PSG show Bayern Munich the true value of €222m Neymar
It took Neymar barely a minute to make a decisive contribution to Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-0 rout of Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
The former Barcelona man gathered the ball on the left of the field, beat a couple of players and rolled an inviting pass to Dani Alves that his ex-Camp Nou colleague battered into the net.
It set in motion events that led to the French giants claiming a formidable victory against a German outfit who have only suffered seven defeats of such a magnitude or worse in their long European history.
The PSG board would have felt a particular satisfaction at the victory, having been persistently the butt of jibes from the Bundesliga champions since it became evident that they were about to shatter the record books by matching Neymar’s release clause and luring the Brazilian from Barcelona.
Bayern president Uli Hoeness was one of the most outspoken critics of the deal, branding the world’s most expensive player “not that good”.
Given he was in charge of FCB when they turned down the opportunity to sign the player in 2010 for just €24m, at least according to agent Predrag Racki, it is perhaps little surprise that he has done his best to play down the talents of the 25-year-old.
It might not be a one-club crusade against the big-spending nature of PSG, with Barca and Real Madrid also unhappy with the manner in which they have flexed their financial muscles, but there is no doubt that Bayern have been keener than any other to publicly admonish the French.
Hoeness described the lavish deal to lure Neymar as “a sign of weakness”, but in truth, this was simply covering up his team’s inability to compete in the transfer market against such spending.
The Germans are acutely aware that it is a problem that is only going to worse. Star striker Robert Lewandowski broke ranks to criticise their frugality in the transfer market, claiming that FCB are not even willing to pay the price for “average” players in the current climate.
The Pole was concerned about his side’s inability to compete at European football’s sharp end, and those fears were realised in their first major challenge of the season as they were swept aside in Paris.
Bayern may have bossed the game statistically, enjoying more possession, shots and even what UEFA vaguely term ‘dangerous attacks’ than their hosts, but anyone watching would see that this was not reflective of what played out.
While the Germans were toothless in attack, despite the best efforts of Lewandowski, the French were clinical and genuinely looked like scoring far more regularly than their rivals.
Hoeness might have been critical of their transfer policy, but he is in no position to argue that they have not got extreme quality at their disposal, the kind of which it appeared Bayern could only lust for on an evening where the big-spenders justified their outlay.
“It was a great demonstration,” Edinson Cavani, who got the second on the night, told BeIn Sport. “Our team has great ambition and we demonstrated it tonight by playing a great match. We’re happy and we want to continue like this for a very long time.”
Perhaps for the first time, PSG appear genuinely bullish about their prospects both in the short and long-term for the competition.
“With the win, we’re favourites to win the group,” head coach Unai Emery said after the game. “The objective was to win this match, it was important for the supporters, who have seen a victory against a team of the highest level. We’ve shown them we’re on the path to progressing.”
No doubt, this PSG side is an entirely different beast to the one that crumbled against a Neymar-inspired Barcelona in the spring as they embarrassingly limped out of the Champions League.
Their spending power has not only drawn in the type of player that can dismantle even very good sides, it has provided them with the self-confidence that they can go on and win the Champions League.
Bayern, meanwhile, have been shown up. Their summer statements now look like jealously filled rants that underscore this new era that PSG have ushered in, whether it is for the good of the game or not.
If the Germans are to compete at this level in the future, they too are going to have to open their cheque books, just as Lewandowski predicted. For now, they face a battle with Celtic in a forthcoming double header to even reach the knockout stages. It is not what a club of their stature expects.