in Paris is incredible for us," said Neymar, who has provided more assists (27) than any player in UEFA's primary club competition than any other player since his debut in September 2013.

"It makes us want to reach the final even more, more than ever. But we have to start on Wednesday. We've been working for a long time and Wednesday is a step towards our goal.

"It's a match between PSG and Real, which is always 50-50. There are no favourites as they are two strong teams. We have an advantage after winning 1-0 in the first leg, but we have to think about winning and playing even better.

"We have to attack and defend together. These are things that can help us win the Champions League if we play together. If we play together, we have the possibility of winning the match, but not only that."

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