Whichever (or both) of those sentences you think true, there is one thing we can agree on: Neymar is a galvanizing figure on the world football stage. When he came to Barça at the beginning of this season for a pile of cash, nobody knew what to expect.
Cruijff said that Neymar and Messi were incompatible. Others cried luxury purchase, that the club needed a CB more than a Brazilian with malleable hair and an Instagram fetish.
Still others said that he was one of the best players in the world even at the tender age of 21, with associative play of the type that could fit in very effectively at Barça.
Someone who knew once said to me, “You have to do 100 things exactly right to win a bicycle race. Do 99 of them exactly right, and you finish second.” Margins are like that in athletic endeavor.
You push, you shove, you train as hard as you can, doing efforts and intervals until you actually vomit. You wipe your mouth, rinse it out with Gatorade and get back on the bicycle as soon as you stop seeing double.
You do this because you want, more than anything else, to win. Every athlete wants to win. Winning is the absolute best thing that can be experienced. Once you get it, it’s like the most addictive drug. People lie, cheat, dope in an effort to keep doing it. As the saying goes, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Armageddon happened yesterday, set to the sound of cloven hooves clad in Gucci loafers. Or not. It all depends.
FC Barcelona is a lot like sex, or a hot fudge sundae — pretty hard to mess up. So when socis went to the polls on Saturday to vote for … something or other that was going to cost, more or less, EUR 600m, the logic was in fact rather easy to see:
When the gods want to punish you, the saying goes, they answer your prayers — and the Gods of Football have, of late, been especially punitive. Looking to draw a soft penalty to finish off the clásico and the league along with it? Why, here’s three! (You take one, and your archrival will take the other two.) Praying that your club president will finally come to his senses and ship that mean ol’ coach back to the miserable island from which he came? Presto! (What are you sulking about? You’re still captain!) Ever daydream that one day you would be the Zamora-winning first-string keeper between the posts of a world-class team? Done and done! (No, I mean done. Right now, mid-match, of a derby, with a Champions tie in two days. No sweat, right? You’re at least pumped for another Copa final!) Read MoreEpic