Despite being hammered by critics for his display in PSG’s defeat against Real Madrid, Neymar was not all that bad at the Santiago Bernabeu
The technical quality of Marcelo once again stood apart as he pulled a man of the match performance to hand Real Madrid a precious 3-1 victory over Paris Saint Germain.
The veteran is receiving the praise that his compatriot Neymar was expected to get, but his lack of efficiency in the final third, in a match where Cristiano Ronaldo was able to bang-in the two all-important goals, meant that the Brazilian would naturally receive a big wave of criticism. However, the 26-year-old was nowhere near as bad as he is being portrayed.
While Neymar made too many mistakes with his decision-making and final touch, the forward was a constant threat for the Real Madrid defense throughout the game, proving to be very difficult to contain, with Nacho often needing the help of Casemiro and Luka Modric in an attempt to reduce the danger of the Brazilian magician. Neymar’s tenacity and movement inside the penalty box, meant that Kylian Mbappé’s cross would force Nacho into a desperate clearance in an attempt to get to the ball first, as Adrien Rabiot was left face-to-face with Keylor Navas.
Neymar created three goal-scoring chances and tested Navas on several occasions, but his shots often lacked power. The Brazilian is rightly being blamed for trying to win the game on his own instead of combining with his teammates in the final third in passing plays, but it should not be forgotten that Neymar still put in a decent overall performance.
The Brazilian’s failure to live up to the expectations is mostly down to missing a goal-scoring chance from Julian Draxler’s cross in the final few moments of the game, rather than not doing anything during the ninety minutes. In fact, had Neymar tapped that ball into the back of the net, he could have easily been considered one of the best performers in the match.
Meanwhile, Marcelo continues to prove why he is on another plain when it comes to competitors for the left-back role over the last few years. He may not be the best defensively, for that matter, not even top five. But he is by far the best going forward, and it is a sacrifice that Real Madrid and Brazil’s national team are both willing to take. The experienced vice-captain entertained the Santiago Bernabéu crowed with his skills throughout the whole match, before guiding an enormous passing play with Marco Asensio and Toni Kroos, as he scored the third goal which pretty much gives the Spaniards a clear edge over Paris Saint Germain.
The tie is not yet over, but it is very difficult to bet against Real Madrid’s experience at the moment. However, one thing is for sure. Neymar will do his best to pull out a major performance, the way he did last season for Barcelona in the return leg against the team he currently represents. It is the moment of truth for the supporters to discover whether the Parc des Princes is truly the fortress the French press has claimed it to be and if Neymar is worth the enormous investment.