Neymar has named England among his favourites for the World Cup as he looks to lead Brazil to glory.
The South American nation are many people’s pick to win the tournament in Qatar as they aim to end a two decade wait for a World Cup victory. Neymar has failed to lead Brazil past the semi-finals in his two efforts so far as he aims to follow in the footsteps of idols Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.
Brazil have been put into a group alongside Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon and are expected to easily negotiate their way into the knockout stages. There they will encounter heavyweight opponents and Neymar has highlighted France, Argentina, Germany, England and Belgium as his country’s main rivals.
England and world champions France head to the Middle East in poor form, but have enjoyed success in previous tournaments. The Three Lions have made the semi-finals and a final in their past two tournaments but recently endured a poor Nations League campaign.
Argentina, who saw off Brazil in the Copa America final last summer, are in the midst of a lengthy unbeaten run and will be hoping to win their first World Cup since 1986 in what will be Lionel Messi‘s final tournament.
Brazil scored eight times in their last two games as they secured successive wins to remain primed before the World Cup. Neymar has underlined the need to prepare correctly for the tournament, especially given its unique placement in the middle of the season.
Speaking to Esquire , Neymar said: “Losing is never easy in football, but at a World Cup it’s worse. That’s why you have to do the preparation right, be 100 percent right physically and mentally.
“The preparation for this World Cup is better than usual because it’s coming in the middle of the season, where you’re at your best physically. Players can be tired for tournaments at the end of a season and so I think the level of this World Cup is going to be very high.”
Brazil boss Tite has underlined the talismanic status of the PSG forward: “Neymar is Neymar. He remains our biggest star. The difference now is that the glow is diluted by nearby stars that can also shine. Neymar’s greatness is that he understands this – about the growth of these kids. He encourages the boys to go up a level. Time and experience provide this maturity.”
He also added: “I’m expectant but focused. We reached the World Cup; now it’s time to reach the final and be champions. This is the truth.”
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