Brazil suffered a relatively early exit from FIFA World Cup in Russia, losing out to a superior Belgium side in the quarter-final stage. The fallout of their exit saw starman Neymar take most of the flack for their poor showing at the World Cup, mostly due to his constant theatrics and diving.
It was a disappointing showing by Brazil, a team who had a score to settle with the world after humiliation in 2014 when they lost 7-1 to an even more superior side – Germany.
It was a dark day for Brazilian football, and there have been too many of late.
Disappointing Copa America exits, bad World Cup results and reports of corruption among Brazilian officials have led many to conclude that Brazilian football is passed its glory days. For so long they had such a strong grip on football, with a record five World Cup titles to its name and a joint five Ballon d’Or triumphs.
But it now seems that the glory days of Kaka, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo, all leading the line for Brazil, won’t be returning anytime soon. This was glaringly evident in Russia.
Neymar is very much a jewel in the rough. For a country so famous for producing superstars and footballing magicians, Brazil’s squad at the World Cup was painfully average, slightly better than 2014, but that doesn’t say much.
Neymar almost seems to carry Brazil on his shoulders at times. His impressive statistics for both club and country are worthy of a player who should be much more than just a fall guy for Brazil’s disappointing tournament.
And for a player whose dream is to lift Ballon d’Or and call it his own, time truly is running out. It was his primary reason for leaving Barcelona where he thrived with goals and trophies aplenty.
However, the presence of Lionel Messi meant he was always playing second fiddle to the game’s number one player, a Merlin to Arthur scenario.
No matter what Neymar did, Messi was number one in the land.
So, now all eyes turn to his transfer to PSG, as this team now seems to be his only hope of winning Ballon d’Or. He’s pretty much the top dog there, and top betting sites have PSG among the favorites for the Champions League, a trophy that may just guarantee a place on the Ballon d’Or podium for Neymar.
For a player so talented, hailing from a country with such a rich individual and collective history, the pressure is always on.
Incessant comparisons to Brazilian greats Pele and Ronaldinho have set a benchmark for his career, and while he might one day become Brazil’s all-time top scorer, he might not have the trophies or individual success to be mentioned in the same breath with them.
The 2022 World Cup might just be his last chance to lift the World Cup trophy. With young talents like Arthur and Richarlison coming through the ranks, maybe 2022 will be Brazil’s and Neymar’s year, but till then, Paris Saint-Germain is his best chance of salvaging a career that seems to be running faster than him.