Brazil head coach Tite lauded Neymar after the superstar inspired the Copa America champions to a 3-0 win against Venezuela in Sunday's curtain-raiser.

Neymar scored and was involved in the two other goals as Brazil kicked off their title defence in victorious fashion behind closed doors in Brasilia.

Marquinhos opened the scoring following Neymar's corner in the 23rd minute before the latter converted a penalty after the hour mark.

It was Neymar's 67th international goal – just 10 shy of Pele's all-time record. Since making his Brazil debut in August 2010, the Paris Saint-Germain forward has scored 48 more goals than any of his Selecao team-mates.

Neymar then provided the cross for substitute Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa to complete the scoring in the final minute of regulation as Tite refused to make comparisons with Brazil greats Ronaldo and Romario.

"When Neymar is well physically and well in his head, good things happen," Tite told reporters after the 29-year-old created seven chances against Venezuela – the most by any Brazil player in the Copa America since his international bow.

"When you have a player with the technical quality that he has, you gain in assist ability, with the left foot or with the right foot, and he becomes an unpredictable player.

"When you stop him in a more advanced position on the field of play it is better for him, because the opponents are afraid of making him an infraction in a dangerous place on the field, so we structure the team so that he receives fewer balls, but to do it in a more efficient way for the creation of the game.

"It would be an injustice to compare players from different eras, because the players of my generation were extraordinary, Neymar is also extraordinary, and a while ago Ronaldo and Romario were also extraordinary.

"There are different stages and moments, so you have to be very careful not to compare them."

Neymar was on target as Brazil opened their Copa America defence with a 3-0 win over Venezuela at Estadio Nacional on Sunday. 

Hosting the tournament after it had been moved from Colombia and Argentina amid political unrest in the former and a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the latter, Brazil were never troubled by a Venezuela side that had reported 12 positive coronavirus tests amongst their ranks earlier this week. 

Marquinhos got them on their way midway through the first half with his third international goal before Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar doubled their advantage from the penalty spot in the 64th minute.

Brazil – who finished with 18 shots to Venezuela's three – added a third late on when substitute Gabriel Barbosa turned home a Neymar cross from close range.

Brazil started on the front foot and twice went close early on, Joel Graterol keeping out Richarlison and Eder Militao heading wide from a teasing Renan Lodi cross.

They were rewarded for their bright start in the 23rd minute when Marquinhos flicked home from close range after Neymar's corner had fallen kindly to him. 

Richarlison saw an effort ruled out for offside soon after, while Neymar dragged wide from a promising position as Brazil failed to extend their advantage before the interval.

Neymar was unable to steer home a Gabriel Jesus cross at the start of the second period, but he stroked home from the spot shortly after the hour mark after Danilo had been clipped in the area by Yohan Cumana. 

Late on Neymar turned provider for Brazil’s third in the 89th minute, rounding Graterol and crossing for Barbosa to chest home from almost on the line. 

What does it mean? Familiar home comforts for Tite's men

Brazil will face significantly tougher tests than the one posed by a depleted Venezuela side, but Tite will be pleased to see his side get off the mark with the minimum of fuss. 

The Selecao have now gone 21 Copa America games without losing when the tournament takes place on home soil (W13 D8), while they have lifted the title on the previous five occasions they have hosted the tournament. Their rivals have been warned. 

Neymar sparkles for Brazil

The PSG forward was at his talismanic best, taking five shots and making a game-high seven key passes. He also competed in a whopping 17 duels – the most of any player on the pitch – and drew the most fouls (four) of any player.

Jesus struggles to make an impact

Jesus had just a solitary shot and failed to play a single key pass to a team-mate in what was an underwhelming display. Roberto Firmino might just fancy his chances of replacing him for Brazil's next game after this showing from the Manchester City man. 

What's next?

Both sides are in action again on Thursday, with Brazil facing Peru in Rio de Janeiro and Venezuela taking on Colombia in Goiania.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were on target as Paris Saint-Germain kept alive their hopes of retaining the Ligue 1 title with a 4-0 victory over Reims on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino's side will go into next weekend's final round of the season against Brest one point behind leaders Lille, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Saint-Etienne.

PSG will only get their hands on the title if they better the result Lille get against Angers next weekend, needing Christophe Galtier's team to slip up.

Neymar opened the scoring early on with a penalty after Yunis Abdelhamid had been dismissed for handling an Mbappe shot. World Cup winner Mbappe, Marquinhos and Moise Kean wrapped up the most routine of victories.

Any hopes Reims had of securing back-to-back wins at the Parc des Princes were all but extinguished in the 13th minute.

Abdelhamid received his marching orders for handling Mbappe's goalbound effort, with Neymar nonchalantly slotting home his ninth league goal of the campaign from the resulting penalty.

Mbappe was not to be denied 11 minutes later, sliding home from close range after Thomas Foket had inexplicably rolled the ball across the face of his own goal.

France international Mbappe then fired wide after being played in by a sumptuous Neymar flick as PSG failed to add the third goal their dominance deserved before the interval.

Mbappe went close on a number of occasions at the start of the second period, while Neymar saw an effort ruled out for offside after Ander Herrera had struck the post from distance.

Neymar turned provider for PSG's third after 68 minutes, his corner from the left headed past Predrag Rajkovic by Marquinhos from six yards.

Substitute Kean fired into the bottom-right corner from 15 yards a minute from full-time as PSG inflicted a first defeat in six away games on Reims.

Mauricio Pochettino has not given up on winning Ligue 1, but conceded Paris Saint-Germain got no less than they deserved against Rennes as their title hopes took a hit following a 1-1 draw.

Neymar celebrated his new four-year deal with PSG by scoring a contentious penalty to put Pochettino's team ahead on Sunday, only for Serhou Guirassy's fine header to seal a point for Rennes.

PSG were in fact lucky not to lose, with Presnel Kimpembe seeing red late on and Keylor Navas pulling out some impressive saves to keep it at 1-1.

The draw leaves PSG three points behind Lille with two games remaining – no team has ever been crowned Ligue 1 champions with such a gap at this stage – and the title may well be wrapped up next week should the capital club drop points against Reims and the leaders beat Saint-Etienne.

Indeed, it is not just the title PSG have to worry about, with their place in the Champions League no certainty.

PSG edged possession (57.8 per cent) against Rennes, but their tally of 12 attempts was seven fewer than the hosts managed, while only four of them were on target – Bruno Genesio's European hopefuls, who were without key midfielders Steven Nzonzi and Eduardo Camavinga, managing 10 in total.

"A lot can still happen, we are disappointed, but we have to give credit to Rennes, who had a very good game," PSG head coach Pochettino in his post-match news conference.

"We have to win the next matches to hope for something. We were not better than Rennes over 90 minutes, we did not deserve to take three points.

"It's a season with a lot of ups and downs, we arrived four months ago to help the club. A club like PSG must always think in the future. Every club thinks of improving, decisions will be made at the end of the season, we always think of improving."

While Neymar toiled, he was not helped by the absence of Kylian Mbappe, who was suspended – albeit he has been struggling with an injury which kept him from featuring against Manchester City in the Champions League midweek as PSG lost in the semi-finals.

Asked if Mbappe's absence was a major factor in the poor performance, Pochettino replied: "We must not think that we did not win because of an absence."

PSG have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight Ligue 1 fixtures, conceding 11 goals in total, making it their longest such run since a streak of 11 top-flight matches back in 2012.

The frustration boiled over heading towards the dying embers, with France centre-back Kimpembe lunging in on Jeremy Doku and receiving a straight red.

"We see frustration with the result, he arrives late. We are professionals, we know our responsibilities, our obligations," Pochettino said.

PSG captain Marquinhos, however, did not hold back.

"We will play what we have left to play. We have a Coupe de France to go for and the championship to continue to put pressure on Lille," he told Canal+.

"We have to go 100 per cent. It is unacceptable to leave points like that when we are Paris Saint-Germain. It can happen once, twice, but it's starting to happen a lot. We have to be sincere, it's not our best season, we weren't very strong. We have to do a lot better at the end of the season."

Paris Saint-Germain moved back to the top of Ligue 1 thanks to a battling 2-1 win over Lens at Parc des Princes on Saturday.

Neymar scored the opener and crossed for Marquinhos to head in the champions' second as they responded well to their 2-1 home loss to Manchester City in the Champions League this week.

With Kylian Mbappe missing through injury and Marco Verratti, Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera starting on the bench, PSG were made to work hard for a result that lifted them back above Lille at the summit, at the very least for a few hours.

Ignatius Ganago pulled a goal back for European hopefuls Lens, but Mauricio Pochettino's men held firm for a morale-boosting win ahead of their second-leg clash with City in England next Tuesday.

PSG, who lost right-back Colin Dagba to injury before the 20-minute mark, had few early chances despite their dominance, although Danilo Pereira tested Wuilker Farinez with a powerful header that was well saved by the Lens keeper.

Lens had done well to keep Neymar quiet but gifted him the opener 32 minutes in, the Brazil star slotting home confidently after Julian Draxler had pinched possession from Facundo Medina on the edge of the box.

Pablo Sarabia should have scored a second after Neymar's header from a fine Marquinhos pass, but Farinez produced a superb one-handed stop, and Lens could have snatched an equaliser before half-time had Jonathan Clauss and Clement Michelin shown more composure inside the box.

Lens began the second half well but PSG doubled their lead just before the hour mark, Marquinhos rising unchallenged to head in Neymar's corner from the right.

However, the visitors halved the deficit barely two minutes later, Ganago hooking the ball through Navas' legs after Arnaud Kalimuendo sliced an attempted overhead kick.

Neymar curled a free-kick off the right post, seemingly via the fingertips of Farinez, and Mauro Icardi saw a goal disallowed for a Marco Verratti offside, but Lens could not capitalise on those moments of fortune.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Marquinhos lamented two "really stupid goals" conceded against Manchester City, but he remains steadfast in his belief they can reach the Champions League final for a second consecutive season.

PSG – runners-up in 2020 – looked on track to clinch a first-leg advantage over City in the semi-final thanks to Marquinhos' 15th-minute header before the English visitors produced a sensational second-half comeback on Wednesday.

Outplayed in the opening half, Pep Guardiola's high-flying City seized control of the tie as Kevin De Bruyne's awkward cross-cum-shot found the back of the net just past the hour-mark and Riyad Mahrez's free-kick put the Premier League leaders ahead seven minutes later.

PSG's collapse was compounded by Idrissa Gueye's red card for a dangerous challenge on City star Ilkay Gundogan with 13 minutes remaining in the French capital.

It was the first time PSG suffered Champions League defeat when leading at half-time since 2001 – against Deportivo La Coruna – but Marquinhos is refusing to give up on reaching the Istanbul decider ahead of the return leg in Manchester.

PSG are winless in their four European games against City (D2 L2), only facing Juventus (eight) on more occasions without ever winning in their history.

"It's true that in the second half we were too far behind, we couldn't get out of our half," Marquinhos, who became only the third player in Champions League history to score in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals in consecutive seasons, told RMC Sport.

"The City team were more aggressive, they played higher. That was it. We need to be more consistent in both periods in the next game, we have 90 minutes left but we have to do better to get to the final.

"It's hard to analyse immediately, but it's hard when you run behind the ball. We couldn't counter them well. You have to be smart, see the strategies that can be put in place. We conceded two really stupid goals, these are details, it's the Champions League. You have to better manage these little details and stay strong in goal situations.

"The return match? It will take personality, whoever does not believe in it should not even go there. It takes a warrior mentality, doing whatever it takes to get through. 

"We are very close, we must not doubt [ourselves] now. We have to improve what we did not do well today, but we have everything we need to reverse the situation. You have to believe and be strong."

Manchester City produced a sensational second-half turnaround to seize control of their Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez getting the goals in a 2-1 first-leg triumph.

A pulsating contest at the Parc des Princes saw PSG take a 15th minute lead when captain Marquinhos – returning to action from a groin injury – headed in at a corner.

However, having been second best during the first half, City were vastly improved after the break, an equaliser arriving when De Bruyne's curling delivery into the penalty area drifted beyond everybody to find the net.

An 18th straight away triumph for Pep Guardiola's side was secured courtesy of a Mahrez free-kick that found a gap in the wall and, having lost control of the game, PSG then lost their cool in the closing stages, Idrissa Gueye shown a straight red for a dangerous challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.

There had been little sign of the drama to come at half-time. The hosts were deservedly ahead after Marquinhos – who had not played since scoring in a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the quarter-final first leg – had flicked in a deliciously whipped-in delivery from Angel Di Maria.

City's best chance to equalise before the break came when the hosts gifted them possession, but Phil Foden was only able to shoot straight at Keylor Navas when afforded a clear sight of the target.

Yet Pep Guardiola's side penned PSG in to change the complexion of the tie completely. They had a 65.1 per cent share of possession after the interval, leading to them getting two crucial away goals ahead of the return fixture next week.

De Bruyne appeared to be aiming for a team-mate but ended up scoring himself, though there was no doubt Mahrez meant his strike, PSG crumbling under pressure.

While there is still work to do back in Manchester, a first-ever Champions League final appearance for the club is within City's grasp thanks to an unforgettable night in Paris.

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Marquinhos and Marco Verratti are unlikely to start the second leg against Bayern Munich as Paris Saint-Germain look to reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Verratti, along with fellow Italy international Alessandro Florenzi, missed the first meeting between the teams in Munich after testing positive for COVID-19.

However, the duo have received the all-clear and are back in training ahead of the return fixture in the French capital, with PSG holding a 3-2 advantage at the halfway stage in the tie.

Pochettino told the media on Monday he is yet to decide on his line-up, with Marquinhos remaining a doubt due to a thigh injury.

"We haven't decided the team for tomorrow yet, but it will be difficult for Verratti to start," the PSG boss said in his pre-game news conference. "Florenzi will be assessed further tomorrow."

On Marquinhos' status, he added: "We will see how he feels tomorrow. In theory, he could be involved in the squad, so we will see.

"I don't think he will be able to start, certainly, but he may be able to be on the bench. We will decide that on Wednesday."

PSG knocked out Barcelona in the previous round 5-2 on aggregate, though were held to a 1-1 draw at home in the second leg following a resounding triumph at Camp Nou.

Pochettino is well aware that the tie with Bayern – who he made clear are the best team in the world – is much tighter, meaning his players must find the right balance between retaining their slender advantage and also posing problems in attack for their opponents.

"At home to Barcelona, particularly in the first half, we found it very hard to keep the ball, even with Verratti and Leandro Paredes in the team," Pochettino said.

"It is not about individual names but collective attitude. We have to have a different approach from the Barcelona game while understanding that we don't just need to defend but also to keep the ball to attack and hurt the opposition.

"This is the challenge that lies ahead, and once again we have a positive first-leg result to build on."

PSG have won all four of their previous games in which they have hosted the German side in European competition, while only three of the previous 50 teams to lose the first leg at home in a Champions League knockout tie have managed to progress.

Pochettino, though, is well aware of the size of the task the hosts face against the defending champions, with Bayern having gone 16 games unbeaten in the competition under Hansi Flick prior to the loss on home soil last week.

"The Barcelona game is the past, Bayern are the best team in the world at the moment so they will certainly make it difficult for us," the former Tottenham head coach said.

"We need the strength and ability to manage those moments, just as we did in the first leg in Munich.

"They are world champions who have won six trophies in recent months. We are the pretenders and contenders to win the trophy. We have to consider all the circumstances surrounding the tie.

"If we get through to the semi-finals, it will be a big achievement for the club. PSG want to win every competition we are involved in, but beating Bayern Munich, in itself, would be a big feat."

Mauricio Pochettino believes his fresh perspective means Paris Saint-Germain's latest Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich is not a revenge mission.

Bayern beat PSG 1-0 in last season's final, Paris-born Kingsley Coman getting the only goal in Lisbon.

Since then Pochettino has succeeded Thomas Tuchel as head coach of the capital club and, as such, he views Wednesday's quarter-final first-leg encounter at the Allianz Arena with a certain level of detachment.

"No, it's not a benchmark match for us," Pochettino told a pre-match news conference. "We weren't there with my staff, we were just spectators. In addition, it's over two matches that it's going to be played, the context is different.

"Sporting revenge still exists, but for us it's more of a challenge to beat such a strong team, maybe the best in the world."

Even their most ardent supporters would struggle to apply such a label to PSG at present after a 1-0 weekend loss to leaders Lille left them facing an uphill battle to retain their Ligue 1 title.

Neymar, sent off during that frustrating Parc des Princes encounter, is available to line up alongside Kylian Mbappe once more and the star forwards will hope to exploit Bayern's high line to a greater extent than they managed in last August's showpiece.

PSG's capacity to create for Neymar and Mbappe will be compromised by Marco Verratti's absence after the Italy midfielder returned a second postiive COVID-19 test this season.

"Each team has its characteristics, Bayern are a well-organised team with a high defensive line," Pochettino said.

"Their attacking players can throw opponents off balance and make a difference. It's up to us to make sure we don't lose the ball in dangerous areas."

Bayern's forward line will lack their injured talisman Robert Lewandowski, while Serge Gnabry is also set to miss the tie after testing positive for coronavirus.

There will still be plenty of problems to nullify for Marquinhos and his defensive colleagues, although the PSG captain aligned himself with Pochettino despite having experienced the heartbreak in Lisbon first hand.

"There is no revenge compared to last season, it is another context, each game has its story," he said.

"If some people want to use that to motivate them, why not?

"The finals are played on small details, you have to take the few chances you have. Tomorrow it will be the same.

"They too know that they will have to take their chances. Everyone is aware that it will be played on details."

Mauricio Pochettino hopes Neymar can show his talents against Bayern Munich on Wednesday after the Brazilian was sent off on his return to the Paris Saint-Germain starting XI.

Having appeared for 20 minutes as a substitute at Lyon ahead of the international break, Neymar started for the first time since February's Coupe de France trip to Caen when PSG hosted Lille on Saturday.

But the top-of-the-table Ligue 1 clash turned sour for the superstar as he was controversially dismissed in the closing stages of a 1-0 defeat.

Neymar, who tried to retrieve the ball from Lille defender Tiago Djalo before both players were sent off, has earned four red cards since his Ligue 1 debut in August 2017, a tally only topped in this time by Nantes midfielder Andrei Girotto.

The forward's latest misdemeanour is set to keep him out of league action as PSG aim to overturn the three-point advantage Lille secured at the weekend.

But Neymar can for now channel his energy into avenging last season's Champions League final defeat to Bayern when PSG face the reigning European and world champions in a two-legged quarter-final.

The world's most expensive footballer has played only six knockout games in the competition since moving to PSG, although he was ever-present in the five during last season's run.

Now, he is fit again and ready to take on Bayern on Wednesday with coach Pochettino's backing.

"After six weeks, he was very excited to start a game," Pochettino told a news conference on Tuesday, explaining Neymar's red card.

"He's an emotional player, he likes to play, he likes to fight, he's a competitive player. He didn't deserve this red - he was sent off for various reasons - but he knows he has to channel himself.

"I hope that tomorrow everything will be fine, that we can play a very good game, and that the whole team will get the performance we hope for."

Compatriot and captain Marquinhos also came to Neymar's defence.

"I've known Ney for years," he said. "We know he's a very competitive player. If you look at the action, he got a foul, he came to get the ball, he showed a lot of commitment.

"He's a great player, he's very motivated; what happened happened. Tomorrow we need great players to make a great game.

"We're not going over history again. Tomorrow is the Champions League, we learn from our mistakes and we think about what we have to do tomorrow."

Yet PSG, who beat Barcelona in the previous round, are determined not to rely on Neymar (13 goals this season) and Kylian Mbappe (30) alone against Bayern.

"I always preferred to talk about the collective, especially before these kind of games," Marquinhos said.

"When we see our performance in Barcelona, the collective was really strong; we saw it before the individualities.

"If everyone plays their part on the field with the right mindset, the individuals will then get away with it.

"I prefer to put the team forward, we can't always talk about specific cases."

Pochettino added: "We focus a lot on Mbappe and Neymar, but the 11 players who will start tomorrow will have the responsibility to do everything to help us get the win."

The PSG coach will at least be able to call on his superstar duo while Robert Lewandowski (knee) and Serge Gnabry (coronavirus) are out for Bayern.

Lewandowski and Gnabry shared six goals on the only previous occasion Pochettino took on Bayern, then as Tottenham manager on the end of a 7-2 humbling.

"Bayern's strength is its collective, its squad," Pochettino said. "When you win the Champions League and the Club World Cup, you have a very good group, not just 11 successful players.

"We are talking about Lewandowski and Gnabry, who are very good players, but we also have absentees like [Mauro] Icardi and [Marco] Verratti.

"That being said, for sure, for them, these are absences that weigh heavily."

Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with the spirit his Paris Saint-Germain team showed to defeat Lille in the Coupe de France after a difficult few days.

PSG were 3-0 winners against the Ligue 1 leaders as they were in action for the first time since a weekend defeat to Nantes that was disrupted by burglaries at the family homes of Angel Di Maria and Marquinhos.

Di Maria was substituted in that loss to attend to the matter, but both players were in the XI as goals from Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe secured a quarter-final berth on Wednesday.

It was not an entirely convincing PSG display, as Lille had 18 shots to their 11 and Keylor Navas was required to save a penalty for the third time this season.

Pochettino was only interested in praise for his players and their families, however.

"Of course I'm so happy with the performance and the spirit of the team," the coach told the club's official channel.

"They deserve massive credit and I want to congratulate them but most of all the families because the last few days were very tough for everyone.

"We all feel what happened to Marqui and Angel. It really touched the group and that's why I want to congratulate the team, the players and the families suffering around them.

"I'm so happy. I think we fully deserved to go through to the quarter-finals and, in this difficult circumstance, I'm happy for the 3-0."

Di Maria had two shots and created a single chance, while Marquinhos contributed four tackles, five clearances and a block.

Navas was the star of the show, though, denying Yusuf Yazici from 12 yards with 12 minutes remaining.

Only Rui Silva and Oliver Baumann (both four) have kept out more penalties than Navas in all competitions this season among goalkeepers across Europe's 'top five' leagues.

"He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world," Pochettino said of Navas, who finished with five saves in all. "His level is incredible."

Mauricio Pochettino described Keylor Navas as one of the world's best goalkeepers after he helped Paris Saint-Germain past Barcelona in the Champions League.

A 1-1 draw in Paris on Wednesday sealed PSG's progress to the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory over the Catalans.

Barca were much improved compared to their first-leg display and were the dominant force in the first half in particular, firing in 16 shots, the most PSG have faced at home in the first 45 minutes of a game all season.

Lionel Messi's stunning goal cancelled out a Kylian Mbappe penalty and the Argentina star had the chance to make it 2-1 before half-time only for Navas to keep out his spot-kick.

That was one of nine saves made by the former Real Madrid keeper, whose efforts ensured Barca's threat of a comeback had largely dissipated by the final quarter of the match.

Navas' display was a timely reminder of his qualities following a report in England suggesting Pochettino is interested in signing Manchester United's David de Gea for next season.

The PSG boss appears to be perfectly happy with the number one he has at his disposal.

"Keylor had a huge game," he told RMC Sport. "We can say his actions show his quality. He just proves that he's at the highest level in the world.

"I think we all saw him tonight."

Defender Marquinhos was also full of praise for Navas for largely keeping Barca at bay in the first half, in which the visitors had 73 per cent of the ball.

"It was a tough match. We knew the context was going to be different compared to the first leg," he said.

"Since that defeat, Barca put together better matches. They had the courage to press very high and put us in difficulty to get the ball out.

"There are good and bad times in football. In a match, you have to know how to hold on. We were able to do that, with the help of our great goalkeeper, who made the difference.

"We were better in the second half and we deserved to go through."

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."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.