Paris Saint-Germain are finally through to a Champions League semi-final after beating Atalanta 2-1 in Lisbon.
After years of slip ups and near misses, the Ligue 1 champions will have a shot at making the final of Europe’s most prestigious competition.
It’s the first time PSG have made the final four since the 1994/95 season and they owe much of their progress to the world’s most expensive footballer – Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.
The Brazilian forward delivered his finest performance in a PSG shirt to date last night, carrying the French side’s attack with distinction.
In the first half in particular, Neymar really was a one-man band, with Pablo Sarabia and Mauro Icardi struggling to have any influence over proceedings.
The assist will go down as Kylian Mbappe’s, but Neymar’s exquisite pass to his partner-in-crime – the ‘pre-assist’ – was the defining aspect of the goal.
To deliver such an intricate pass under so much pressure is why the 28-year-old is the third best player in the world.
We often laud Neymar for his goalscoring ability, but it’s his playmaking that makes his stand out above other attackers these days.
Neymar’s assist last night means he now has 23 to his name in just 58 Champions League games, as well as 35 goals.
That means he’s averaging a goal involvement every single time he steps out on the pitch to play in world football’s most iconic club tournament – remarkable numbers.
The onus will now be on Neymar to deliver big performances in both the semi-final and – should PSG progress – the final of this year’s Champions League.
When PSG signed him for £198m in the summer of 2017, the club and player’s primary objective was to secure European glory.
That outcome finally appears to be a distinct possibility in 2019/20 and if it comes to fruition, Neymar can finally say he was correct to leave the shadow of Lionel Messi.
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