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Neymar-Ronaldo Duel Main Course as Zidane's Real Host Paris' Glamour Boys

If Samantha Flores, a British woman, headlining the 2018 Rio Carnival is unusual, so is the fact that the Santiago Bernabeu hasn’t been packed to the rafters once Real Madrid began their quest for a third UEFA Champions League title with Zinedine Zidane at the helm of affairs.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:February 14, 2018, 9:18 AM IST
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Neymar-Ronaldo Duel Main Course as Zidane's Real Host Paris' Glamour Boys
Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane (Getty Images)
New Delhi: If Samantha Flores, a British woman, headlining the 2018 Rio Carnival is unusual, so is the fact that the Santiago Bernabeu hasn’t been packed to the rafters once Real Madrid began their quest for a third UEFA Champions League title with Zinedine Zidane at the helm of affairs.

Rare has been an occasion when the French maestro hasn’t walked alongside his reputation during his playing days, and currently he is having one of those days, albeit from the dugout. The message at the Santiago Bernabeu is clear for Zidane’s gang. If the clamour for tickets ahead of the contest against the nouveau riche Paris Saint-Germain is to present a sense of the expectation, only a carnival-esque show will keep the shrilly whistles away.

Across the Pyrenees, in Paris a Qatari fuelled superstar bandwagon (PSG) is preparing to be, ironically, party poopers on Valentine’s Day. Since Neymar swapped Barcelona for Paris, his task has been to conduct the orchestra. If the Ligue 1 is the Royal Albert Hall – he is a regular feature onstage. PSG have outplayed anyone and everyone domestically, and are desperate to bring home the big ears.

Neymar, who once courted Real Madrid before becoming a thorn in their skin, is afforded the privileges he is, just so the UEFA Champions League title comes to Paris. The 26-year old broke Parisian hearts last year and on Ash Wednesday 2018 his moment of truth has arrived.

Ronaldo and Marcelo believe Neymar and Real Madrid is a match made in heaven, but hold that thought because if he is anything but his vivacious self, the opinions could change.

Post the eventful summer of 2017 the road taken and forced on to for either party has been like two sides to a coin. Real Madrid, notwithstanding their own array of shining stars have taken more than a beating, however, Paris Saint-Germain have had it so easy, that their talisman could be on one leg and it would go unnoticed.

Speaking of talismanic characters, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo has cleaned up his act in the recent weeks, and has been wary of the script in Europe. But a repeat of the Houdini act will stir the pot and the Bernabeu faithful is not akin to exercising their vocal chords when they need to make a point. Ronaldo might be Madeira’s favourite son and Florentino Perez’s most prized but forget the steps is something he cannot afford to do.

The over-arching theme with the record breaking Ronaldo has been quality and not quantity in the recent years. On his day, Gigi Buffon would tell you, the Portuguese captain is unstoppable, but an off day as much of a rock bottom.

The battle royale that will commence in the Spanish capital is undoubtedly the perfect way to end the mid-week festivities and throwing in the towel early would be a cardinal sin.

Real Madrid’s performances overall in 2017/18 have been a far cry as compared to Zidane’s first full season in charge. The defense has been very welcoming to all visitors and the front men have played their part too. PSG, in stark contrast have been rather unwelcoming at home and far from courteous on their travels.

It took all of 37 minutes for the Santiago Bernabeu to be sold out, but on the day the hosts will have to shut shop because the Parisians won’t wait for a second opportunity to knock down the door and gate crash. Apart from Neymar, a Los Blancos old boy Angel di Maria might have a point to make to Florentino Perez and he has already fired the shots.

A stressful day at the office awaits Zinedine Zidane and his men as they have their backs to the wall. Captain Sergio Ramos has called for the full force of the faithful, while Ronaldo was his usual pompous self when he scolded them at one point over the weekend.

Zidane’s managerial stock will fluctuate on the basis of whether the hat-trick dream stays alive, and as for his talisman Cristiano Ronaldo he needs to ensure it doesn’t get frosty at home.

Neymar knows what it is like to not be welcomed with open arms in Madrid, though he’d like that for sure. But for now, he will settle for some warmth in Doha.

The Samba schools at the Rio Carnival are wrapping up a wee bit earlier than usual, all for Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain and it would be a pity if anyone were to be dealt a damaging blow.

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| Edited by: Baidurjo Bhose
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