While the absence of Neymar is a blow to PSG’s Champions League hopes in the second leg against Real Madrid, there is still a beacon in Edinson Cavani
It’s nice to dominate the French league and domestic cups when you have the financial power of Paris Saint-Germain, but where you really should leave your mark when you want to be viewed as a big club is in the Champions League.
After last season’s humiliation in the Camp Nou, the French powerhouses are back for another shot at ‘the cup with the big ears’ and have once again drawn a Spanish giant in Real Madrid but in contrast to last time around, PSG are now the ones in need of a comeback, having suffered a 3-1 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg.
Oh well, for situations like this you bought Neymar. After all, he was the one that instigated Barca’s 6-1 miracle win over his current club last year. Too bad for PSG, though, as the Brazil star suffered a bad injury last week that has probably ruled him out for the season and so a scenario has unfolded wherein PSG face Madrid in a far from ideal state.
Neymar in tears as he's stretchered off with an ankle injury pic.twitter.com/8QKRE3lmiJ
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 25, 2018
A state without hope? No. The side managed by Unai Emery has too many quality players besides Neymar to be completely written off after the injury of a single player. A elite one for sure.
What we can’t forget, however, is that the same PSG team that bottled it in Catalonia also trashed Barcelona in the first leg with 4-0 in brilliant fashion. In the same setting as then, at the Parc des Princes, PSG will play Madrid and still have a decent chance of advancing to the next round.
With Neymar out, other players have to step up and the particularly experienced striker Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan won’t take on a completely different role now his high-profile teammates is absent but will surely have a few more cameras directed at him.
— Edi Cavani Official (@ECavaniOfficial) March 2, 2018
For Cavani, the game plan will still be the same. Be disciplined in his defensive work rate, tire out the Madrid defense, make the good runs at the right moments and apply the finish. Just like with Neymar on the side, Cavani will be reliant on service. With an in-form Angel Di María and an ever-impressive Kylian Mbappé on either side of him, good balls into his path can be expected.
Cavani will aim to continue his fine goalscoring Champions League form – 14 goals in his last 15 appearances in the competition – and when if succeeds in doing so and guides PSG to the next round, Cavani’s reputation will take another upgrade. It has been a great 18 months for El Matador and a successful latter stage of the Champions League could make him the real King of Paris.