Did Cristiano Ronaldo's two goal haul highlight the missing ingredient Neymar needs to become the very best? beIN's couch potatoes discuss.
FOR - by BASIL SAAB
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have distinguished themselves from the rest of world football with a 10-year stranglehold on the FIFA Ballon d’Or, and Neymar is next in line to assume the throne.
This morning’s (AEDT) blockbuster at the Bernabeu was Neymar's big moment to do just that.
It was the Brazilian's chance to live up to his $A350 million price-tag and lead PSG to UEFA Champions League glory, while Ronaldo was out to silence his critics and prove he can still deliver on the big stage at 33.
The seasoned master prevailed in the end with two goals in the 3-1 win, which exposed the missing trait Neymar needs to achieve football immortality – a killer instinct to win at all costs.
Ronaldo’s critics will say his two-goal haul was fortuitous – a dubious penalty and tap-in from close range, but once again the Portuguese star delivered when it mattered.
His remarkable stats prove there’s no luck involved - 11 goals in seven Champions League games this season and the only player to score 100 UCL goals for a single club.
Sure, Ronaldo was relatively anonymous for most of the match, but still scored two goals which turned the tie around for an under-fire Los Blancos side trailing at home – and that’s what separates the very best from the rest.
For all the flair and undeniable talent Neymar possesses the fact is, he couldn’t lead PSG to victory when it mattered, which is what separates the likes of Pele, Messi and Maradona from the rest.
There’s no question the 26 year-old has the talent get there, but today's defeat proved he’s still got a way to go.
AGAINST - by TOM FINDLAY
What is unequivocally not in doubt is Ronaldo's status as one of modern football's greatest players. More than a century of UEFA Champions League goals barely does justice to the Portuguese attacking star's influence on a Real Madrid team that has conquered all before it at club level.
He's lit up the world's biggest stages, stamping his authority on some of its biggest games. It's just that this morning's 3-1 win over PSG wasn't one of them. Ronaldo's name might be next to two of Madrid's three goals against the Parisians, but to read into that as a sign of the attacker's dominance is to neglect what was a performance punctuated by frustrating misses, limited opportunities to dribble the ball and a general malaise that has afflicted not only him but many of his fellow Los Blancos during a season of inconsistency and intense media pressure.
Ronaldo is a renowned finisher from the penalty spot and his ethereal effort this morning was no different. But when it came to creating the opportunity, the Portuguese wasn't involved in the play at all. His second goal was a tap-in and he the beneficiary of the hard work of his team-mates, Marco Asensio prominent among them.
It doesn't follow logically that any aspect of Ronaldo's performance in this match exposed PSG counterpart Neymar as an inferior player. Statistically Neymar created three scoring chances for his team to Ronaldo's none, he touched the ball 86 times to Ronaldo's 40, registered 45 passes to Ronaldo's 20 and fired in five crosses to the Portuguese's zero.
Neymar was an ever-present attacking threat for his team, whereas Ronaldo was present to tap in the chances his team created for him. Besides, had PSG won a penalty and Neymar converted it, that aspect of the argument 'for' would be a moot point. Had the Brazilian finished an easy tap-in, this conversation may not be happening.
Ronaldo has been the difference many times for this all-conquering Madrid team, but this morning he was a bit-part player in a team ensemble , led by the irrepressible Marcelo and substitute Asensio. To credit Ronaldo as being the difference is to undermine the efforts of the collective.
For his part, Neymar was an influential attacking threat in a team that wasn't able to convert the myriad chances he created. While he's yet to consistently match the feats of Ronaldo year in, year out, to deem him inferior based on the evidence of this game alone, is to fail to understand that very nature of the game.