Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: Superstars Fail to Shine

Dan ColasimoneContributor IJanuary 13, 2014

Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: Superstars Fail to Shine

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Arguably the four biggest stars of world football at the moment, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, all endured a relatively underwhelming weekend in terms of their own contributions, but the latter two will be happier at having taken home three competition points.

    Neymar and Messi came off the bench as their Barcelona side drew 0-0 with Atletico Madrid, while Bale and Ronaldo both started in Real Madrid's hard-fought 1-0 win over Espanyol, which enabled the capital club to close the gap on the two table-toppers.

    Here we take a look at the individual performances of the high-profile quartet.

Neymar

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    Joining the fray in the 67th minute, Neymar could not make the difference as Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw by Atletico Madrid.

    The Brazilian was less involved than fellow sub Lionel Messi and had a few moments of sloppiness which could be a result of not getting the game time he desires at present.

    On a brighter note for the wunderkind, the Marca website posted a video of him playing an Alicia Keys song on the piano, showing him to be quite talented in that regard as well.

Messi

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    Following his astonishing cameo in his return from injury against Getafe during the week in which Messi seemed to go from off-the-pace to his brilliant best in the space of 30 minutes, the Argentine genius had a more subdued showing off the bench against Atletico.

    The No. 10 could not break the deadlock in a tight, tactical game, though his mere presence did give the contest an extra sense of excitement.

    Messi made a couple of his trademark jinking runs, had a header on target and another powerful shot saved by Thibaut Courtois, but ultimately, he was unable to find a goal.

    There were enough positive signs from his 46-minute contribution to indicate that he will soon be back to his unstoppable best. 

Gareth Bale

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    By far the least impressive of our luminous quartet, Bale had one of his poorer outings in a Real Madrid shirt.

    Playing on the right, with Angel Di Maria inside him and Cristiano Ronaldo on the left, the Welshman had very little impact on the game.

    He was subbed off after 76 minutes for Jese Rodriguez, the only surprise being that he wasn't hooked earlier. 

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    The favorite to win Monday's Ballon d'Or, Ronaldo, had a subdued game against Espanyol on Sunday.

    As per usual, the former Manchester United player had his fair share of chances, but he was strangely wasteful in front of goal.

    He miss-hit one effort in the 19th minute before firing on target in the 32nd minute only to see his shot saved.

    In the second half, he benefited from a delightful long pass from Di Maria to find himself with time in the box, but he pulled his shot wide.

    A flurry of late opportunities were also wasted by the Portuguese, who may have been daydreaming about collecting a certain award in Zurich.