Neymars in the Neymar: Neymar – Barça

CWC Preview: Santos – Barcelona, 5:30am ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes (ESPN in UK)

I know you want to read about tactical innovations from Pep, wrinkles in the seemingly perfected system, and the selection headache created by David Villa’s unfortunate injury in the semifinal. You might want to hear about Pele’s adventures with Santos from 1956 to his move to the NASL in 1974 or the entire history of the FIFA Club World Cup, but really, come on, you know that this whole thing, this entire tournament, is about Neymar.

There were the haircuts and the temper tantrums, then the golazo in the semifinal, and the press conference concerning the official announcement of his arrival at the Camp Nou sometime between now and later (pending confirmation). There’s the fact that I bought him on FIFA12 (true) and the fact that he’s constantly winking at Barça during interviews and maybe even in games (not true). He’s the next wonderkid. He’s the guy that can overtake Messi as the best in the world—never mind the conversation about that other guy on that one team, whatever his name is?—or perhaps he already has. Depends on who you ask, I suppose. You could always do a “scientific” look at the two players to determine who is better.

Whatever, Neymar’s an immense talent as well as a cheeky devil that sometimes makes Angel “Dive Maria” Di Maria and Sergio “My Face, Oh God My Face” Busquets look like saints who can take quite the beating at the hands of other players. He plays the way Dani Alves used to play, really, which is a sort of dirty way that involves willfully and willingly hoodwinking the ref and any opponent that gets near enough to him to be plausibly used as a diving foil. Part of that is age (Neymar is 19—19!) and part of that is the league he plays in.

He’s scored 81 in 158 appearances over the last 3 seasons, which is nothing to sneeze at. He got 43 goals in 63 matches last year. 63 matches for an 18-year old is absolutely ridiculous. He’s also credited by Wikipedia with 21 assists in that year, meaning he directly contributed to 64 goals. Wild.

And yet.

There’s Ganso, (the other) Henrique, Elano, Danilo, and veteran journeyman striker Borges who got his first Brazil cap this year at the age of 30. It’s Ganso that runs the team, that is their true 10. Maybe not Ronaldinho in his prime, but certainly has a silky touch, deadly left foot, and vision for days. That he’s 6 feet tall is merely another weapon in his arsenal, though he might find it hard to keep up with Barça’s midfield. Which is to say that he is human, unlike those mighty midgets. This video of the Copa Libertadores final 2nd leg match at Santos shows his skills.

The fighting afterwards—disgraceful leaps to mind here, of course—was a blot on this team’s journey to where it is now, but one that can’t be forgotten. Neymar showed his immaturity by fighting back after winning a title, certainly—not to excuse Peñarol’s part in all of it—and that kind of ill discipline could cost them if they’re not careful during the final. Barça maybe not be the most disciplined side of all time, but the lack of control over the match (possession) and intensity of their running to keep up with Barça’s offensive and defensive pressure. It’ll be up to Ganso and Elano to keep their heads in the middle and work the ball a little bit and up to Neymar to Neymar all the Neymars that ever did Neymar.


What’s important is that the squad realizes the significance of this match in terms of physical requirements. It’s a match where a counterattack will be much like what was faced in the Bernabeu a week ago; Guardiola has said as much: “tienen una contra al nivel del Real Madrid.” The speed with which they play and the technical qualities they bring to the field of play are higher than you might suspect, especially if you’re a euro-centric fan who has failed to note just how good some of the Libertadores matches were last year. Sure, the Brazilian domestic system is an absolute mess, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely devoid of quality matches.

So how does Barça approach this? Alexis Sánchez is a doubt and Villa is injured, which means that we’ll probably see Cesc start in what amounts to a 4-3-3/3-4-3 hybrid. If we want lots of width, we’ll start both Pedro and Cuenca, but that seems doubtful.

Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro. (they’ll come out wearing these, supposedly)

That lineup gives some versatility to the midfield, especially with Cesc, Iniesta, and Pedro all combining to occupy the left while simultaneously providing midfield dominance and direct approach should Messi require a 1-2 passing move to slide through defenders. It’s not necessarily the optimal approach, but Cuenca coming off the bench simply makes more sense given the experience everyone else has and the change of pace Isaac can provide late in the match when most of their defenders have become accustomed to the speed of play.

Official Prediction: 0-2, goals by Messi and Cesc. Another trophy for the team to crow about. And for Rosell to claim even though he didn’t do anything.

But really, we all know what this is about:

Picture from this crazy site.

And while you’re hanging out waiting for the match to start, why not listen to me making fun of Madridistas:

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. Neymars, these neymars want to change your neymar. They don’t want Neymar or any of these neymars to live here because it’s bad for their neymar. They use Neymar to try and force neymars to believe they’re Neymar. If you let them stay here, they will build neymars and neymars. They will take all your neymars and replace them with Neymar. These neymars have no good neymar to neymar on Neymar, so they must come here to neymar. Please, let these neymars stay where they can grow and prosper without any Neymar, neymar, or neymars.”
    “South Park” episode 311

    1. Heh. My favorite South Park episode is still “Night of the Living Neymar,” where Cartman rounds up all the Neymars and puts them on a bus to Santa Monica.

    1. Does Ryan count as a volunteer?

      In any case, I don’t think you’ve hosted a LiveBlog before so it’d cool to get someone new to host.

      I’ll email you the instructions.

  2. TABOH is no doubt talented, and may have a great future ahead of him. But it is crazy how everyone is already treating him as a pending Legend. Just what you need to damage a young player.

    As Isaiah pointed out, there are other players to be worried about against Santos beside TABOH. Pep can ask Mascherano, Busquets, Abodal, and Puyol to man-mark TABOH tightly so he doesnt score more than twice. Then it is the job of the other barca players to deal with the rest of Santos players. Tough match.

    1. “Just what you need to damage a young player.”

      Just ask Bojans and Vela’s out there (he was really hyped by the Mexican press).

  3. If Santos don’t win tomorrow, can we stop talking about Neymar? Please?

    My gut is telling me that Cuenca will start over Sanchez tomorrow. My gut is frequently wrong.

    1. You may be right if Sánchez has problems with his “isquiotibiales”, if he has an injury tomorrow we could lose a lot of points on january and hlebruary.

    1. There’s still time! Don’t lose hope…this isn’t some bottom of the table team rolls over and gives up before the first half is over.
      If it wasn’t for St. Iker it would be 2-1 right now.

    2. Sevilla should have capitalized on the myriad of chances they’ve had in this half. Smh game over already.

  4. Well…at least Sevilla tried hard in the first half but with Iker being the keeper, its tough.

    Maybe now that EE is down a man then Sevilla might still have a small(very small) chance.

  5. Sevilla is being Neymared by Evil.

    don’t they learn anything from us how to Neymar a bunch of Evils?

    hell, let’s Neymar this Neymar Cup, bring it home for Ibi, Tito, and Villa!

    1. It’s impossible to defeat evil when the ref is robbing them of a clear penalty, send offs, etc. And they say refs are biased against them.

  6. Apparently it’s not a ‘Liga de mierda’, Del Nido. It’s just that your team is an ‘equipo de mierda’. FFS how can a supposed ‘top team’ lose 6-2 on home turf for 2 consecutive seasons, don’t they have any pride or spirit? Madrid weren’t that great, even Sid Lowe tweeted about it during the match. Much much weaker teams have kept more respectable score lines against us and Madrid. Sevilla should be ashamed.
    The thing that makes me angry now is that I know they won’t play like that when we play against them. They’ll give us a hard time as they always do!

    1. They played us to tie or not lose 2-6. Reality is that teams think they can beat Madrid so they open the field, teams do not think they can beat us, so they park the bus. Simple.
      My concern is that these guys were the ones in a strike about not getting paid, seriously you play like that and think you deserve a paycheck? Its hilarious.

    2. There’s a misconception floating around about Sevilla, that we are a top team. This isn’t true. There are only two top teams in La Liga. We like to play hard and do our best, but we don’t often measure up to the top teams in direct competition OR in our records against such giants as Getafe or Racing.

      I realize you are exaggerating by suggesting that Sevilla have no pride or spirit, either that or you didn’t see the 0-0 earlier this year in the Camp Nou. But you did see today’s, right? Surely, you aren’t just looking at the scoreline. We out played RM for the first 45 minutes and went in 0-3 at halftime because of better finishing on three chances by Los Blancos. Manu, Rakitic and Negredo missed mostly open goals, or shot directly at Iker from close range. Madrid weren’t great, but you can win even on your bad days if you own several €40M scoring machines. The game could have fallen our way just as easily, but they went down to 10 men and sat back to wait for counters up 0-3. No one will overturn that. In fact, the most likely is, as you sub out defensive players for offensive ones, that RM will score more on you when they break.

      You have no idea how sorry we are to have disappointed you.

    3. Obviously this post was just me letting out some negative feelings due to the enormous hope I had that Sevilla would at least draw with EE after they have been humbled by us last week. That’s where the frustration comes from.

      Sevilla might not be a top team like Barça or EE but a team that has Spanish internationals like Negredo and Navas, a top player like Kanoute and many others shouldn’t be beaten that easily by any team for 2 consecutive seasons. I really can’t remember the last time one of the big 2 won by this margin 2 in consecutive seasons.

    4. lost 2-6 for TWO consecutive seasons. how? 2-6 again, really?

      definitely there’s something wrong there with Sevilla. even Valencia has improved their scoreline from last season, from 3-6 to 2-3. heh.

    5. “Sevilla have no pride or spirit, either that or you didn’t see the 0-0 earlier this year in the Camp Nou”

      So sticking 11 “professionals” in defense is a motive of pride or spirit? Ok. You’re right. Sevilla isn’t a top team, and will never ever be.

  7. Honestly I could care less about RM winning or CR scoring more goals because they couldn’t do it against us. – Jnice on Twitter


    1. Like… it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I look at them as impostors. “Let’s score 10 goals against every other team in La Liga, but when we play Barça we’ll play like losers.” I almost feel like Cristiano should be ashamed of himself celebrating the way he does, as if we didn’t see what he did (or didn’t do rather) just last week. That might just be me, though.

      Whatevs… I’m ready for this game to start.

    2. Poor guy. When he doesn’t score, people abuse him. And when he does, people abuse him. What do you expect Cristiano to do after scoring? Shake his head because he failed to score in the previous game.

  8. I’m a little confused about the definition of neymar. How should we define this term?
    Not gonna lie, I’m kinda excited to see Neymar. I’ve heard so much about him but never really seen him play.

  9. I see comments from Culedom that other teams haven’t tried as hard against us, versus EE. And that explains those 6-2s in comparison to the 0-0s.

    I think Culedom should be braced for more EE dominance against Liga opposition.

    We should rather ask why Barca is not winning against all opposition not named EE. IMO, it all boils down to fitness and rest. I sense a neck-to-neck battle between EE and us from Jan onwards and also the Camp Nou Clasico to decisively decide the Liga champions.

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