The Brazilian, who got off the bus dancing, missed a heads-up against Neuer and did not appear when his team needed him most
In his presentation with PSG, Neymar left the locker room under intense white smoke, with the Parc des Princes almost full and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the man who had paid 222 million euros for him, by his side. He touched the grass and raised his hands to the sky of Paris while his father, key in the biggest operation in the history of football, applauded in the box.
Neymar had left Barcelona after four seasons, in a course in which the Catalan club finished second in the League and was eliminated in the Champions League quarterfinals. The 25-year-old Brazilian understood that his cycle in Spain had ended and that if he wanted to ascend to the last steps of the world football aristocracy he had to do so away from Leo Messi. He did so.
“I came here to make history,” he said in Portuguese in front of a French fan turned over to his new star. He’s had three seasons of injury, disappointment, and controversy before reaching D-Day and H-Hour. He, carefree as always, got off the bus dancing and joking to his first Champions League final as a big star. Without Messi and without the Barça shirt. And there, in Da Luz, Neymar did not break the doors of the throne. It was not what he has been warning all the course and what he has dropped with excellent performances in this strange final phase.
The Brazilian had it in the 17th minute but met Neuer’s foot, like Di María, who sent it high in the 23rd, like Mbappé, who finished loose from the penalty spot in the 44th … They were the trio of Astros, the trident of 477 million euros: 222 the Brazilian, 180 the French and 75 the Argentine. Three footballers called to decide a final. And they got tails.
Neymar wanted his first orejona sitting on Messi’s throne, Mbappé added the Champions League and the World Cup at only 21 years old and think, perhaps now, of Madrid; and Di María gets his little revenge, 10 years after being one of the heroes of La Décima, against a Madrid that he did not want to leave and that has won four European Cups while El Fideo was shipwrecked at Manchester United and in Paris.
The three, with Kylian on the left and the Brazilian 10 as a false nine, did damage in the first half to a Bayern suffocated by the speed of the French attack. Ander Herrera gave them two goal assists while Paredes and Marquinhos swept the midfield, but they were not successful, Bayern executed them and none, not even Neymar on the most desired day, had the football, the legs, and the head to recover from the goal of Coman. The Brazilian star collapsed on the shoulders of Alaba, his rival on the pitch, and his smiles after the semi-final against Leipzig, in which he uploaded a photo joking with a can of Red Bull, they turned into tears. He did not find the goal or almost the options for it. With the ankles getting kicked non-stop and releasing the ball too soon. He sat down on the stadium bench, found himself crestfallen in the middle of the hallway made by the players of the German club and caressed, lamenting, the European Cup after receiving the medal.
In the box, Al-Khelaifi, who has spent four summers spending more than 90 million in transfers, looked at the horizon, at a financial Fair Play that every year will make his oil budget more complicated, and a future in which his big stars could seek new challenges.