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Cavani and Neymar: galacticos at war

With Los Galácticos, the star players, it's best to take each on their own. Football, which we see as so varied and fickle, isn't any different to other areas of life. In every team, just like in each zoological group, there's tension to be the dominant individual. In this case not to be the alpha male, but to be on the front page. A goal scored from the penalty spot may be worth less, but it's still a goal. To score it you have to step up, take the role of executioner, and expose yourself to failure. If you score, you're lionised, but you need to be bold and valiant to take it, because it's not a sure thing. Only three out of four, or two out of three go in. And to miss it is to expose yourself to mockery.

For both PSG penalties, Cavani got his way

Some players flee from penalties, like cats from water. More luck for the brave, or those who have something to prove, or defend. That's the case with Cavani and Neymar in the first weeks of Ligue 1 in France. PSG have had two penalties. Both have been argued over. Both times Cavani got his way. He scored one and had the other saved. If we look at the statistics, we can see both players have similar success rates from the penalty spot: 82.14% for Cavani and 80% for Neymar. To give us an idea, Cristiano Ronaldo is at 83.34% and Messi 78.35%. So they are both decent.

Neymar v Cavani at PSG

So why the battle? It's something that would test any coach. And it's happened regularly in the history of football. A player takes a penalty because they have a rush of boldness and they fancy their chances (we've seen it with Sergio Ramos) but if they are choosing to, it's because the coach hasn't previously given orders: Pepe, otherwise Luis, otherwise Felipe... The order can change because Pepe's got a sore foot and he leaves it to Luis, and if Luis isn't on the pitch then Felipe takes it. But if there's uncertainty and pushing and shoving to grab the ball, and ugly faces, its because there's a bad vibe. And if two star strikers, like Cavania and Neymar, are fighting to take a penalty, it's because something is going wrong.

Neymar and Cavani argue over who'll take the penalty