Before Half-time Neymar Creates His First Otherworldly Moment

One hour to Paris Saint-Germain versus Dijon in the Parc des Princes on Wednesday there was a scramble from the Dijon playground, the thrilling spectacle of three world-class players tussling over the ball at the tightest of spaces. Some may point to the small oddity that three players were sporting PSG shirts. It's tempting now to describe the Dijon goal as "beleaguered". But this would assume, incorrectly, it was really leaguered in the first location.

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PSG was 5-0 up, the white tops of Dijon glimpsed only briefly, like Victorian garden ghosts, extras in somebody else's show. Half an hour after PSG were awarded a penalty to close out the game. The crowd was lulled into an after-party vibe by then, drunk on its own gurgles of enjoyment. Some chanted for "Eddie" to take the kick, a nod to a prior penalty shemozzle and to the fact Cavani was on the brink of breaking Zlatan Ibrahimovic's PSG target album. There were mischievous boos as Neymar stepped up instead, although these were changed into cheers 10 times as loud as he tickled the ball to the corner of the internet to make the final score 8-0. agen sbobet

The following day this could be reported as "audience boo Neymar through wonder-show". However, these people were not really booing. They were amusing themselves, finding something to do at the end of a success that left soccer's most annihilating superstar vehicle 11 points clear at the peak of the French league; and which provided the most extreme example so far of this disorienting simplicity by which Neymar is gliding his way during the domestic season. Yes: I moved to Paris and saw PSG win 8-0 from the 10th-placed team in the league. This is a common problem today. Barcelona might have lost their unbeaten record but they're still gamboling off with La Liga.

There's a question of degree, however, and this was an astonishing night as Dijon, that has to invest more than #2m on a participant, performed with sub-zero intensity against PSG's #450m attack. Soon after kick-off, Neymar was permitted to take the ball, stop for a bit, think about it and perform with a return pass, all of the while adjusting his socks. From the conclusion, this was a spectacle so lacking in tension or doubt it appeared to stray beyond the definition of the game into something else: a choreographed performance, a screen, 90 minutes of shining celebrity triumphalism.

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On a room-temperature night that the next-best participant in the world, that beautiful little animation skill-sprite at the No 10 shirt, was jaw-droppingly excellent. Neymar scored four times, set up two and generated constant throwaway moments of sublime skill. The following day he would become only the eighth player to be awarded 10 out of 10 by L'Équipe in its renowned participant evaluations, despite having spent portions of the night drifting around, picking his minutes to snap out of standby mode.

This is an oddly static sort of brilliance. Neymar may wind up fulfilling his own much-trailed fate by becoming the world's best player. But he's already soccer's most post-modern entity, a star player who appears to spend the majority of his time being a star player, being Neymar, a willing figurehead for the Qatari global domination project, cloudless branding receptacle, playing his own strangely airless domestic dominance.

The highlight of this game came midway through the second half. It was an outrageous moment, among the most breathtaking individual goals you are going to see, albeit against demoralized and brutally outgunned competitions. Sensational. There is, of course, a clear reply to this. In the most elementary sense, Neymar is there to change product at a club which has always fed on star power. Although on reflection the lack of Neymar away kit backward cap does seem like a missed gap in the industry.

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This is fair enough. Commercial revenues are a major dividing point at the elite level. PSG don't need to exchange for as a state-funded entity, drunk on its own unlimited petrol-dope. They want the same sort of un-level playing field as all of the other mega-clubs. For all that, this remains a strictly localized mania. This won't ever be a soccer city such as Manchester or Munich, tied indissolubly to its groups. In the shadow of the Parc des Princes, there is not that fevered proximity-glamour that swirls up around other significant grounds. The audiences are orderly in the hour before kick-off. Police with machine guns yawn on each corner.

For the Dijon match, the arena is a third empty but the PSG ultras fill the 90 minutes with an assortment of songs and chants that seem to the English ear a bit too jolly, too merry, such as the sort of football noise you make it in TV movies. This isn't the old anguish and rage. This is a celebration. PSG do back-flicks and rabonas within their own half. Before half-time Neymar creates his first otherworldly moment, beating four players before being triggered; then lifting the most beautiful small nudged free-kick to the top corner. Before the audience can recover he is striding off to the rest pursued, as ever, by guys with cameras and spotlights, a picture that feels strangely apt at the moment.

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"If Paris does not win the Champions League, he has gone. 1 season is all he has, he's waiting here. There's absolutely not any Championnat today, nothing, it's just rest time for him. Why would you come here? It's not the same level everywhere else. I feel like he's just sleeping." Manolo works in a bistro just around the corner and was a PSG enthusiast since he was a child. His view reflects a natural wariness among several fans about the basking superstar in their midst, that gloriously well-remunerated ambassador for the 21st Emirati arrondissement.

Others shrug and revel in it. "He's beautiful and he's ours," says a guy named Bruno draped in a PSG flag. "In England, of course, you're jealous. The Premier League has plenty of money but why should not he be here? We win the Champions League and you'll stop asking this." French journalists near to PSG will also be skeptical about the notion Paris is only a bridging movement for Neymar from Catalonia to Madrid. The feeling is that he will stay for two, possibly three years if only because Qatar do not wish to sell. Take the amount by all means. However, it comes with strings. Just ask Marco Verratti, who appears to have been trying to leave for 2 decades now.


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