Neymar's Brazil form under scrutiny | The Daily Star
09:14 PM, June 30, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:25 PM, June 30, 2018

Neymar's Brazil form under scrutiny

Criticised for being selfish, profligate and over-dramatic, Neymar has struggled to such an extent at this World Cup that another flop in the knockout stage, starting against Mexico on Monday, might have terminal consequences for Brazil.

While his supporters regale his past exploits and point to the foot injury he suffered in February that kept him out of the game until June and left him short on match fitness, his detractors are starting to make themselves heard.

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After three underwhelming performances, where his errors appeared to be those of a man trying to hog the limelight rather than play himself back to form and help his team, questions about his role in the side have become increasingly audible.

According to FIFA, the world's most expensive player after costing Paris St Germain 222 million euros ($259 million) last year, has attempted more dribbles than anyone else in Russia with 42, a startling 14 more than nearest rival Lionel Messi.

Yet one of the more frustrating things about watching Brazil's group games was the futility and persistence of Neymar's efforts to take players on and, unsurprisingly, the statistics paint a dismal picture of his performance.

Neymar has given the ball away 84 times at this tournament, which after Brazil's 2-0 victory over Serbia in their final group stage encounter, was 22 occasions more than any other player, according to Opta.

If the other parts of his game were all still razor sharp, he may be forgiven some occasional profligacy on the ball. Yet his wastefulness in front of goal is probably just as worrying for Brazil coach Tite as Brazil head into the knockout stages.

The 26-year-old has had 18 'goal opportunities', according to FIFA, more than anyone else at the tournament, and yet scored once. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo has had 10 and scored four.

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