2017 International Champions Cup
  • Giorgio Chiellini (63')
  • Neymar (15', 26')

Neymar scores twice as Barcelona defeat Juventus in ICC

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Neymar showed exactly why Paris Saint-Germain would be willing to pay his €222 million buyout clause by scoring two stunning goals in Barcelona's 2-1 International Champions Cup win over Juventus.

Barca arrived in the United States on Wednesday and have spent the majority of their time since fending off questions about Neymar's future and a possible move to France. Ernesto Valverde, Sergio Busquets, Jasper Cillessen and Sergi Roberto have all been in the firing line as the press pinged questions at them about the Brazilian. The stock answer, more or less, has been the same: Neymar is a Barca player.

At MetLife Stadium on Saturday, he was Barca's best player as the Valverde era began with a win.

It was clear from the start that Juve right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner was not his equal. The Swiss defender had already been dropped twice by Neymar before he even opened the scoring.

Fed by Lionel Messi -- who, judging by the shirts in the stadium and the regular chants of 'Messi,' the majority of the 82,104 crowd had come to see -- Neymar exchanged a neat one-two with Paco Alcacer before bending the ball brilliantly around Gianluigi Buffon.

That was good for a starter, but what followed 11 minutes later was sublime. Another precision pass from Messi set him free -- does he really want to leave those passes behind? -- but there was still a lot to be done. Not too much, though, as Neymar glided inside from the left, leaving four Juve defenders on the floor with a variety of stuttering skills before beating Buffon again.

His work done, he was withdrawn at half-time as Valverde made 11 changes on his debut as Barca boss, but not before coming close to completing a hat trick. Messi was the architect again, but this time Buffon stood big to deny Neymar a third goal from the Argentine's scooped pass.

Massimiliano Allegri won't be too disheartened by the way Juventus were taken apart in the opening 45 minutes, though. Just four of the Juve team that began June's Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid started here, with another five -- Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves have since left the club -- on the bench along with new signing Douglas Costa.

That inexperienced starting lineup meant Allegri was able to gradually improve his side as the game progressed. The introduction of Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado -- coupled Valverde's avalanche of changes -- helped the Italian side get back into the game.

Adrian Ortola had already been forced into a fine save from Dybala when Juve pulled a goal back, Giorgio Chiellini barging in at the far post between Nelson Semedo and Marlon Santos to thump a header into the back of the net.

Chances then began to flow. Denis Suarez missed two good ones for Barca -- blazing one over and then drawing a save from Wojciech Szczęsny -- and Higuain swept over for Juve.

Considering this was the first game of preseason for both sides, it was played at a good pace. Both Allegri and Valverde will have little to complain about. Juve certainly didn't hold back -- there were crunching challenges from Stefano Sturaro and Claudio Marchisio -- and Barca worked hard for their new boss, pressing intelligently, most notably through Messi.

But for once it wasn't Messi who made the headlines in New Jersey. Like he has been doing for most of the week, albeit for other reasons, it was Neymar, who produced a performance which suggests he doesn't have to leave Camp Nou to become recognised as the world's best player in the future.