Bayern Munich defender David Alaba has explained why he rushed to console Neymar after the Champions League final.
While his team-mates sunk to the ground or sprinted off in celebration, Alaba went straight to his beaten opponent at the full-time whistle after a 1-0 win.
Neymar had chances to score for PSG, denied more than once by Manuel Neuer, and he made little attempt to disguise his disappointment after the game.
Alaba was applauded for his sportsmanship in the moment, and he said he recognised the burden Neymar carried as one of his side’s star players.
“It turned out that way. He's a player who has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, who carries a large burden, who carries the whole club," Alaba said on the FC Bayern Podcast.
Alaba said it wasn’t just the way Neymar played, but the fact he does so with a smile on his face. "That's important,” he added. “We all love these athletes.”
As gracious in victory as Alaba may have been, Neymar didn’t quite manage to repay the favour, mistakenly congratulating ‘Bayer’ – perhaps confusing the Bavarians with Bayer Leverkusen – as the dust settled.
It didn’t dull the Bayern celebrations. After already lifting the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, Alaba said the feeling of completing the treble was one “which cannot be described. We are very happy and grateful that we can celebrate this triumph.”
Alaba’s suggestion that Neymar carried PSG – particularly with Kylian Mbappe putting in a disappointing performance on the night – perhaps rang true with PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, who bemoaned his side’s reliance on their key men.
“We've lacked efficiency,” Tuchel told RMC Sport after the game. “We want Kylian and Neymar to score all the time. I'm proud because Ney had another amazing game. He showed his abilities, his mentality.
“For Kiki, it’s difficult. It was a miracle that he was with us [after injury]. Small details made the difference.
"It was a real fight! We gave our all, we left our hearts on the field. We couldn’t control the outcome. It was a goal that made the difference between two super strong teams. I'm very proud of the way we played, of our mentality. That's all a coach can ask of his players.
“I'm disappointed, but not too disappointed. It's a close score. I'm convinced that if we score first, we win the game 1-0.”