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They say that Neymar Júnior decided to abandon his comfortable life in Barcelona the day after one of the best games of his life. Barça had achieved a comeback for history against PSG , endorsing a 6-1 that reversed the embarrassing 4-0 in Paris -of those muds these muds, but that is another story- with him as the undisputed star of the feat. However, the image that remained for the memory of that March 8, 2017 was that of Leo Messi raised over the fence of one of the funds, with his fist raised, receiving the embrace of dozens of fans, like an emperor celebrating with the people the greatest of their conquests.
That day, Neymar assumed that he would never assault the world throne dressed as a Barça player, since the religious devotion of the fans and the culé environment towards his friend Messi made it impossible even to be number one at the Camp Nou. It was then that Paris Saint-Germain appeared , armed with 222 million euros , to hand him the keys to his megalomaniac project, opening a catwalk with an uncertain path to reach the zenith of world football. Three years later, Neymar is close to achieving it.
What they tell of Robert Lewandowski is more prosaic, less personalistic - some would say selfish - if you will, but it also reflects their ambition. The Pole had reached the 2013 Champions League final as a striker for Jürgen Klopp's unforgettable Borussia Dortmund . The defeat against Bayern at the Wembley event made him conclude that that team had reached the ceiling and that, if he wanted to continue progressing and increasing his record, he had to pack his bags in search of a new destination. Pep Guardiola's presence on the Bayern bench did the rest for one of the most traumatic operations in the Bundesliga in recent times, his march to Munich with the release card in the summer of 2014. Since then, he has cultivated a dream until now impossible, lift a European Cup. Six years later, Lewy is close to it too.
The presence of PSG and Bayern in tonight's final in Lisbon can not be explained solely by the leadership of their stars, because if both finalists have stood out for something in this extraordinary final phase of the Champions League, it is because of the harmony of their team. for the excellent work done from the benches by Thomas Tuchel and Hans-Dieter Flick . Once the appropriate qualification has been made, it is also fair to emphasize that neither of the two blocks would have sustained as it has done without the capital contribution of its two reference footballers. For them, there is more at stake than the possibility of winning a European Cup, the second for the Brazilian, the first for the Pole. On the lawn of the Da Luz Stadium in Lisbon, the legitimate inheritance of the world football throne is also being resolved tonight, the one that during the last decade Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have taken over without discussion . With Kevin de Bruyne's permission , today it is not only decided who takes over from Liverpool as European champion, but also who is the best footballer in the world right now.
The reasons for the throne
Both present ample arguments to demand the scepter. Those of Neymar explains both the presence and absence from. In the previous two seasons, PSG remained anchored in the round of 16, in 2018 against Real Madrid and in 2019 against Manchester United , adding two new disappointments to the history of Nasser Al-Khelaïfi's millionaire project . There were two eliminations marked by a common factor: the absence of the Brazilian forward due to injury - a circumstance that was too recurrent in his three-year period in Paris - in the final matches. In Lisbon, after another year marked by long-forgotten physical problems, he gave a football recital against both Atalanta and Leipzig, with the only pending goal of the game. At 28 years old , he finally establishes himself as the world star who has nothing to envy anyone, the one who was always intuited.
« Neymar is an exceptional player , very very strong. He really has the mentality and the hunger to win, to show that he is capable of being the best player in the world, "Tuchel said of him after the semi-final match. Forgotten - at least for the moment - his flirtations with Barça and his defiant attitudes towards Qatari ownership, Ney is without question the leader of this united PSG, who strives to project outward an image of unity in front of the cricket cage so many times related. “People have a very wrong image of that wardrobe. There are many players who are the best in their position, they all want to play and score goals, but the year I was there the atmosphere was very good. I didn't run into any problem, we all got along very well, "explained Yuri Berchiche, a PSG player in the 2017/18 season, now at Athletic, in an interview with EL MUNDO.
The 'Lewy' numbers
At Bayern, it was the arrival of Flick in the fall that put the pieces in order and balanced a chipped wardrobe. Perhaps Lewandowski is not such an indisputable leader in the Bavarian team - there are Neuer, Boateng, Müller or Alaba - but his numbers place him at the top of the pyramid and ratify him as the most lethal battering ram of the moment. At the age of 32 on Friday, the Pole achieved the best numbers of his career. He has 55 goals since the start of the season, 12 more than his best season so far. In the race for the European Golden Shoe, only Ciro Immobile (Lazio) has surpassed him by two goals, with the asterisk that four more games are played in the Italian League than in the German.
Although perhaps the most impressive thing is his continental performance: he has scored in all the Champions League games he has played, nine of the 10 that Bayern have played. Only the clash against Tottenham on the last day of the group stage was lost, by technical decision, to which the Germans arrived as the first group. He has a total of 15 goals in Europe, a figure that places him only two behind Cristiano Ronaldo's historical record . If he manages to catch up - or surpass him - tonight for Bayern Munich to win the Champions League, the scepter of world football will be his. Otherwise, Neymar will legitimately claim it as his own. The Olympus of football is no longer owned by Messi or Cristiano. The question to be resolved today is simple: Who is in charge now?
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