The ball was in the back of the net. Alphonse Areola was heartbroken. “What just happened?”, he must have thought. In one word – magic! A moment of absolute brilliance that had propelled the Camp Nou into a frenzy of animated ecstasy. His name was chanted all over one of football’s most revered shrines. The name was Neymar. And in that moment he wasn’t just a footballer, he was a magician. You can call him Houdini if you want, and we wouldn’t go mad.
A Sunday match between Barcelona and Villarreal was ordained by the football gods to be the occasion for which “that” goal would be scored. After the first half, it became evident that Barca were going to win. They had been rather relentless in their pursuit of the three points. Suarez misfiring consistently and a lack of luck meant they went into the half-time break leveled on points with a Villarreal side that were as much relieved as pleased.
Then the second half came, and fifteen minutes later Barca had scored. Neymar with the goal, after latching on to a peach of a pass from the immaculate Busquests. Busquest, maybe in another post I’ll blow the horn of praise for him. What a supremely intelligent footballer he is. If the second wasn’t so special, as it was a penalty, Neymar made up for with the third. But the second goal was also the second penalty the impressive Munir had won for Barca this season. An applause for the hardworking lad. He and Sandro had received more or less equal playing time, but like many others, I believe he has taken his chance. And it looks more and more likely, that in the absence of Rakitic and Messi he will occupy the right wing position against Real Madrid in the forthcoming Clasico.
“That” goal. It all begun with a clearance from Busquests (yes him again). Somehow Neymar received the ball and headed it into the path of Suarez. The outcome was inevitable, nobody knew it would happen the way it did. The Nou Camp held her breath. For a moment Suarez became Xavi dinking an unbelievably accurate pass to Neymar. The manner in Suarez found Neymar was enough alone to leave all Barca fans going home very happy. What happened next, they (we) just were not ready for. An incredible first touch lead to the sublime control with his chest. Eyes widen as the world waited in anticipation. “What was gonna happen next?” Neymar reminded us that he is Brazilian, and for a moment the nostalgia of Ronaldinho crept over us, as we watched him confidently lift the ball over his marker – effectively deleting him from the game. He then pirouetted and met the ball with a volley that saw it nestle in the net, and make the Camp Nou roar. Somewhere on Earth, Ronaldinho nodded his head in approval. Back in the TV room here in Ghana, after what seemed an eternity of screaming with my friends, I sat back down and smiled – fully satisfied. We were scared that without Messi we wouldn’t have our weekly dose of magic. Well, who needs Messi now? 🙂