Neymar confirms he is clear of coronavirus ahead of PSG's clash with Marseille

By Sports Desk September 11, 2020

Neymar confirmed he has tested negative for coronavirus and has been given the all-clear to resume training with Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Sunday's Ligue 1 clash with Marseille.

The Brazil international was one of seven players ruled out of PSG's 1-0 loss to Lens in their opening game of the season on Thursday after contracting COVID-19.

However, head coach Thomas Tuchel was hopeful of welcoming back at least a few of his quarantined players for this weekend's Classique with Marseille.

Former Barcelona forward Neymar is among those now back in contention after completing a period of self-isolation and being given the go-ahead to link up with his team-mates.

"I went back to training, super happy #CORONAOUT," Neymar posted on Twitter on Friday, accompanied by a 'zany face' emoji.

An error from third-choice goalkeeper Marcin Bulka gifted what proved to be the winning goal to Ignatius Ganago in PSG's loss to Lens at Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

The reigning champions were also without Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes, Mauro Icardi, Marquinhos and Keylor Navas for the match.

Asked about the possibility of welcoming back those players against Marseille, Tuchel said: "If possible, a few players could play.

"But if they play, they would only have a leg work-out before then. If Neymar, Di Maria play, yes, but they would play after two weeks without training too.

"Physically, I can't wait for them to be the decisive guys. It's always risky. We have to talk with the players, the doctors too."

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    Kylian Mbappe scored two and set up another as Paris Saint-Germain beat Montpellier 4-0 in Ligue 1 on Friday.

    Having faced recent questions over his form and focus, Mbappe responded with a decisive display at Parc des Princes to help Mauricio Pochettino's men to three points.

    Mbappe broke the deadlock after Montpellier goalkeeper Jonas Omlin had earlier been sent off for fouling the France star, and he set up Neymar to mark his 100th PSG appearance with the second goal.

    Mauro Icardi and Mbappe added two further goals within three minutes as the champions eased to a routine win, their fourth in a row by at least four goals against Michel Der Zakarian's side.

    Montpellier, six games without a win in Ligue 1 before this contest, were left with a huge task when Omlin flattened Mbappe following a stunning throughball from Leandro Paredes, with a VAR review leading to the keeper's dismissal.

    PSG eventually capitalised on their dominance 34 minutes in, Neymar and Angel Di Maria each playing decisive passes before Mbappe clipped a cool finish over substitute keeper Dimitry Bertaud.

    It was Mbappe's 13th league goal of the season and the 13th time he has been assisted by Di Maria in the competition.

    Neymar almost doubled the lead before the break but was thwarted by a good save from Bertaud, who then denied Mauro Icardi acrobatically early in the second period.

    The second goal came on the hour mark, though, Mbappe teeing up Neymar for a simple finish after a fine lofted pass from Marco Verratti.

    With the floodgates suddenly open, PSG scored a further two goals inside three minutes, Icardi drilling high into the net after good work from Alessandro Florenzi and then setting up Mbappe for a routine finish after Neymar led a quick break.

    Bertaud did manage to deny Layvin Kurzawa a stunning fifth, tipping the full-back's bicycle kick onto the crossbar.

     

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  • Atletico champions, Sevilla join big three in top four – Stats Perform AI completes LaLiga season Atletico champions, Sevilla join big three in top four – Stats Perform AI completes LaLiga season

    Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

    Suarez's double over Eibar on Thursday secured a 2-1 victory for the league leaders, who are seven points clear at the top with a game in hand over champions Real Madrid in second.

    The Uruguay star, who has netted six in his past six league games for Atleti, is joint-top of the division's scoring charts alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi.

    It seems increasingly likely that Suarez, and certainly Atletico, will be at the top of the tree come the end of 2020-21.

    With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

     

    The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

    Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

    The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

    All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

    The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

     

    ATLETICO WIN AT A CANTER

    Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

    Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

    Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

    Those two are, at least, very likely to end up in a Champions League place. They are expected to be joined there by Sevilla, who have a 47.8 per cent chance of finishing fourth on 65 points, just three above Villarreal and six clear of Real Sociedad. The remaining European spot is predicted to be a close battle between Granada, Getafe and Real Betis, with Diego Martinez's men odds on to snatch it.

    Valencia fans might be enduring a difficult time (again), and our sim has Los Che missing out on European football once more, if only by four points. That said, they still have a 3.6 per cent chance of a Europa League spot, which is better odds than those given to Supercopa de Espana winners Athletic Bilbao.

     

    WOE FOR HUESCA

    At the other end of a relatively tight table, in which just 11 points will separate seventh from 16th, it looks like Huesca are in for a tough run-in. They are given a 59.7 per cent chance of finishing bottom of the pile and just a 5.1 per cent shot at avoiding relegation, having won only once so far this term.

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    Real Valladolid are expected to have just enough to stay out of trouble, although they have scant room for manoeuvre, with our predictor giving them an equal 15.1 per cent chance of finishing 17th and 18th.

    Eibar and Cadiz are looking likely to stay safe; indeed, Jose Luis Mendilibar's men, along with Celta Vigo and Athletic, are given a 0.1 per cent chance of gatecrashing the top four. They might well have boosted those odds this week were it not for that pesky Suarez.

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