THE LIBERO

Neymar’s goal against Rennes was absolute footballing perfection

This week's Libero column looks at Neymar's goal for PSG against Rennes and why it was pure footballing perfection

Okay, so I’m a bit behind on Neymar’s goal in PSG’s 6-1 win against Rennes on Sunday.

Like most people I saw the clip of Kylian Mbappe setting the ball back to Neymar with the cheek of someone running around the playground with their backpack on.

But it wasn’t until I saw the whole goal that I fully appreciated quite how good it was.


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Mbappe logic

Let’s start with the way PSG defended the corner.

A dangerous cross missed Adrien Rabiot’s head, ricocheted off Thiago Silva and fell at the feet of Dani Alves.

Most players standing in their own six-yard box facing goal would have put their foot through the ball, but not Alves.

He played a four yard pass to relieve the pressure and set PSG on their way. Don’t underestimate the bottle needed to take a breath and pass when everyone around you is screaming ‘GET RID’.

Panic? What panic

Aaand… they’re off

With pinball speed the ball was played into Angel Di Maria at the edge of the box, at which point there was another beautifully subtle touch.

The Argentinian opened up his body to lure the Rennes defender in, only to spin the ball past him like Shane Warne bowling at The Gabba.

PSG were up and running.

Now you see me…

Are you Shane Warne in disguise?

Steve Smith would have struggled to play that

No flowing PSG move would be complete without Marco Verratti’s input.

The Italian maestro leaned back and effortlessly struck a volleyed pass into the path of Neymar, ensuring there was just enough backspin on the ball to keep it in play.

Squint and you’d think you were watching Xabi Alonso.

Get the man a deck chair

Probably should have marked him a bit tighter

And then came the pièce de résistance.

There were shades of Gareth Bale’s Copa del Rey winning goal against Barcelona in the way Neymar was forced off the pitch in keeping the ball in play.

Having shown raw pace it was then time for cold calculation from Neymar, a player often dismissed as more show pony than Thoroughbred.

Taking the long route home

Not a position any defender wants to find themselves in

With a feint he cut inside, before releasing Di Maria with a no-look pass.

Without looking up Di Maria cut the ball square to Mbappe, who in turn touched back to Neymar to slot into an open goal.

Don’t watch the eyes

Slightly disappointed this wasn’t a rabona

To me, to you

Goal time

It took 11 touches in 15 seconds for the ball to go from PSG’s six-yard box to the back of Rennes’ net.

There will be more eye-catching strikes from PSG’s expensively assembled cast but I highly doubt there will be a better team goal.

Counter-attacking perfection from France’s Harlem Globetrotters.


More bitesize news from around the world:

Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa predicted he’d be scoring goals for the club before he could even run properly.

Asked who would take over the goalscoring burden from Gabriel Batistuta a young Chiesa initally said ‘Francesco Toldo’.

When reminded that Toldo was a goalkeeper, Chiesa then went for himself. Spot on.

Don’t expect any defensive signings from Arsene Wenger this month.

The Arsenal boss was quizzed about the potential arrival of Jonny Evans, but quickly dismissed the idea.

Why? He’s got a young Greek lad who ‘looked good’ in training. Arsenal Fan TV rant incoming.

On a week that Philippe Coutinho’s Barcelona arrival brought Brazilian exports into focus, it’s worth taking a second to think about Gabriel Barbosa.

The forward followed Neymar out of the Santos academy and much was expected when he moved to Inter Milan in 2016.

Unfortunately he’s just been awarded the Bidone d’Oro award for the most disappointing player in Serie A.

Don’t feel too bad though, Gabigol. Rivaldo, Adriano and Christian Vieri have all been honoured with the same title in the past.

Getty - Contributor
The classic no.96

Papu Gomez is a maverick.

The Atlanta attacking midfielder took to the pitch against Roma wearing the captain’s armband, as always.

Not just any armband though. This one featured his daughter and Peppa Pig. Lovely stuff. Although I doubt Roy Keane would approve.

Can’t imagine Roy Keane wearing that

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