#PrayForBarcelona - Neymar leads Ligue 1 tributes

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The Brazilian superstar wowed the nation on his highly-anticipated home debut on an emotional evening with attentions focused on his former home

It has been a week of great emotion for Neymar – both positive and negative.

There was the great low of the Barcelona terrorist attacks. The 25-year-old may have departed the Catalan city for Paris Saint-Germain, but it is clear that it remains a place very dear to his heart. It was little surprise, then, that he posted an emotive note on Instagram about the tragedy that struck Las Ramblas on Thursday.

 

Que Deus conforte todas as famílias #PrayForBarcelona te quiero BARCELONA

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“May God comfort all the families,” he said. “#PrayForBarcelona. I love you BARCELONA.”

As if to emphasise that, he shed tears prior to PSG’s home fixture against Toulouse – his home debut for the Parisian side.

On the field, things could barely have gone any smoother for the €222 million summer signing, who proved himself one of the elite players in the world game with a performance of startling quality. After his side fell a goal behind, he drove them forward and reacted quickly to grab a deserved equaliser.

In celebration, he paid tribute to Blaise Matuidi, an icon of PSG who has just been sold to Juventus, by coping his ‘charo’ dance. It was a gesture that won him a good deal of respect from the home crowd. After the match, he posted a photo of the moment on his Instagram account, tagging the midfielder, who was watching on from the stands.

 

@blaisematuidiofficiel

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Any lingering doubters in the home crowd would be fully converted by the end of the match, in which Neymar played a starring role. By full-time, he had two goals, two assists and had won a penalty that Edinson Cavani converted.

It was one of the all-time performances at the Parc des Princes. It is already apparent that he has settled easily into Parisian life, and he has been helped by a contingent of Brazilians, including attacker Lucas Moura, who missed the weekend’s match due to injury.

Nevertheless, the pair enjoyed some time together earlier in the week, when Neymar paid tribute to his countryman. “True friendship is not inseparable,” he said. “It is to be apart and nothing changes.”

Neymar's coutnry clearly means a great deal to him and, after suffering heartbreak at World Cup 2014, it meant a tremendous amount that they could bounce back and claim Olympic gold in Rio two years later.

Given that was the only major footballing prize the Samba nation had failed to win, it was celebrated raucously and Neymar was quick to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the historical triumph on Instagram before turning out for PSG on Sunday.

Remembering the aftermath of the 5-4 win on penalties over Germany, the side that inflicted so much pain on the Selecao two years earlier, he posted: “20.08.2016 ... ‘At that moment I had mixed feelings - I wanted to scream, jump, run, embrace my team-mates, people I love, people I don’t know .. I wanted to do everything, but I just managed to cry .. thank you. God, For transforming our tears into joy.’”

Perhaps that was why his display was so inspired at the Parc des Princes, where he proved untouchable. Not that it surprised one Guingamp player who had already come up against him in Ligue 1.

“I told you so,” Tweeted Lucas Deaux, who had the unenviable job of trying to contain the Brazilian a week earlier. After that match, he told the media: “Good luck to the other teams in the league!”

 

@dejesusoficial #TBT

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On the evidence of Neymar’s first two appearances, they’ll need it – but on the evidence of the Throwback Thursday video he tagged himself in with Gabriel Jesus, it’s better for the world he became a footballer and not a singer!

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