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HomeWorld NewsThe World Cup could mean redemption for Brazilian striker Neymar

The World Cup could mean redemption for Brazilian striker Neymar

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When Neymar was preparing to play for Brazil in his first World Cup in 2014, the hype surrounding it was considerable.

He had just moved from Santos to Spanish club Barcelona as one of the most promising young players in the world. And he had impressed from the start with the Catalan club, quickly gaining star status in the football world.

The common questions surrounding Neymar at the time were when, not if, he would be crowned the best in the world.

However, eight years later, things have changed considerably. The Brazilian remains one of the best players in the world, but he has not fully lived up to the expectations that arose along with his high-profile move to Europe.

Neymar lost visibility after signing for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, and he has not been considered for the best player of the year awards for a long time.

His performances for Brazil at World Cups have been mostly disappointing since the 2014 tournament at home, when he was stretchered off with a back injury in the quarterfinals. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Neymar crouched on the pitch and watched in disbelief as Belgium’s players celebrated their victory over Brazil in the quarterfinals.

He was pivotal for Brazil when the country won its first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, a feat that was widely celebrated across the country and earned him widespread praise.

But at 30, the questions surrounding Neymar ahead of the World Cup in Qatar are a bit different.

Was he wrong to leave Barcelona to sign for PSG? Is he being overshadowed by Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé? Is he past his peak?

But for Neymar, the only question that really matters is whether he can make it to Brazil and lead the national team to its first World Cup title in 20 years.

“I don’t want to let this World Cup slip away from me,” Neymar said earlier this year. “I don’t want to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I’m doing everything I can to prepare for it, physically and mentally. It’s my biggest dream right now. I am focused on winning this title.”

This year’s World Cup could spell redemption for Neymar, and if he finds a way to lead Brazil to the title in Qatar, his name will most likely be back at the top of the award lists.

“I will give my life in the World Cup,” Neymar said in a chat with former Brazilian midfielder Diego Ribas. “It is a unique moment. I have been to two World Cups and now I know how it works. Everything happens very quickly, and if you are not 100%, if you are not prepared, the opportunity will pass you by”.

Neymar, who said as a youngster that it was his dream to be the best player in the world, has been on the right track again this season and is one of the leaders of a PSG team that hopes to finally win its first Champions League title. He arrives at the World Cup, which he does not rule out being his last, as one of the fittest players.

“He’s flying right now,” Brazil coach Tite said.

Neymar has apparently not been affected by the recent fraud trial regarding his 2013 transfer from Santos to Barcelona, ​​where he and his father are among those accused of concealing the true cost of the transfer. He faces a prison term of more than two years if he is convicted, although some of the charges against him have been dropped.

Tite is undoubtedly relying on Neymar to take the helm and lead Brazil in Qatar, hoping that his talent, and now his maturity, will finally make the difference and give the national team a chance to win their first title. of the World Cup since 2002, when Neymar was still only 10 years old.

And hopefully for Brazil, instead of leaving the field on a stretcher like in 2014 or watching opponents celebrate like in 2018, Neymar will end his World Cup career by lifting the trophy for his team and his people.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Azzoni stories on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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