Brazil superstar Neymar is without a doubt a top player when he is on form. However, the PSG forward heading into this summer’s World Cup in Russia short of match fitness after three months sidelined through injury.
He was nowhere near his best against Switzerland in the opener. On Friday against Costa Rica, the forward experienced mixed fortunes, as the Selecao secured a 2-0 victory, with the forward scoring the second goal. Already in Brazil, we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Neymar.
As his fitness improves, we may see the best of Neymar at this summer’s World Cup. He showed a few good touches against the Central Americans. However, most important he kept going and did not give up. The forward always wanted the ball and did not hide when his team needed a goal. Neymar also took his goal well to secure the victory.
The bad and the ugly
This is so frustrating his need for theatrics. Yes, he does get fouled a lot, but the number of times he throws himself on the floor and rolls around is incredible. If he had not made it as a footballer, he would have made a good actor. He has made a few cameos in movies and TV. The way he throws himself about at times, maybe he should be on the big screen more often.
A few incidents during the game were ugly. His constant moaning towards the referee was highly noticeable. At times it seemed that Neymar believed he was refereeing the game, not the Dutch referee.
The forward was hacked down in a number of occasions, but he was always in the ear of referee Kuipers. So much so that the Dutch official actually booked the forward for dissent late in the Costa Rica game.
Neymar is a match-winner
For all the above flaws in Neymar’s game, his ability is undoubted. The forward is the sort of player who can win a game almost single-handedly. He will take on opponents, score and create goals for his team.
In a Brazil team full of stars, he is undisputed star player. In fact, he is Brazil’s talisman and has been since his late teens. Only Selecao greats Pele and Ronaldo have scored more goals in the famous canary yellow shirts of Brazil. He is the first player the fans look for when the team needs a goal or a touch of inspiration.
Neymar is a headline maker, whether that is for his skill, his theatrics or his hairstyles. However, everybody connected with the Selecao will be hoping that people are talking about his brilliance on the pitch for the next few weeks and not the negatives of his personality.
Brazil are still one of the favourites to lift the trophy in mid-July. To do that though, they need Neymar bang in form and fully. If he can display the form he showed at Barcelona and PSG in recent seasons then Neymar can have a big effect on Russia 2018.
Is Neymar at the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo?