Depending upon which narrative you chose to embrace, Neymar will either look to start a Paris Saint-Germain dynasty in which he is the jewel when they face Real Madrid in the Champions League or turn in an audition to be the Santiago Bernabeu's latest galactico.
The Brazil forward was apparently motivated in part by his desire to win the Ballon d'Or when he swapped Barcelona for Paris last August and dumping the reigning European champions out at the last-16 stage would certainly do much to further his ambitions.
Madrid's reported courting of Neymar has much to do with Cristiano Ronaldo's perceived decline over recent months but the Portuguese icon appears to be coming good at just the right time.
Quietly – by his standards – Ronaldo has scored seven goals in his past four LaLiga outings and, as the business end of last season's Champions League showed, he is almost without parallel when it comes to the big occasion.
Whether Neymar is Ronaldo's future team-mate, replacement or latest rival is a debate that will run beyond this mouth-watering tie. For now, we can see how the duo's statistics stack up this season with the help of Opta data.
23 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals this season in his first 28 competitive appearances (23) than he did in 2016-17 (21), despite playing fewer minutes (2344 v 2493). Decline? pic.twitter.com/glv7vENC2L— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 12, 2018
27 – Neymar is scoring at exactly one goal per game across all competitions. Ronaldo has 23 in 28 matches after his recent spurt, although his average of a goal every 102 minutes is his least efficient return since joining Madrid in 2009.
9 – The Champions League remains Ronaldo's favoured arena. He scored in all six group games, netting nine goals to outstrip Neymar's haul by three.
5 – Both players have boosted their tally by converting five times from the penalty spot, although Ronaldo has not been forced to argue with Edinson Cavani beforehand.
188 – Ronaldo has taken on a huge number of shots on goal and has been outscored by Neymar, despite his rival only attempting 126. They have registered 72 and 58 attempts on target respectively.
14 – Neymar has laid on almost three times as many goals for his PSG team-mates than Ronaldo has managed at Madrid, with five assists. The ex-Barca favourite has created 89 chances to Ronaldo's 35.
318 – The incredible number of dribbles attempted by Neymar at home and abroad this season, with 189 completed. Ronaldo has attempted 59 and completed 35.
30 - Neymar is involved in 30 goals after only 18 Ligue 1 games played - he reached this milestone on his 37th Liga game with Barcelona. Tornado. pic.twitter.com/EEbl121TTr— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 10, 2018
Despite a diminished return against his own improbable efforts from previous years, Ronaldo remains an expert goal-getter, while Neymar is breaking new ground for himself in that regard.
The statistics concerning each player's wider performances are perhaps more instructive. Ronaldo's days of tearing off on relentless dribbles and runs appear to be fading into the past, while tormenting opponents in this fashion is second nature to Neymar, who is clearly the more adept creator of the two.
Perhaps those seeing Neymar as Ronaldo's potential replacement at Madrid are on to something when it comes to superstar appeal and marketing imperatives but missing the point in terms of matters on the field. While both are supreme forwards, they are different kinds of attackers. Neymar probably has more in common with the 26-year-old Ronaldo than this version.
The narrowing focus of Ronaldo's talents and Karim Benzema's trials as Madrid's number nine means a full-time conversion to playing as a striker makes increasing sense. Neymar remains at his best when operating across the entire canvas. They would be breath-taking in tandem and on Wednesday both men represent contrasting keys to victory.
19. September 2018
|Kane isn´t a machine – Lamela defends misfiring Spurs star|
|Hazard left out of Chelsea squad for PAOK trip|
|Tiger feels close to ending drought after achieving Tour Championship goal|
|Leno in line for Arsenal chance in Europa League|
|Gazidis leaves Arsenal in good shape, insists Emery|
|Eagles bring back WR Matthews, place Wallace on IR|
|England include Stokes, Hales and uncapped seamer Stone in ODI squad|
|Suwon Bluewings 0 Jeonbuk Motors 3 (aet, 4-2 on penalties): Quarter-final comeback ends in spot-kick|
|Australia captain Paine ready to slog it out with Pakistan|
|Nadal pulls out of China Open & Shanghai Masters with knee injury|
|Ostapenko begins Korea Open defence with victory|
|Joshua v Povetkin: How Olympic super heavyweight champions have fared|
|Liverpool ´made a point´ with PSG victory - Gomez|
|Osaka wows Tokyo crowd on WTA return|
|Excited Povetkin arrives in England for Joshua showdown|
|Kovac patience with Sanches set to reap rewards|
|Kovac: Madrid strong without Ronaldo, Messi is the best|
|ATP suspends umpire Lahyani over Kyrgios ´pep talk´ at US Open|
|North and South Korea seek to co-host 2032 Olympics|
|Ampadu signs long-term Chelsea contract|
|Don´t blame Neymar, PSG players all guilty - Thiago Silva|
|Real Madrid seek to plug Ronaldo scoring gap – Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Brewers allow Cardinals to inch closer with loss to Reds|
|Manchester is still red – Depay ahead of Lyon´s clash with City|
|Orioles become first pro team to wear braille jerseys|
|Klopp hails ´brilliant´ Henderson|
|PSG attack lacked aggression, says Tuchel|
|Atletico Tucuman 0 Gremio 2: Libertadores holders draw first blood in QFs|
|Thomas plays down wrist worry|
|Rakitic wants more from Barcelona hat-trick hero Messi|
|My players aren´t s*** – Pochettino defends Spurs squad|
|Cubs reliever Morrow won´t return this season|
|Tebow expected to be back in Mets organisation next season|
|Inter can compete against anyone – Icardi revels in Champions League victory|
|Tuchel: PSG loss to Liverpool not logical or correct|
|Sturridge in best shape I´ve seen – Klopp|
|Milojevic celebrates ´fantastic´ occasion after Red Star´s 26-year wait|
|Rodrigo and Simeone salute Griezmann display|
|Seahawks DE Clark on Bears QB Trubisky: He´s nothing special|
|Carroll says Wilson has been ´over-trying a little bit´|
|Judge returns to Yankees´ starting lineup|
|Napoli boss Ancelotti takes aim at Red Star time wasting|
|Favre admits young Dortmund stars struggled in Bruges|
|Otavio would trade goal for Porto victory as he bemoans Schalke draw|
|Championship Review: Pacesetters Leeds crush Preston, Villa end five-game winless run|
|Neymar world-class but not a defender - Klopp says Liverpool targeted PSG star|
|Waiters injury update: Heat guard unlikely to be ready for start of season|
18. September 2018
|Gojowczyk eliminates returning Tsonga in Metz|
|Liverpool enjoying best start in 57 years after PSG win|
|Galatasaray 3 Lokomotiv Moscow 0: Terim´s side make light work of Russians|
|Club Brugge 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Super sub Pulisic scores late winner|
|Schalke 1 Porto 1: Fahrmann saves one penalty, but Otavio scores another|
|Red Star Belgrade 0 Napoli 0: Points shared as Italians fail to make possession pay|
|Liverpool 3 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Firmino strikes late as Reds edge five-goal thriller|
|Monaco 1 Atletico Madrid 2: Costa and Gimenez seal comfortable win|
|Chaos reigns in Serie B as league denies suspension claim|
|India secure Asia Cup victory despite valiant Hong Kong effort|
|Messi makes "extraordinary routine", says Valverde after Barca star surpasses Ronaldo|
|Spalletti´s Inter to take heart from Tottenham turnaround|
|Casillas features in landmark 20th Champions League campaign|
|Spurs deserved more from best performance of the season - Pochettino|
|Brown absent from Steelers facility on Monday due to ´personal matter´|
|Toronto´s Bussey given eight-match biting ban|
|Barcelona 4 PSV 0: Marvellous Messi lights up Camp Nou|
|Inter 2 Tottenham 1: Icardi, Vecino complete dramatic late turnaround|
|Allegri, Chiellini defend Costa over spitting ban|
|Firmino only fit enough for bench duty|
|Kovac applauds Sanches ahead of Benfica homecoming|
|Tomlin confirms Steelers WR Brown was absent from facility on Monday|
|Mourinho tells United to follow Federer´s lead amid Young Boys pitch concerns|