Barcelona is about to make the same mistake it made when it signed Neymar 4 years ago. And it’s painful to watch.
It’s finally over (for the most part). Neymar Jr. was officially presented as a Paris Saint-Germain player as the summer’s most discussed transfer saga finally came to a close. The last two and a half weeks have seen a multitude of newspaper headlines, tweets and articles being written in discussion of his transfer: Would he do it? Surely he wouldn’t give up everything he had to go to a ‘smaller’ club? Was it all about the money? We’ve now had a little bit of time to absorb all the happenings and make up our own mind about the answers to these questions and a lot of the others doing the rounds on social media. The predicament this writer is in right now, however, is that being a fan of both the player and the club, it’s not those questions that are bothering him.
Neymar Jr., since his very first day as an FC Barcelona player, has been labelled as the man to lead the Catalan club when it’s time for the greatest player to ever grace the game, Lionel Messi, to hang up his boots. Skill-wise, it’s been crystal clear that Neymar has what it takes to be crowned as the world’s best. The only question has always been when because it’s not up to Neymar as much as it is to Messi. Neymar’s time will come when age catches up with the Argentine, not sooner.
We have now arrived at the climax of the 2016/2017 season. At this point, it is not about getting your money’s worth of entertainment value. It is strictly about results. Results, results, results- results. It’s all that matters. From this point on, Luis Enrique and his men take each game as a final, as each victory goes a long way in the bigger picture. And because this was a win secured away from home, regardless of the opposition, Lucho’s men must take pride that they secured the result, and ensured maximum points were taken.
To put what we have all just witnessed into words will be impossible. But I will do my best.
A match between Barcelona and the opposition from the north is always sure to be a good one. With Paco Alcácer starting in place of Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi and Neymar up front, the midfield was made up of André Gomes, Arda Turan, and Rafinha. The defense included Aleix Vidal, Gerard Piqué, Samuel Umtiti and Jeremy Mathieu. With Marc-André ter Stegen in goal, the match was off.
And so 2017 has begun. What was meant to be a promising start to the season has now become a rather interesting start to the season. Let us make one thing very clear: this match is not, and was not, doomsday. The truth is, there is still a second leg to be played at Camp Nou, where an MSN explosion is likely. However, this match exposed weaknesses and chinks in Luis Enrique’s armour that have existed since last season’s UEFA Champions League Quarter Final.
Athletic Club was ravenous in the first half and thrashed an uninspired FC Barcelona two to one in the first leg of their round of 16 Copa Del Rey matchup. Barcelona will cry foul after the match which saw more than one unique decision from referee Fernandez Borbalan. Lionel Messi netted a valuable away free kick goal but was mostly ineffective in a match which Neymar was the sole bright spot.
FC Barcelona failed to impress at home and to keep pace with Real Madrid. On a night where the club sorely missed Lionel Messi, Barcelona were only able to tie a very defensive Malaga. Ten men behind the ball for Malaga meant Barcelona’s offense was severely limited to wide play and the individual magic of Neymar.