Away from the pitch, they are also very close, as Ganso is godfather to Neymar’s son while Neymar was a witness at the playmaker’s wedding.
Consequently, it is a clash that Ganso is relishing, despite his side going into the game as massive underdogs.
“Last season, he grew, truly,” Ganso told L’Equipe of his friend’s debut campaign in France, which was ended prematurely by injury. “Now he’s playing more in the centre, I think that every time he’s getting better.”
While Neymar remains at a high technical level, it is mentally that Ganso sees the biggest difference in the 26-year-old.
“He’s matured a lot, primarily,” he replied when asked why Neymar has improved. “Before, he’d primarily be a dribbler, trying to beat players with great skills. He was already scoring a lot, but tactically he didn’t always think what was to be done correctly.”
Neymar was the subject to criticism during the World Cup, partly for his disappointing overall display and partly for his play acting. His friend, however, believes he has recovered from that.
“I didn’t manage to speak to him after the World Cup, but you have to remember he went three months without playing,” he said. “To come back from injury and go right into a World Cup isn’t easy. You lack confidence, you’re afraid of getting hurt.
“But the good thing is that he’s recovered from it and today is excellent.”
Ganso has some pre-match advice for his former team-mate.
“I might text him and suggest that he stays at home and rests – there’s a Champions League game next week!” he joked. “Let him rest, relax at home and think of the Champions League!”