Neymar’s otherworldly pass for Mbappe goal must be seen to be believed

Champions League football returned for the 2022/23 season. And it didn’t take Neymar Jr. long to leave his mark and truly kick it off in style on matchday 1.

The 30-year-old has looked unstoppable for Paris this season so far, with a total of 16 goal involvements (nine scored and seven assisted) across his eight outings including last night.

Hosting Juventus in their Group H opener, Paris Saint Germain started as favorites. But the French Ligue 1 champions had to pull out the big guns on the field to register a 2-1 win. And it all started with that absurd of a football pass from the number 10. Here, have a look at it. Over, and over again.

Sensational, isn’t it? Right from the run that originates near the half way line on the left channel. But let’s try and break it down to identify the several movements that led to the goal.

As soon as Neymar receives the ball from Presnel Kimpembe, the nearest Juventus player to him is former PSG player, Adrien Rabiot, who played as the right sided midfielder in Juventus’ classic 3-5-2 formation on the night. Rabiot makes a move from his more central position towards the left channel, trying to stop the PSG winger from spreading menace. It is here that Neymar cuts inside, moving farther away from Rabiot and closer to the Italian team’s centre pivot and another PSG player as long as a week ago, Leandro Paredes.

Neymar approaching Mbappe from a central position for the latter to make a run into the box. (@PremLeaguePanel)

It is worth noting that Mbappe has dropped deeper during this time period, positioning himself closer to his Brazilian forward partner as he cut inside, looking for a pass. But Neymar instead, goes for centre midfielder Vitinha, who is surrounded by the opposition players from three directions except the pass’. With the 22-year-old running towards the left flank to avoid the opposition players around him, PSG’s number 10 and number 7 have swapped their positions, with Mbappe now stationed wide and Neymar as the central player of the attacking line.

As soon as Neymar received the ball, Mbappe used that pace of his to run into the box to receive the Brazilian’s delicious lob pass. (@PremLeaguePanel)

Vitinho passes to Mbappe, the latter facing right towards Neymar who is standing in the heart of Juventus’ backline and midfield. This is where the duo leave half of the opposition players bamboozled and unable to make a move. The French forward takes a couple of slow steps to his left, towards the goal line, giving ample of time to Neymar as he runs in towards him and away from the goal. Almost like a false nine does.

By the time he collects the ball, Mbappe has already started doing his toughest job in the entire play, to make a run inside the box. The Juve players are frozen and unable to commit to a challenge before Neymar lobs the ball over the defensive line and into the box for his incoming teammate, who swats it home the first time. 1-0, PSG.

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