MADRID (Reuters) - The absence of an injured Neymar from Paris St Germain’s line-up for next Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 tie will not boost Real Madrid’s chances of securing victory, the Liga side’s coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday.
The world’s most expensive player has been ruled out of action for three months after opting for surgery on a fractured metatarsal in an attempt to get fit for the World Cup in June.
Former Real winger Angel Di Maria is likely to take the Brazilian’s place at the Parc des Princes as PSG chase down a 3-1 deficit from the first leg against the 12-times European champions.
“The absence of Neymar is not a relief for us at all. We feel sorry for Neymar, but PSG are a very strong team and the player who comes in for him will be a very good player, we can be sure of that,” Zidane told a news conference ahead of Real’s Liga game at home to Getafe on Saturday.
“We don’t think it will be any easier without Neymar, we know that in Paris we’ll have to be at 2000 percent if we want to go through.”
Madrid midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were again absent from training on Friday due to a knee and hamstring injury respectively, increasing concerns they will not be fit for the second leg in the French capital.
Influential leftback Marcelo completed full training for a second day in a row after recovering from a hamstring problem and Zidane said he could feature against Getafe.
“The most important thing is that Marcelo is available tomorrow. We’ll keep checking on Modric and Kroos each day, the thing that concerns us the most is how they are feeling,” said the coach.
Real are third in the Liga standings and saw a five-game winning streak in all competitions snapped by a surprise 1-0 defeat to Espanyol on Tuesday, leaving them 15 points behind table-topping Barcelona and 10 adrift of second-placed Atletico Madrid.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose the game but we need to stay focused until the end of every game,” added Zidane, referring to Gerard Moreno’s injury time winner for Espanyol.
“We are very annoyed about that but it doesn’t change anything and we have to look to the Getafe game, try to play well and win again. The players are naturally thinking about Tuesday (against PSG) but in order to play well there we need to focus on playing well tomorrow.”
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar