With the heavily anticipated first leg in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League between PSG and Real Madrid, there is a star among the two powerhouses whom is still eager to show the rest of Europe what he is capable of, this time with his own team.
Neymar Da Silva Santos Jr. hailing from the Mogi das Cruzes neighborhood of Sao Paulo Brazil, will be without Messi for the first time in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
This is going to be the biggest game of the 2017-18 campaign to date for each team. Futbol fans in Spain and France alike are filled with excitement, optimism, and even a little worry as pride is on the line in this classic battle between new money vs. old money.
After Neymar’s world record 222-million-euro transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain, many people questioned the motives of the Brazilian international stating that Ligue 1 is a weaker league than La Liga. Additionally, many have even questioned why Neymar would not want to play next to one of the best in the world, Lionel Messi. He wants to make history with Paris Saint Germain and why fault him for that? Even Neymar’s own club and international teammate, Dani Alves, recently spoke to the media about the difficulties of individual success playing under someone as talented as Lionel Messi.
Since his move to the city of lights, Neymar has had a sensational start to the season being directly involved in 29 goals (18 goals, 11 assists) in Ligue 1. Regarding the UEFA Champions League, he has 6 goals in games with 3 assists. Additionally, he has just reached a milestone, scoring his 350th career goal with a stunning free kick against Lille in Ligue 1.
Neymar does have help in his teammates, specifically the likes of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe. Cavani has also been in sensational form under the radar recently becoming PSG’s all-time leading goal scorer, breaking Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 156 goal record.
Despite the impressive stats attached to his name, it is safe to say his season would be deemed a failure if Champions League Success is not achieved – i.e. getting passed the quarter finals.
PSG also has their fair share of weaknesses going into the game against the two-time defending champions. With Thiago Motta injured, finding a defensive midfielder as a replacement will be a bit of an experiment seeing as though Giovanni Lo Celso and Marco Verratti are both offensive minded and it is not Adrien Rabiot’s ideal position.
PSG has also played in a large volume of matches with Ligue 1, Coupe de la Ligue, and Coupe de France. Fatigue may play a big role in this upcoming match.
Ultimately, PSG still looks strong across all aspects of the game but cannot afford to be complacent when playing against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday evening.
Real Madrid is going into this game on a high note, and despite many stating that Cristiano Ronaldo is on a decline he has scored 23 goals this season in his first 28 appearances which is more than he did in the 2016-17 campaign (21) and he has played fewer minutes (2344 v 2493).
The stakes are high but the greatest athletes dream of these situations and usually handle the pressure with grace.
Neymar was easily the Man of the Match in Barcelona’s 6-1 victory against PSG and received little credit at the time. We are all waiting to see if he will be able to have similar performances when he is the No. 10 of his club.
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