Recordtransfer Neymar will be against Real Madrid, topaffiche in the eighth finals of the Champions League, the last doubters over the line have to draw. Sport/Voetbalmagazine looks forward with Daniel Riolo, celebrated French voetbalcommentator and PSG-connoisseur.
Daniel Riolo is one of the most feared and at the same time valued voetbalanalisten in France. Author of several books, including L’histoire de Paris Saint-Germain, avid blogger and opiniemaker with a own program on RMC Radio, but most of all, knower of everything PSG. How to evaluate the first six months of Neymar in Paris?
“The first matches showed Neymar his potential,” judge Riolo. “He delivers efficiency and spectacle. He can do anything. Provocative but brilliant. The problem is that that little says because PSG are not out in Ligue 1 so far above that you may find it difficult to estimate what that performance is worth. Neymar is not passed to the Ligue 1 to win, that they can without him. The real measure of value is the Champions League. In this perspective, are the matches against Real Madrid is crucial.
‘Last season was the elimination by Barcelona a great disappointment, especially since that came after that phenomenal 4-0 in the first leg. The best PSG that we have ever seen… and that was without Neymar, hein! The team went into the second leg, mentally, not by a lack of quality.
“The question is whether Neymar that character can add to this team. For that kind of race is he taken, because in the Ligue 1, they should almost never go deep. That lack of intensity breaks them acid in the CL, such as in the group stage yet again showed against Bayern Munich.’
S/VM: the degree to which there now played differently than in the period with Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Riolo: That is not to compare. First of all there was when Laurent Blanc, a other trainer, more based on possession and organisation. Under Unai Emery is more direct and verticaler football, in addition he has there now, with Neymar and Kylian Mbappé two immensely talented players that have more speed. That is pure quality for a better giro than Zlatan-Cavani-Di Maria. Offensive is PSG this season, even more efficient and dangerous on the counter-attack, sometimes it seem like the Harlem Globetrotters: Neymar can afford the ball sixty yards of the goal to retrieve and seven men to dribble.’
S/VM: Accept the team mates at PSG the hierarchy or you see signals that indicate a disrupted dressing room?
Riolo: ‘I see no signals in that direction. The amount of his transfer was so astronomical that I think it’s for everyone in the team quickly became clear who was the boss. Almost all the balls going in his direction. That the Brazilians connected will be so, and has his influence in the dressing room. Thomas Meunier is in my opinion a better right back than Dani Alves, but still plays Alves in the important matches because he is one of bosses is. That makes won’t cause unrest within the club. That may be the case, if that so-called patrons, it will fail in the Champions League. Will the criticism of their privileged situation erupt.’
Neymar: child king in Paris, are destined for Real Madrid
Read the full report on Neymar in our +zone, or in Sport/Voetbalmagazine of Wednesday 14 February.