Rabonas, no-look passes & a shaggable assist: Neymar’s 45 minutes vs Celtic

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As if PSG weren’t already committed enough to the Harlem Globetrotters vibe, the cancellation of the Ligue 1 season has given Neymar and co. the time to really perfect the art of taking the piss.

Needing warm-up matches to prepare for their cup finals against Saint-Etienne and Lyon as well as their Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta, PSG have played four friendlies in recent weeks, with the aggregate score from those games currently standing at 23-0.

Celtic were the latest victims, swatted aside 4-0 at the Parc des Princes, leaving the ground with steam coming out of their ears in exasperation – mainly at failing to get the ball off Neymar.

A player with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, we know Neymar is a bit of a dickhead, but he’s also hilariously gifted.

Indeed just 49 seconds into the game, he collected a pass in his own half, turned, and played a shaggable pass for Kylian Mbappe to score – eerily similar to Kaka’s dreamy assist for Hernan Crespo in the 2005 Champions League final.

Neymar scored himself midway through the first half via an ugly, deflected shot. But more in keeping with the Harlem Globetrotters theme were the positions he took up on the pitch, simultaneously playing as a central playmaker and on both wings.

Relishing a free role that allowed him to pick and choose which poor Celtic player he was going to torment next, the Brazil international almost created another goal for Mbappe with a move that started with a rabona pass seemingly designed to enrage the defence into following him out of position.

Celtic’s Ryan Christie was a victim on a number of occasions, and you can almost see back the exact moment his spirit left him as he watched Neymar race away once again.

Even a standard free-kick around the halfway line ended in humiliation for Christie, who had Neymar staring in his eyes while playing a pass in the opposite direction, like the Road Runner taunting Wile E Coyote as he tumbles down the edge of another cliff.

After 45 minutes of intelligent passes, dropped shoulders and dragbacks, PSG at least took pity on Celtic. Neymar was withdrawn at half-time as Thomas Tuchel replaced his entire XI.

Neymar had clearly left a lasting impression on Neil Lennon, who he argued with on the touchline at one stage. When asked whether the forward is infuriating, Lennon replied: “He is, but he knows it. He was trying to wind people up. I said to the players, ‘You just have to keep your discipline and not take the bait.’”

In one report of the game on a Celtic fan site, Neymar was described as a “rat” and “probably the most disliked footballer of all time who has not played for one of the Ibrox clubs”.

Lennon may have told his players not to take the bait, but you only need 45 minutes of Neymar to be caught hook, line and sinker.


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