Zidane and Ramos wary of Di Maria in Neymar's absence

Paris Saint-Germain being without Neymar is a boost for Real Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane and Sergio Ramos are still wary of Angel Di Maria.

PSG star Angel Di Maria   -  AFP

Zinedine Zidane and Sergio Ramos dismissed the importance of Neymar's absence for Paris Saint-Germain, highlighting the threat of former Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria, who is set to replace the Brazilian in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Madrid travel to Paris with a 3-1 advantage from the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in their round-of-16 clash.

They also received a boost last week when it became apparent Brazil star Neymar will miss out after fracturing his foot in a Ligue 1 match.

But Zidane and captain Ramos claimed that will not make a huge difference, as they both pointed out Di Maria, who played for Madrid between 2010 and 2014, is expected to be the one to benefit from Neymar's absence.

When asked about the importance of Neymar's injury, Ramos told reporters in Paris: "He's a different player, Neymar.

"There are very few like him on the world stage. Whoever he has played for has benefited. We've played against him for Barca and know him, but Di Maria is a great player and he can replace him.

"I think Di Maria is a player who defends better, works hard too and gets forward. We've got to look at their strengths and I think we've a squad good enough to match them."

Zidane added: "Some things change, some don't. He [Di Maria]'s an exceptional footballer, we know who he is.

"He played very well for this club, but whoever comes in [for Neymar] will be highly motivated and hoping to put in a good performance.

"He has a great history here at Real Madrid. He can play anywhere across the front and covers a lot of ground.

"He has a good shot and is very quick. We're going to try and play our game, but we know they'll ask a few questions.

"I don't think much will change. Our motivation will be the same, against a good team with very good players."

PSG have not hesitated to put pressure on referee Felix Brych before the encounter at the Parc des Princes, with sporting director Antero Henrique claiming the officiating in the first leg showed a "lack of respect [for] Paris and France".

But, as a tactic, it is nothing new to Zidane, who says the talking needs to be done "on the pitch".

"We're used to it," Zidane said. "We just have to focus on the game, eleven versus eleven.

"The referee will be out there to do his job and hopefully play well. We have to focus on our game plan and expect a hostile atmosphere.

"You know what it's like when teams player against Real Madrid – our talking will be on the pitch."

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