x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Confederations Cup: Brazil's Neymar still has a lot to prove

Barcelona's high-profile recruit is yet to thrill for the hosts' national team, reports Tales Azzoni.

Brazilian forward Neymar was booed by his home fans during a recent friendly with Chile. Sebastiao Moreira / EPA
Brazilian forward Neymar was booed by his home fans during a recent friendly with Chile. Sebastiao Moreira / EPA

SAO PAULO // As the player carrying Brazil's hopes for a Fifa World Cup title at home, Neymar is expected to attract much of the attention at the Confederations Cup.

After his high-profile transfer to Barcelona this summer, the scrutiny is only likely to increase.

The 21-year-old striker made headlines across the globe by choosing Barcelona over Real Madrid a few weeks ago, and the Confederations Cup will be his first tournament as the latest attraction of the Catalan club.

He will join Lionel Messi and his new teammates after the World Cup warm-up tournament, but first will try to prove that he can also play up to his potential with the national team.

"It's a dream come true to play with players like Messi, Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, Adriano, Daniel Alves," Neymar said. "I'm anxious for that day to arrive but right now I need to focus on the Confederations Cup. I want to win this title for Brazil."

Despite all the attention surrounding Neymar's transfer, he has not been receiving much praise in Brazil recently, especially because of his disappointing performances with the Selecao.

He was loudly jeered by home fans after playing poorly in a 2-2 draw in a friendly with Chile.

"Nobody likes to be booed, but I don't really care," Neymar said recently. "I know what I can do."

His prowess has been on display more often than not with Santos, the club he thrived with since he started playing professionally, in 2009. But with Brazil he has experienced more disappointment than success.

The Confederations Cup will be the third significant competition for Neymar with the national team, and so far he has failed to provide the spark everyone expected from him.

Neymar helped Brazil's Under 20 squad win the South American championship in 2011, but his first test with the senior team was the 2011 Copa America, when Brazil were eliminated by Paraguay in the quarter-finals.

"It's a dream to be playing for Brazil, and I know it's a big responsibility," Neymar said.

The second was in the 2012 London Olympics, when he was the star of the Brazil squad expected to win a first Olympic gold in football. But Neymar struggled in the final and Brazil were left with the silver after a loss to Mexico at Wembley Stadium.

Brazil at a glance

Fifa world ranking 22

Qualified Host nation

Best Confederations Cup result winners 1997, 2005, 2009

Other major honours World Cup winners: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002. South American champions: 1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari

Prospects As host nation and because of the demands of the Brazilian public, the pressure will be on Brazil to win the tournament and complete a quartet of Confederations Cup successes. Scolari’s main priority is next year’s World Cup finals, but he will be looking to improve on his team’s opening six matches under his tenure which have yielded one win, four draws and a defeat. Scolari led Brazil to victory in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. They are joint favourites to win it along with the world champions Spain and it would be a major surprise if they failed to qualify for the knockout rounds from Group A.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE