PSG: Neymar’s moment of reckoning in the Champions League

However, when it comes to the bright lights of the biggest stage in European football – Champions League – he is trapped in an eternal cycle of repetition.
BUT one-time winneryes, but for some he was skillfully assisted by his highly experienced South American colleagues – Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez – in the once famous “MSN” triumvirate in Barcelona.
On the twice The misfortune undermined the chances of the Brazilian wunderkind to grab an opponent by the scruff in the red and blue colors of Paris Saint-Germain.

So here we are in 2020. Is it successful the third time? Moment of truth for Neymar?

There are now three games between the “Red Pill” of European enlightenment and the “Blue Pill” from another footnote on the 28-year-old’s Wikipedia page.

“This is the year he can really redeem himself. […] These three games can change everything […] I don’t believe he will have another opportunity like this,” says Brazilian football journalist Fernando Callas. CNN Sports.

“The biggest mistake in sports history”

Ever since PSG’s Qatari investors planted their flag on the cobbled streets of Paris in June 2011, they have made no secret of their ultimate goal of dominating the continent.

Domestically, it was an era of unrelenting dominance. Seven major league titles and five French cups, including four trebles in six seasons.

But if Europe is a combination lock, they are endlessly looking for a locksmith with an elusive key. Seven times they unsuccessfully tried to break the complex code – each failure was more painful and bitter than the previous one.

“A specific schedule has been set and once you go beyond that schedule, every season it goes on and it seems like PSG is moving further and further away, so the burden of history is falling on us,” explains French football expert Jonathan Johnson.

World record signing Neymar from Barcelona in August 2017 – for a still mind-boggling $263 million the knight in shining armor intended to say.

No longer a backing vocalist for Messi and Suarez, but a leading artist with a license to wave and become the best in the world.

For some it was a game changer; for Callas, it remains “the biggest mistake in the history of the sport”.

Love-hate relationship

Reflecting last week on the three-year anniversary of his move, the striker wrote that “(they) came with a lot of knowledge. I’ve lived through times of joy and some difficult times.”

His connection with supporters in the city of love has gone through the gamut of relationship statuses on Facebook, from “Married” to “Divorced” to “It’s complicated.”

And all this against the backdrop of the charm of a former lover from Catalonia.

BUT protracted, but end up failing last summer’s serenade return the Brazilian to the Camp Nou brought tensions to a boil in Paris.

The love-hate dynamic around the polarizing figure was perhaps best embodied in the superstar’s appearance in League One in the 2019-20 season.

Booted relentlessly for 90 minutes before delivering a magnificent bike kick just before death. – half of the skeptics are delighted; the other half is furious.

Callas paints a picture of jurors divided along generational lines in Brazil: young challengers who love “the image, the smile, the tattoos” contrast with the old guard who “really care about him.”

The Cold War in Paris has since thawed, along with the realization that a return to the future is not yet an immediate prospect.

“He has shown on and off the field that he is committed to the project. […] He really has to take on the challenge of being a PSG player and achieve something, especially in the Champions League in Paris,” says Johnson.

While the field may have opened a new page, questions remain outside.

Ups and downs: The Brazilian's relationship with the loyal PSG has oscillated between periods of love and hate

Will the boy become a man?

Neymar’s personal life has at times been a thrilling telenovela filled with intrigue and backed by a tight-knit environment.

He was cleared of misdemeanor charges last year after Brazilian model accuses ex-Brazil captain of rape and assault.
This year he was forced to miss the championship match due to injury. two days after a lavish birthday party in a Parisian nightclub.

Those who want him to succeed despair: will the boy ever become a man?

“In Brazil we have an expression that says he (Neymar) is an endless promise. […] That he is “Menino Neymar” (“Baby Neymar”) – He is not a boy. […] It must be real […] He needs to grow up,” says Callas, who has followed the Brazilian’s trials and tribulations on and off the pitch.

“When he’s on the field, he delivers […] I have never, ever heard a single complaint from a coach or another player about his attitude in training, in the dressing room.”

And for all the goals, assists and trophies to date, history and biology have dealt a cruel hand to the glitter-fingered star, depriving him of the opportunity to speak his mind in the business side of European football’s elite club competition.

Shortened seasons in 2018 and 2019 due to injuries coincided with PSG’s dramatic survival at the round of 16 by hand RealMadrid as well as Manchester Unitedrespectively.

“That’s what makes the rest of this campaign so important and why he’s going to be under such scrutiny,” says Johnson.

“It’s Make or Break”

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly – and perhaps to PSG’s advantage – changed the dynamics of this year’s tournament final.

Gone are the two-match knockouts starting in the quarter-final stages, and have been replaced by one-match shootouts instead – all in the Lisbon bubble.

Without the departed sniper Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe recently retired from the gamethe word belongs to Neymar.
First the Atalanta surprise package awaits in quarterfinal; Then a potential clash with Atlético Madrid tempered in the semi-finals and then, who knows, in the winner-takes-all final.

While progress in the competition, according to Johnson, “will really give the (Qatari) project the kick-start it needs after years of huge disappointment,” for Kallas, this month could be the start of a career-defining two years for the man at the center of the story.

The Brazilian’s contract expires in 2022. and the World Cup in Qatar the same year, which will probably be his last in the Brazilian jersey, it’s just “make it or break it”.

“We always say, ‘This is going to be a year. No, it will be a year. No, it will be a year.” […] He is 28 years old, he should be at the peak of his career, but he is not. […] This is his last chance.”

The telenovela had its own twists and turns, moments of madness and bursts of brilliance. Now the protagonist must write the script for the revealing ending.