PARIS (Reuters) - Paris St Germain are hoping their Parc des Princes crowd will help them overturn a 3-1 deficit in their Champions League last 16 return leg against Real Madrid as they try to cope without the injured Neymar.
The talismanic Brazilian forward was ruled out of the game on Tuesday after undergoing foot surgery, but PSG coach Unai Emery is confident the home fans will play a key role.
“You play a game with your head and your heart. Tomorrow the heart will be the most important thing,” Emery told a news conference on Monday.
“And we will be playing with 12 players tomorrow because we will have the backing of the crowd.”
PSG have lost their last five return legs in the Champions League, notably going out in the last 16 last season when they slumped to a 6-1 loss at Barcelona after beating the Spanish side 4-0 in Paris.
“Our team, even without Neymar, is able to beat the best Real Madrid team,” said Emery.
“With Neymar, PSG is stronger, but we are still strong without him,” full back Dani Alves said.
“There are two options: either we sit and cry, or we stand on our feet and fight.”
If they are to knock out the defending champions, PSG will need to be more focussed than during the first leg, when they conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes.
“In the first leg we played better, had the best opportunities. But this time we need to do that for 90 minutes, not just 80,” Alves said.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, who was born in Marseille, the home of PSG’s bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille, is expecting a cold reception.
“Well, we’re in Paris and I’m from Marseille. But the important thing is that we are ready to play a great game of football,” the former France playmaker told a news conference.
Zidane was evasive on the fitness of midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, who suffered recent injuries.
“I consider that everyone can play and I don’t field players who are at 80 percent. But this is not a Champions League final, it’s a last 16 game,” he said.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge