Decisive. This has been Neymar since returning 11 days ago to wear the Paris Saint-Germain shirt 10.
Broken with PSG fans several weeks ago due to the evidenced desire to leave the club, frustrated by the French team's lack of agreement with Barcelona, Neymar had the hassle of enduring the ups and downs of his return to the side, which he had not defended since May 11.
Under contract, that's what he had left as a professional, even unwillingly: to play. Whether it would be good or bad, if it would be compromised or soft-bodied, just going along to find out.
The return of Neymar it was on the 14th, a Saturday, at home, against Strasbourg, for the French Championship.
At Princes' Park, PSG supporters were on top of the striker who cost the club € 222 million (football record), especially the most fanatical, ultra, hostile nonstop.
A very hard game, which led to a goalless draw, until, in the second half, Diallo crosses from the left and right-handed Neymar, near the penalty mark, makes a stunt and hits a beautiful left-handed pull. The ball hits the post and goes into goal by Belgian goalkeeper Sels.
Great goal. Face closed, Neymar slapped his chest, spread his arms, punched the air, hugged his colleagues. Wrapped in sourness, it took a moment for a flash of joy. PSG won 1-0.
The second match, also for the French, was outside Paris in Lyon on Sunday (22). Again the fans booing – and even throwing objects in the direction of Neymar – again a balanced confrontation, although PSG have more scoring opportunities than the Brazilian-directed rival. Sylvinho.
0 – 0 was the score after 41 minutes. PSG attack. Neymar plays for Verratti on the left and sets off for the area. The Italian passes low to Di María at half moon. The Argentine serves Neymar first, scoring closely for Dutchman Tete.
Within two seconds, what happens?
Neymar trims the ball with his left foot, with his right hand dribbling Tete, also fooling the Andersen Dane, and before Tousart or Dubois, too, could do something, firm, left-handed, out of range. Portuguese goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Great goal. At the celebration, Neymar opened his arms, punched the air and looked less bitter than eight days earlier. The smile even came easier, amid the party and the greetings of the companions. PSG won 1-0.
Since arriving in Europe, Neymar had never been so decisive in such a short break.
This is the first time he has been directly responsible for winning his team, either Barcelona (who defended from 2013 to 2017) or PSG in consecutive matches.
For the Spanish club and the French club in total, Neymar has played 246 games in official competitions. Scored 158 goals.
Of those 158, only 13 were “decisive”.
For decisive goal (s), which consequently makes the player who scored him decisive, I consider:
- the one who gives the team victory, before the game is tied (for example, 1 to 1 ends 2 to 1);
- the one who makes the match ends in a draw, before the team is losing (for example, 0 to 1 ends 1 to 1);
- In the case of a win in which the opponent does not score, all goals scored by the same athlete (for example, in a 2-0, both goals were scored by the same player, ie the team only won thanks to his goals);
- in the case of a win in which the opponent scores (s), all those scored after the score is a draw, or defeat by the same athlete (for example, with the score at 1 to 1, the same player scores the second). and the third goal in the 3-1 win, or, with the score at 1-2, the same player scores the 3-2 turn.
Neymar, with these two recent goals, has tripled the number of games in which he was decisive for PSG.
Earlier, it had been a one-time penalty when he scored a penalty draw against Nice in April this year (1-1) 15 minutes into the second half.
Against Strasbourg and Lyon, 'decisive being' gained a greater weight because the goals came out towards the end of the match, when excitement and tension in both players and fans are usually at their peak in indefinite duels.
For Barcelona, Neymar's ten decisive goals – four in the Spanish Championship, three in the Champions League, two in the Copa del Rey and one in the Spanish Super Cup, in a total of eight matches – came out less than the last two by PSG, and five of them (half) were scored in the first half.
Neymar smiles at midfielder Gueye (27) as he scores PSG victory over Lyon in the French Championship (Jeff Pachoud – 22.set.2019 / AFP)
It is a happy coincidence for Neymar to record these two decisive goals in such a short time.
Deciding a game is not common. Deciding near the end of the game is even less common. Deciding two games in a row with the referee's final whistle approaching is undoubtedly very rare.
Neymar returns to the field this Wednesday (25), in Paris, against the Reims.
If chance leads you to be decisive for the third consecutive match in the final minutes, a thorough study will be needed to find out if it is unheard of in first-tier football.
In time: PSG has, besides Neymar, now 27 years old, two more very high level strikers, the Uruguayan Cavani (32 years old) and French Mbappe (20 years). Considering the same period of performance of Neymar in the club (second half of 2017 so far), they were decisive in more or less games than the Brazilian star? In more, both. While Neymar has on his resume in this regard the matches against Nice, Strasbourg and Lyon, both Cavani and Mbappé accumulate five games each. The Frenchman led PSG to victory in five clashes, and the Uruguayan won the club in two matches and secured a draw in three.