Neymar has been included in Paris Saint-Germain's squad for the Ligue 1 clash at Lyon on Sunday, head coach Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed. 

The Brazil star has been out of action since suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10.

He has missed nine games across all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 triumph over his former club Barcelona, but the 29-year-old could make his return at the Groupama Stadium.

Speaking at his pre-match media conference, Pochettino revealed that while Neymar has been included in the squad against Lyon, he is unlikely to feature from the start.

"Neymar is in the list of players who will be in the group," he said. "It is a great joy to be able to count on him. It's a big step for him and for the team.

"We like to apply common sense. After the match against Caen, it's been about five weeks or almost six since he played. It will be difficult to see him from the start of the match.

"It's already good that he can be there. He will get in shape to have more and more minutes."

Second-placed PSG are level on points with Lyon, who sit in third, and are looking to end a winless run of four top-flight games against the other top-four teams. 

However, the reigning champions go into the clash in fine form on the road, having won their last three away games in Ligue 1 without conceding a goal – the best current run in the league. 

PSG suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Lyon in December under former boss Thomas Tuchel and Pochettino has warned his players to expect another tough game against an "aggressive" side.

"The truth is, it's a very important game," he added. "I don't know if it's a final but it's almost like it. It is three very important points for the standings. It won't be definitive, but it will be very important for the classification.

"The circumstances of each match are different. We hope that it [the defeat] will not be repeated but we expect an aggressive Lyon with a lot of quality.

"The players in the middle in Lyon are great players and it will be difficult. Either team can win. We respect Lyon but we are going there to bring back the three points."

PSG announced Mauro Icardi will miss the game after suffering a low-grade muscular tear to his left thigh, while they will also be without Juan Bernat, Pablo Sarabia, Thilo Kehrer and Alexandre Letellier.

Real Madrid are hatching a plan to land former star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Los Blancos' transfer priorities this upcoming off-season appear to be Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Madrid's financial might but Ronaldo remains on their radar.

 

TOP STORY - REAL PLOT 'SYMBOLIC PRICE' FOR RONALDO

Real Madrid are considering a one-year contract for Cristiano Ronaldo for a "symbolic price", according to Cuatro.

The 36-year-old appears set to leave Juventus in the off-season after three years in Turin.

Madrid have reportedly started working on an economic plan to land Ronaldo should their other priorities not eventuate.

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport claims that Paris Saint-Germain are set to agree terms with Brazilian superstar Neymar on a fresh deal which would secure his signature until 2026.

- Manchester United's Diogo Dalot is keen to make his loan stay at Milan permanent, according to Todo Fichajes.

- Todo Fichajes is also reporting that 43-year-old Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is looking to finish his career at Parma.

Juventus are monitoring Paul Pogba's contract situation at Manchester United amid talk of a move, according to Calciomercato.

- GiveMeSport claims Leicester City will make an eight-figure bid for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard with their interest in him previously well known.

Neymar will be reunited with Lionel Messi at Camp Nou, according to the Brazilian's former agent and ex-Barcelona scout Andre Cury.

Cury spent a decade with Barcelona working as their Brazilian scout and played a key role in Neymar's move to the Catalans in 2013.

After forging a fruitful partnership with Messi, with Barca winning LaLiga in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and three straight Copa del Rey crowns, Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 but Cury said the pair could be reunited.

Messi has been linked with a move away from Barcelona, including to PSG or Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, but Cury said he felt the reunion would occur with the Catalans.

"Two years ago, Neymar formally asked me to return to Barcelona, we tried and we were really close to getting him out of Paris, but because of details, it didn't happen," Cury told Argentine outlet El Litoral.

"[New Barcelona president Joan] Laporta is the only one who can bring them back together again, Messi won't leave Barcelona, he decided that his history is in Barcelona and I'm very clear on that.

"Neymar will play with Messi again, but in Barcelona."

The 29-year-old Brazil international has enjoyed a successful three and a half seasons in Paris, winning three Ligue 1 titles, numerous cups and finishing as 2019-20 Champions League runners-up, although injuries have affected his impact at times.

"Neymar has an open door at Barcelona, their fans know he made a mistake and even he recognised it some time later," Cury said.

Mauricio Pochettino revealed Neymar is close to returning for Paris Saint-Germain as he urged critics to respect the team's Champions League win over Barcelona.

The PSG head coach did not specify whether Neymar would come into contention for Sunday's home match against lowly Nantes, who sit 19th in the 20-team Ligue 1 table.

Speaking on Saturday, Pochettino faced questions about the performance of his players in the second leg of their clash with Barcelona, with a string of excellent saves by Keylor Navas, including a penalty stop from Lionel Messi, helping the French side snatch a 1-1 draw.

That clinched a 5-2 aggregate victory, and Pochettino wants to hear more admiration for such a scoreline, given the stature of the opposition.

On the question of when Neymar would return from an injury lay-off that has extended to a month, Pochettino explained: "I think I said there was a chance he'd be back for the Barcelona game.

"We also knew it would be difficult to set a timeframe because players' recoveries can be difficult to predict. He has trained with the squad today, we are pleased with his progress, and we hope he will be back with the team soon."

But Pochettino was probed over how PSG allowed Barcelona to be so dominant for large parts of the second leg of their European tie, particularly the first half, and he was not happy for his team's achievement to be followed by such interrogation.

"I don't understand why we should be so focused on that," Pochettino said.

"That was the story of the first half of the second leg against Barcelona when we didn't play well. That is the reality. But focusing too much on that in my opinion would be a mistake.

"Of course we analyse everything that happens during games but we mustn't forget the team have reached the quarter-finals after beating a strong Barcelona side, and overall it finished 5-2 after 180 minutes. That is the reality.

"There have been games where we played well and lost, such as the game against Monaco [which PSG lost 2-0 last month], and other games where we haven't performed so well.

"The most important thing is to learn and we do have to improve because none of us were happy with the first half, but after achieving such a big target I think our performance in the first half can be downplayed."

With third-placed Lyon only drawing against Reims on Friday, PSG remain in the thick of a title battle, with leaders Lille having a tricky clash with Monaco on Sunday.

PSG sit second as they chase a fourth successive league title, and they cannot afford to slip up against a Nantes side who are equally in need of points.

"Yes, it will be a tough game for us," Pochettino said. "I wouldn't say it would be a trap, but we are aware that after such a happy night for the club and the fans, with us getting through in the Champions League, it is in our minds that the next game is important. That is the theory, but we know it's an important game and we have to put that into practice.

"Preparation is essential in football. We often say we are ready, but Nantes are a physical side who will make things difficult, just as Monaco did after we played Barcelona [in the first leg], but that is why our performance level is essential and we have to be fresh.

"I will try to select a team that can really battle with Nantes and have that freshness that can give us the energy that we need in this sort of game."

A second coming for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish capital?

After a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid, Ronaldo made the switch to Juventus.

But Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer is reportedly keen on a second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO EYEING MADRID REUNION

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to return to Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Saturday's Diario AS.

Ronaldo's future with Juventus has been placed in doubt following the club's Champions League last-16 exit.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who left Madrid for Juve in 2018, has reportedly been in contact with Los Blancos for months.

 

ROUND-UP

- New Barcelona president Joan Laporta will offer superstar captain Lionel Messi a fresh contract in the coming weeks, reports Mundo Deportivo. The deal would include Messi – heavily tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City as a free agent at the end of the season – becoming a club ambassador after retirement. Laporta is also set to push ahead with moves for Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and City forward Sergio Aguero.

City lead the race to sign Haaland, according to the Daily Mail. Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, LiverpoolJuve, PSG, Barca and Madrid.

Joao Felix is also an option at the Etihad Stadium. Cuatro claims the Atletico Madrid star is a target if Aguero leaves City.

- Le10Sport claims PSG remain in talks with Neymar over a four-year contract extension. A deal is believed to be some way off.

Harry Maguire wants United to sign an English-speaking defender, reports The Transfer Window Podcast. The Red Devils have been linked with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. But Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White has emerged as a target.

- TMW Radio says Atletico could be set to make a move for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz. The Spain international has been previously linked with Barca and Madrid.

Mauricio Pochettino explained he simply could not risk Neymar as he is "not in a condition to compete" against former club Barcelona on Wednesday.

The world's most expensive footballer suffered an adductor injury playing for Paris Saint-Germain against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

Initial predictions suggested Neymar could return for the Champions League last-16 second leg this week.

PSG won the first match 4-1 at Camp Nou and Neymar has been progressing in training, with Pochettino repeatedly insisting he was on schedule.

But the head coach acknowledged last week he was not guaranteed to be back in the squad for the visit of the Blaugrana.

A medical update from the club on Tuesday subsequently confirmed Neymar would miss out, and Pochettino added in his news conference that an appearance had become unrealistic.

"It is not a decision," he told a news conference. "The fact is the player cannot play. He is not in a condition to compete.

"He made a great effort to get back quickly, but the goal is not just the Champions League.

"It's a difficult time for him but I hope he can come back as soon as possible."

Wednesday's encounter will be the 21st game Neymar has missed this season, playing just 18 times in all competitions.

Since joining PSG in 2017, he has made 25 Champions League appearances - scoring 20 goals and assisting nine - but only six of these outings have come in the knockout stages. Five of the six were in the 2019-20 run to the final.

Although Neymar will be absent again, he at least will not be in the opposition XI as he was just months before moving to Paris, inspiring Barca's epic 6-1 second-leg win to complete a remarkable aggregate comeback in 2016-17.

However, Barca were at home for the second leg on that occasion and no team in the history of the European Cup has advanced after reaching the halfway point of a tie three or more goals behind with the away match still to play.

Pochettino, only appointed at PSG this year, certainly has no concerns about history repeating itself, even if he is guarded against complacency.

"For us, the past goes back to January 3, when we joined the club," he said.

"It's a game we have to go through to reach the next round. That will be our approach from the first minute.

"We have to be consistent for 90 minutes. In football, the most important thing is to be focused.

"We're going to start as if it were 0-0 and we want to win to qualify."

That focus means Pochettino had little interest in entertaining talk on the future of Kylian Mbappe, the hat-trick hero in the first leg.

"This is a situation that the club has been managing for a long time," Pochettino said. "As I have always said, both sides must agree.

"But both the club and the player are focused on meeting the goals that the club set at the start of the season, arriving at the end of the season having achieved or gone close to those goals."

Ronald Koeman maintains another miraculous comeback against Paris Saint-Germain is not beyond Barcelona's capabilities, especially with Lionel Messi in the side.

Barca head to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday trailing 4-1 from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick in PSG's commanding win at Camp Nou last month, leaving Barca requiring a remarkable result in France if they are to go through, with no team having ever progressed from a knockout tie in the competition's history after losing the first leg at home by three goals or more.

The Catalans are also on a miserable run away from home in Europe, having won only once in their past nine such knockout stage matches, failing to score in six of those games.

Barca pulled off an unforgettable comeback against PSG four years ago, recovering from losing the first leg 4-0 in Paris to progress after a sensational 6-1 win at home.

Koeman accepts a repeat of that famous 'remontada' is less likely given PSG are the home side for the second leg on this occasion, and the Barca boss does not believe Mauricio Pochettino's men will be afraid of history repeating itself.

However, even with centre-backs Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo missing through injury, Koeman will not give up on Messi and Barca producing another match to remember.

"We had a bad result in the reverse fixture. It all depends on how we start the game. We'll try to make life difficult," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"It depends on our effectiveness. They had a lot in the first game. We go out to win on any pitch. We always create a lot of chances. Nothing is impossible.

"The comeback in the Copa del Rey [against Sevilla] has given us confidence, but it's not the same to come back from 2-0 at home as coming back from 4-1 away, and PSG are a very strong team.

"To be able to have any chance, we have to have a complete night and have a huge amount of effectiveness. But we'll try. Hopefully, we can make things tough.

"We have to go out strong and play our game and create chances. If, after the game, we have the feeling we've given our utmost, we'll see what the result is. The worst thing that can happen is to think we haven't tried, or we haven't given everything.

"Of course, if we think we can come back, we need every player at their best level. If Leo is able to play one of his best games, everything is possible.

"He can decide any game in any moment. But it shouldn't only be him at his best level, but the whole team. We need luck, too.

"I don't think PSG are scared of us. I'm sure their coach will prepare them in the best way so they don't think it's an easy game, but there are circumstances that are totally different for a comeback [this time].

"It's always easier playing the second leg at home than away. We need to play our game. I'm sure they have confidence in their new coach."

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong thinks Barca's comeback against Sevilla, when they won 3-0 after extra time at Camp Nou to overturn a 2-0 Copa semi-final deficit, proves the players are united behind their coach.

With Neymar still unavailable due to an adductor injury, De Jong is keeping faith in his side's chances.

"The main objective is always to qualify," he said. "We're going to compete and see how things go.

"We're always united. Recently, we've been getting good results, and we're united as a team – you could see that against Sevilla.

"I don't know if 4-1 was fair, but we played that game badly. We're going to Paris to give a good image of ourselves, to compete.

"Neymar is among the best in the world. The fact he's not available is better for us. If Neymar isn't there, the opposition are less strong."

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has been ruled out of the Champions League last-16 second leg against Barcelona.

The 29-year-old has been sidelined since suffering an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

Having missed the thumping 4-1 first-leg victory at Camp Nou, Neymar had been hoping to return for the visit of his old club to the French capital, even if he was likely to be a substitute.

However, PSG issued an update on Tuesday to confirm the Brazil international remains out of action as he continues individual recovery work.

Left-back Juan Bernat is also still sidelined due to a knee injury, while striker Moise Kean is isolating after returning a positive coronavirus test last week.

South America's footballing governing body has suspended the two World Cup qualifying rounds due to take place in March.

CONMEBOL issued a statement on Saturday confirming it will speak with FIFA and national associations to agree on new dates for the matches.

The decision was taken amid concerns around the logistics of players joining up with their national teams while travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are in place.

CONMEBOL said it was "impossible" to guarantee all South American players could link up with respective squads in a timely manner.

The next two rounds of matches were scheduled to be held on March 25, 26 and 30.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Marquinhos has described claims Kylian Mbappe plays better when Neymar is not in the team as "nonsense". 

Brazil international Neymar has not played since suffering an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10. 

Mbappe has scored five goals in four appearances since then, including a stunning hat-trick in PSG's 4-1 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash. 

Indeed, PSG have won 76.5 per cent of their Ligue 1 games this season that Neymar has not played in, compared to 54.5 per cent when he has featured. 

However, Marquinhos has given short shrift to the suggestion Mbappe flourishes in Neymar's absence. 

"I see people talking and we cannot go into these stories," he told RTL. "We have to stop with nonsense like that.

"We always want to have the best players with us. If you ask Kylian, I think he also prefers it when he has Neymar next to him. 

"Kylian was there and did the right thing, the other players too have been important in this game [against Barca]. When the team is good, that's where the individuals come out even more."

World Cup winner Mbappe has been in wonderful form this season, scoring 23 goals in 31 appearances across all competitions. 

PSG face Brest in the Coupe de France on Saturday before Wednesday's second leg against Barca, and Marquinhos is in no doubt that his 22-year-old team-mate has the belief to take centre stage again. 

"It [the first leg] boosted his confidence," he added. "Scoring three goals at Camp Nou is something very important for him and for us.

"Everyone understands what he is capable of. We are here to help him as much as possible. 

"He is a leader on the field with his personality and his qualities. He had an exceptional match."

Mauricio Pochettino could not confirm Neymar would make his return from injury against former club Barcelona but remains "very happy" with his recovery.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar suffered an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

A predicted four-week lay-off would accommodate a comeback against Barca in the Champions League, having missed the first-leg trip to Camp Nou where Kylian Mbappe inspired a 4-1 away win.

Pochettino has since repeatedly insisted Neymar is on schedule, although PSG's win rate has improved from 66.7 per cent to 73.7 per cent when he has been missing this season.

With the last-16 second leg now just five days away, the PSG coach was asked explicitly about the potential involvement of the world's most expensive footballer against his former club.

"He will not be in the squad for the match against Brest," Pochettino said on the eve of PSG's Coupe de France clash.

"But we are very happy with his progress and we will see in the next few days if he can be part of the group for Barcelona."

Stepping up in Neymar's absence, Mbappe became just the 10th visiting player ever to score a hat-trick away at Barca – and only the second in the Champions League.

But while Neymar – long linked with a transfer back to the Blaugrana – has appeared committed to a future at PSG, speculation persists about Mbappe.

The World Cup winner, back from suspension on Saturday, has been involved in 32 goals in all competitions (23 goals, nine assists), the sixth-most among all players across Europe's top-five leagues in 2020-21.

Pochettino added of Mbappe: "We have a very good relationship, very natural. The club and I want him to stay.

"It's a two-way decision between the club and the player. He is a very important player for us, and we hope he will stay with us for many years to come."

Rather than Mbappe's heroics, Neymar's return or any other Champions League matters, Pochettino is focused on successfully negotiating the Brest tie.

"We have to give importance to [Saturday's] game," he said. "We only think about the Brest game. We know it's going to be a tough game.

"This is an important competition for us. Our focus is on tomorrow's game."

Neymar is progressing well in his recovery from an adductor injury, according to Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino. 

The Brazil star has been out of action since suffering the blow in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10. 

His timeline for a return put him on track to feature in the second leg of the Champions League last-16 clash with his former club Barcelona on March 10, PSG holding a commanding 4-1 lead in the tie. 

And, following PSG's 1-0 victory over Bordeaux on Wednesday, Pochettino gave an optimistic update on Neymar's status. 

He told a media conference: "Tomorrow, we will evaluate the players and the fact that we can recover a few players, that would be a good thing for the match on Saturday [against Brest in the Coupe de France]. 

"Neymar's progression is favourable. In the coming days, we will assess to see if he can be ready." 

PSG remain two points behind Lille at the top of Ligue 1, Les Dogues scoring twice in stoppage time to beat Marseille 2-0 and stay at the summit. 

"I think we started the game well. We had a good first half," added Pochettino. "In the second half, Bordeaux increased the pace of play, we suffered a bit, but then we controlled. We defended well and I'm very happy with the team's performance. 

"We know that we have 10 matches left and that if we win them, with direct confrontations, we know that we will be champions. 

"For all the time that I have been in the business, I know that you have to be patient." 

Neymar remains on schedule with his recovery from injury and has been boosted by his return to individual training, Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino said.

The world's most expensive footballer suffered an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

A four-week lay-off was predicted, potentially allowing for a return against former club Barcelona in the Champions League on March 10.

However, PSG won the first leg 4-1 thanks to a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick, easing the pressure on Neymar ahead of his comeback.

The Brazil superstar has only appeared in 18 of PSG's 35 games in all competitions this season and their win rate has actually improved from 66.7 per cent with the forward to 70.6 per cent when he has been absent.

But Neymar has still been involved in 17 of the 33 goals PSG have scored with him on the pitch in 2020-21; his 13 goals and four assists have him rank second only to Mbappe - 21 goals and nine assists for 30 involvements - among Parisian players this term.

Pochettino will certainly relish having Neymar back in the fold and detailed his progress on Friday ahead of the weekend clash with Dijon.

"Ney follows the protocol that the medical staff have established for him," the coach told a news conference.

"He has started running again on the field and he has done individual physical exercises, not with the team.

"He is in a very good state of mind. He is happy. He is on schedule for his return and, until then, everything is under control."

PSG head to Dijon third in the table and four points off the pace, unable to afford another setback having lost to Monaco last Sunday.

That was their sixth league defeat this term, their most across a single campaign since 2010-11 (eight), the season prior to Qatar Sports Investments' lucrative takeover.

PSG will have to improve in the final third against Dijon, having mustered only a single shot on target at home to Monaco, but will have to cope without the talents of Marco Verratti.

The midfielder, who played 35 minutes as a substitute last week, in which time he played 38 passes in the Monaco half, sustained a knock in training.

"The team lacked freshness and therefore creativity against Monaco," Pochettino said, with Verratti having started from the bench after sparkling as he assisted Mbappe's first goal at Camp Nou.

"In Barcelona, ​​we had been good in this area. In Dijon, we will find solutions and the players on the pitch will be up to the task."

PSG will also be without Mauro Icardi (gastroenteritis), Alessandro Florenzi (adductor) and Leandro Paredes (suspension).

Paris Saint-Germain's aggregate lead over Barcelona will not result in a change in Neymar's scheduled return from injury.

Kylian Mbappe made up for the absence of his star team-mate on Tuesday, with his sensational hat-trick propelling Mauricio Pochettino's PSG to a 4-1 victory at Camp Nou in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie.

Neymar – who scored twice in Barca's famous 6-5 aggregate triumph over PSG in 2017 – missed the game through an adductor injury sustained in a Coupe de France win over Caen.

The 29-year-old is set to miss four weeks, which would put him in line to be available for the return leg against his former club at the Parc des Princes on March 10.

However, asked if PSG's 4-1 lead heading into the game will mean there is less pressure on Neymar to recover on schedule, Pochettino insisted the result has had no impact on the Brazilian's lay off.

"Neymar's recovery is following the plans put in place and the strategy by our medical team," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of Sunday's Ligue 1 clash with Monaco.

"Whether it's one game, one competition or another, the priority is the player's well-being.

"We want players to get back as quickly as they can, but not linked to any specific game. The priority is for Neymar to make a good recovery and he will be back in the week when he is back."

Moise Kean also stepped up to fill the void left by Neymar, and scored the other goal in PSG's rout, heading in from Leandro Paredes' free-kick.

Kean, on loan from Everton, has now netted on his last three starts across all competitions, taking his tally to the season for 14 in total – he has scored a goal every 1.5 shots on target in Ligue 1 this season (10 goals, 15 shots on target), with only Lens' Gael Kakuta (1.3) having a better ratio in the top-flight among players with five or more goals.

"I was not surprised by Moise Kean's performance, if I said I was surprised it would be for a different reason," Pochettino replied when asked if Kean's display at the Camp Nou had shocked him.

"I think he has confirmed he has the potential that we knew about, but players don't surprise us in our team.

"When we take a decision to include a player – possibly they are young or playing in a different position – it's because of what we've seen in training and we think they can contribute positively in the match.

"Sometimes they may not perform as we expect, but he certainly does not surprise us."

With Monaco going into Sunday's game on the back of a 10-game unbeaten streak in Ligue 1 – the best current run in the division – Pochettino also stressed that PSG must avoid complacency, especially with the defending champions having taken only one point from their three matches against teams also in the top four this season.

"PSG is a club that has to win, and that is our responsibility," added Pochettino, who has suffered just one defeat, at Lorient on January 31, since he took over at PSG.

"I don't think you can relax in any way, or use that as an excuse not to perform in the same way we have been doing, and as we did against Barca.

"If we think we can be calmer we would unconsciously be making a big mistake, you have to respect everyone in football and always give your best in every competition.

"That's why we have to work hard, with enthusiasm and focus, so that competing at our best becomes a habit."

Tuesday sees the return of the Champions League as the first two last-16 ties get started, including arguably the pick of the bunch; Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain.

While we have been robbed of the Messi v Neymar narrative after the Brazilian was ruled out for four weeks with an adductor injury last week, there should still be plenty of talent on display.

Messi can still expect to be the focus, given the strong transfer links to PSG, while the Parisians will be hoping for a hint of revenge for the famous 'Remontada' of 2016-17.

Also in action on Tuesday are Liverpool and RB Leipzig, with the Germans' home leg taking place in Budapest due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions imposed in Germany.

Ahead of the two tantalising fixtures, here are the key stats for both games…

Barcelona v PSG

4 – Barca and PSG last met at this same stage in 2016-17, when the Catalans became the only team to ever qualify for the next round in the Champions League after losing by at least four goals in the first leg. They won the second leg 6-1 in Camp Nou.

14 – Barca are hoping to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the a record 14th consecutive campaign. They were last eliminated at this stage in 2006-07 by Liverpool.

10 – While PSG have only one away win against Spanish opposition (Valencia) in the Champions League knockout phase, Barca have never lost at home to a French side in 10 such games in this competition.

2 – Antoine Griezmann has more yellow cards (two) than he has Champions League goal involvements (one assist) for Barca at Camp Nou in seven appearances.

1 – Kylian Mbappe has scored only one goal in his nine Champions League knockout games with PSG. He had found the net six times in six knockout games with Monaco.

RB Leipzig v Liverpool

0 – RB Leipzig have played 22 matches in the Champions League – none have ended goalless.

8.9 – While Liverpool are known for their effective pressing, Leipzig are even more aggressive. The German have allowed their opponents just 8.9 passes on average before intervening defensively in the competition this season, the lowest figure of any side in 2020-21.

1 – Roberto Firmino has scored only one goal in his previous 16 Champions League games. That came in last season's last-16 second leg against Atletico Madrid.

6 – Leipzig wing-back Angelino has contributed three goals and three assists in the Champions League this term – Alvaro Morata (six goals, one assist) is the sole Spaniard with more goal involvements in 2020-21.

45 – Liverpool were the only team not to concede a single goal in the first 45 minutes of matches in the group stage.

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