With the world watching on, Neymar finally produced a big-game performance for PSG against Liverpool – but the job is only half-done for the Brazilian
Neymar has suffered heavy criticism ever since his stunning departure from Barcelona in the summer of 2017, mainly for failing to fulfill his main task – lead Paris Saint Germain in the UEFA Champions League. The criticism doubled following his poor Santiago Bernabéu display against Real Madrid last season in what ended up being an early knock-out for PSG.
With the French-capital side facing the risk of elimination from the Champions League’s group stage, this week, the Brazilian had to step up and inspire PSG to a convincing victory against Liverpool, to try to prove once again why he is still one of the world’s very best players.
PSG was in third place before the fifth Matchday of the Champions League, and a failure against Liverpool could have ultimately led to the team’s elimination from the competition. Neymar had to pull out one of his best performances in a Paris Saint Germain shirt, as he successfully managed to outplay the English giants.
Neymar has finally recovered the pace and agility that he was deprived of, in Russia, as he had still been recovering from injury. The Brazilian is once again comfortable at going past opponents in the blink of an eye. Neymar is as deadly as he has ever been, in this regard.
The difference this season is that German tactician Thomas Tuchel is making his star player operate in a more central position, with a creative role. Everything at PSG passes through Neymar. The forward is the be all and end all of this team, meaning that in the event PSG go and achieve an impressive campaign this season, he would be regarded as the technical leader and the main figure of this side. This was exactly why the Brazilian had reportedly asked to leave Barcelona, as he believed it was time for him to guide his own team to Champions League triumph.
On the other hand, Neymar is still being targeted by the English media for what they refer to as his never-ending diving antics. Liverpool’s technical staff implied that the Brazilian spent the whole game on the ground, that he falls down too easily. The thing is that Neymar is simply not physically strong enough to suffer as many challenges throughout a game, and stay on his feet. His center of gravity isn’t as low as that of, say, Eden Hazard or Lionel Messi – and this will never change.
Why Neymar needs to be more like Ronaldo
While it’s true that Neymar sometimes does it on purpose, or makes the best out of challenges, it does not hinder his quality as a footballer, nor the fact that if it wasn’t for him, PSG would most probably be out of the competition by now.
What Neymar can do is to work on evolving his playing style, by trying to release the ball earlier to avoid unnecessary challenges that would result in suffering more tackles, with a higher risk of injury. In this regard, Cristiano Ronaldo would be a good example to follow. Specifically, the way that he adapted with the changes in his body over the past few years, and managed to evolve his style to stay at the top level. Sooner or later, Neymar will have to do that.
The Seleção star is playing his best football, but top players are judged on their achievements rather than performances. If Neymar wants his season to be considered successful, the least he needs to achieve is to guide PSG to the semi-finals of Europe’s greatest club competition.