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Real using charm offensive to distract Neymar from UCL tie -- for now

Real using charm offensive to distract Neymar from UCL tie -- for now
From ESPN - February 12, 2018

La Liga president Javier Tebas declared that Neymar had not only peed in the pool when he left Barcelona last summer, but he "got on the diving board" to do so.

It was Neymar's own ambitions that forced him to consider and ultimately follow through on the move to Paris Saint-Germain, though, rather than some desire to hurt La Liga. And those same ambitions can be worked on by Real Madrid in the buildup to their Champions League matchup with PSG on Wednesday night, as every quote, comment and story does more to take the Brazilian's focus off the actual game.

Tebas was speaking like a scorned lover who had just been walked out on, and the reason his message was so bitter was because Neymar mattered. He mattered regarding how La Liga sold themselves around the world, and he would eventually take over as the league's poster boy, too, which seemed inevitable if he stayed. There is talk now of a La Liga lull in the Champions League as English clubs take back the reins from their Spanish counterparts after years of dominance.

Neymar has one or two more daggers in his repertoire, however, and he could do further damage to Spanish football if he can overcome the battle between his Paris Saint-Germain side and Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid. And this is why Los Blancos are trying to do everything they can to unsettle the Brazilian. PSG manager Unai Emery has responded by deciding that PSG will not train at the Bernabeu before the game, perhaps thinking there's no need to give it any more importance than it already has.

Real Madrid players and management have not been bashful regarding how important this clash is, and Zinedine Zidane admits the game could well decide his future; they will also pull out all the stops to win it with mind games already in full swing, with Marcelo dishing out one particularly stinging blow: "PSG are in a good moment, that's evident," he said. "They have a really good team, an excellent squad. And Madrid have their history and tradition." Not exactly a ringing endorsement for his side's current form, but his sentiments are that regardless of how Real Madrid's form looks, they can never be counted out.

It's not a stretch to suggest Real Madrid have dominated the Champions League in recent years. Many even refer to it as Real Madrid's competition, as if you need any more intimidation coming into their home in an effort to take what they believe is theirs. They have won it in three of the past four years, and now Real Madrid are relying on some extra motivation that the Champions League brings them back to how they were once viewed around Europe.

"In my opinion, the great players have to play at this club. And I think Neymar will play for Real Madrid one day," continued Marcelo as he peppered further speculation on Neymar's future. The insinuation, of course, is that PSG are not a great club -- certainly not of the same ilk as Los Blancos at least.

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