Neymar Living Up to Barcelona Hype After Timely 1st Goal in Spanish Supercopa
Prized and precocious Barcelona forward Neymar has not taken long to make an impact with his new club. The 21-year-old star's goal to help Barca salvage a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa against Atletico Madrid proves that he is worth the hefty price the club paid for him this summer.
It took a transfer fee of £48.6 million to lure Neymar away from his former Santos club, located in his native Brazil. At least in the early going, it appears Barca will get a full return on their investment.
At this point, manager Gerardo Martino is content to bring Neymar off the bench to provide a speedy spark to the already prolific attack the Catalans field.
Should Neymar start against Malaga this weekend?
An injury to Lionel Messi might change those plans and expand Neymar's role in the immediate future, though.
In the first half of the last contest, Messi left and, according to the club's official website, he has a bruised femoral biceps tendon in his left thigh, leaving him doubtful for the next match against Malaga.
Barca needed someone to step up in trailing Atletico Madrid, especially on the road and after ex-Blaugrana forward David Villa ignited the home crowd by drawing first blood on the scoreboard in the 12th minute.
The response by Neymar was extraordinary, as he headed home the equalizer in the 66th minute on a nice cross by Dani Alves:
Duncan Shaw of BDLive.co.za reports that Neymar valued the goal a lot, since he doesn't score with his head often, but also that Neymar is aching to play more with Messi.
That tandem will likely have to wait to be in action together, but the brief absence by Messi may be a blessing in disguise to thrust Neymar into a starting role and evaluate how he handles it.
Considering the magnitude of Neymar's first goal, though, it seems the spotlight of Camp Nou won't shine too brightly for the prodigy. Neymar has a thunderous shot and sensational swiftness, and the way he sneaked behind the Atletico Madrid defense was a display of masterful natural instincts.
The fact that he scored his first goal on a header shows off a dimension of his arsenal that hasn't been as evident but is nevertheless impressive—and an eery coincidence.
Neymar: First goal for Santos: Header First goal for Brazil: Header First goal for Barcelona: Header.— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) August 22, 2013
Malaga finished sixth in La Liga's standings in 2012-13, sporting a formidable defense that could pose problems for Barca sans Messi. Thus, reliance on Neymar should increase. Only seven minutes after taking the pitch as a substitute in the first leg of the Super Cup, he proved his worth by finding the net.
Neymar also has the ability to create chances for his teammates with phenomenal passing and dribbling prowess. As the season progresses, he should only operate alongside Barca's other offensive assets more efficiently.
At this early juncture, with Neymar's confidence and form trending upward after a clutch goal, Martino should capitalize on the unfortunate injury to Messi and play Neymar as much as possible.
Should that be a strategy Martino deploys, if early signs are an indication, Neymar will relish the moment.
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