Neymar Yet To Shine

BC26Diego Maradona blieves Neymar has failed to live up to expectations in the early stages of the World Cup.

The Barcelona player, who has been dubbed as Brazil’s poster boy for the competition, scored two goals in his side’s 3-1 win over Croatia in their opening game. However, he failed to make an impact against Mexico, according to the former Argentina international.

“Neymar, with a new hairstyle, failed to live up to his billing against Mexico,” Maradona stated in his column for TOI. ”He is the hope for Brazil to win the ’hexa’ [their sixth World Cup title].

“Brazil have not been that convincing and they are depending too much on Neymar. Whenever they play against an organised team, they face these problems.”

“The second goalless draw of the tournament makes their last group match against Cameroon an interesting one.

“It clearly indicates that they need some individual brilliance from their saviour. At Estadio Castelao Fortaleza, this spark never came.”

Brazil needed a win to confirm their place in the second round. But Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa stood between them and three points.

“Mexico defended with a number of players. They had most of their men behind and near the ball whenever it entered their half. There was no room for the Brazilians to manoeuvre.”

“Most of their efforts on goal came from high balls and Ochoa dealt with them like a man possessed. The first effort to block Neymar’s header was as good as any.”

The former Argentina international was also critical of Ramires, who replaced Hulk in coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s starting XI, suggesting that the Chelsea man’s lack of discipline can hinder his chance of progressing in the first team.

“Hulk’s injury gave Ramires a chance to cement his place in the XI but he picked up a yellow card before the break to send a message to Scolari that he should consider taking him off.

“The Chelsea midfielder has this knack for receiving yellow cards. Scolari replaced him at the break.” Maradona was quick to credit Mexico and believed they deserved to take a point from the game.

“Normally, Oscar is a player to watch but he, too, found it impossible to break open the organised Mexican defence. Mexico clearly wanted a point.

“Mexico played accordingly, crowding their own half and defending like a pack of wolves. The coordination between their defenders was almost perfect and some of the tackles were brilliant.”

They moved up when the opportunity came, although the Brazilian defenders, especially Thiago Silva, had a good game to deny them possession and space near the penalty area.

As a result, they had to shoot from distance and none but one shot in the dying minutes was on target. “Nevertheless, their defensive strategy was effective and got them a point.”

The 1986 World Cup winner has not been impressed with the hosts so far and believes that European teams, especially Germany, have shown the most promise in the early stages of the tournament. —

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