Although the absence of Neymar will be key for PSG in the Champions League clash against Manchester United, the leadership of Thiago Silva could be enough

Paris Saint Germain are set to collide with Manchester United in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, in absolutely the worst timing possible for the French club with key injuries across the team. 

Thiago Silva has the responsibility of showing his credentials as captain, at a moment when his team needs him to step up, more than ever.

PSG began the year with a lot of expectations with Neymar’s second season at the club, but they started their campaign by failing to sign a much-needed defensive midfielder. It is a position where the club has no depth, which is why German manager Thomas Tuchel worked on the skills of centre-back Marquinhos for this role – which is likely to be the case, come Tuesday, unless newcomer Leandro Paredes gets the nod.

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It is a match where PSG will miss the services of both Neymar Júnior and Edinson Cavani, while Manchester United are experiencing their best form in recent memory with 10 wins in their last 11 matches. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have made Old Trafford the fortress it once was, so is there anyone to step up for PSG ahead of this challenge?

Thiago Silva is the figure who must carry the pressure on his shoulders and inspire his teammates with a reassuring performance. It was the Brazilian, who the great Paolo Maldini once described as the best defender in the world ahead of Sergio Ramos, that needs to step up.

But many things have changed since that declaration. The Spanish defender went on to become a big-game player, guiding Real Madrid to trophy after trophy thanks to his leadership skills and decisive goals at key moments. Thiago Silva has struggled with both injuries and the trauma of the 2014 FIFA World Cup blackout against Germany.

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Thiago Silva needing to prove worth to PSG

But the former Brazil captain came out of an excellent World Cup display, on an individual basis in Russia, and seems to have beaten the demons of the past. At 34 years of age, this may well be the final season at a top level before the decline gradually begins. Thiago can still look forward to redeem himself, with a decisive Champions League tie ahead, as well as this summer’s Copa América.

The defensive monster has had very strong performances throughout his career at Fluminense, AC Milan, PSG and the Seleção, but his trophy cabinet does not do him justice and is not worthy of someone so talented.

If he wants to be remembered as a real great in years to come, he needs to step up and carry his team ahead of the upcoming obstacles. It is not going to be easy, and football is never a game that relies on the efforts of one player, but if a figure who was once regarded as the best defender in the world can do it one more time, then this could be the difference-maker for PSG.

Thiago Silva has had many ups and downs throughout his career, but he can still end it on a high if he does his job in Old Trafford.

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