… As Europa League final in Poland to be played before fans***
Neymar has issued a rallying call to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) ahead of their 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League semi-final showdown with Manchester City.
The Brazilian claimed he was ready to “die on the pitch”.
PSG slipped to a 2-1 defeat in last week’s first leg at Parc des Princes, with Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez overturning Marquinhos’ first-half opener.
An impressive opening to the contest from Mauricio Pochettino’s men subsided, with Manchester City exerting almost complete control on proceedings after the interval.
Neymar cut an increasingly isolated figure, while attacking partner Kylian Mbappe failed to attempt a single shot after starting a match for the first time in his Champions League career.
The world’s most expensive player is aware of the tall task that awaits at the Etihad Stadium.
But he has not given up hope of last season’s beaten finalists returning to the showpiece.
“We have a very difficult match against Manchester City, but we have to believe, no matter what the stats or our percentage chance of winning is,” Neymar told PSG’s in-house channel.
“I think that every Parisian has to believe in us. I’ll be the first to do so.
“I’m on the front line and I’ll be the first warrior to go into battle for the team.
“I’m going to give the best of myself and I’ll do everything I can to qualify, whatever happens.”
With a chuckle, he added: “Even if I have to die on the pitch.”
The stats Neymar alludes to certainly do not make for comfortable reading for those of a PSG persuasion.
There have been 47 previous instances of English clubs winning the first leg of Champions League or European Cup tie away from home.
On each occasion, they have progressed.
Manchester City have won each of their past six UEFA Champions League matches and have 10 out of 11 victories this season.
A goalless draw at FC Porto was the only blemish.
A seventh win would edge Pep Guardiola’s men ahead of Manchester United (1965 and 1966), Leeds United (1969 and 1970) and Arsenal (2005).
It will make them the outright English record-holders for the longest winning run in Europe’s premier club tournament.
PSG have played Manchester City four times in European competitions and are yet to beat the Manchester side.
In the related development, The final of the Europa League in Gdnansk later this month can take place with up to 9,500 fans, European football ruling body UEFA said on Monday.
UEFA said this followed agreement with Polish authorities.
The stadium can use up to 25 per cent of its capacity for the May 26 final.
But foreign fans will have to observe coronavirus rule for entry into Poland and restrictions when there.
Tickets went on sale on Monday and are available until Friday.
The semi-final second legs are this Thursday when Manchester United defend a 6-2 lead away to Roma and Arsenal attempt to overcome a 2-1 deficit at home to Villarreal.