Sports

Neymar Gives Philippe Coutinho The Treatment As The Latter Turns 26

Neymar Gives Philippe Coutinho The Treatment As The Latter Turns 26

Few players have the weight of an expectant nation on their shoulders like Neymar. They lost in the quarter-finals.

Brazil couldn't deliver when they were the hosts but with Neymar back and the attack firing on all cylinders, this could certainly be their year. Brazil shines under the bright lights more often than not.

But while that might make you think that they're something of a New England Patriots/Golden State Warriors/Evil Empire of the sport, this team is undeniably likable.

Everyone remembers the 7-1 drubbing in the semifinals, but there were signs pointing toward a defensive meltdown before then. While playing for Paris Saint-Germain in France's Ligue 1 back in February, Neymar suffered a foot fracture. That faith was repaid in double-quick time: Brazil embarked on an eight-match winning run, becoming the first team to book their place in Russian Federation.

His fellow attackers Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho also scored in a match where Brazil dominated Austria that has been on an eight match unbeaten streak.

"I've been waiting for this moment since the start of the season and I don't want anything to mess it up", he said at Brazil team's training ground in Sochi. The players have really got behind the way he works, which has allowed him to implement his footballing philosophy. It is a lot easier to run when you are not burdened with the hopes of more than 200 million people. The Real Madrid midfielder is the driving force behind the side.

Rivaldo, who played 74 times for his country, told the Evening Standard that Neymar can continue his recent form and help Brazil progress through the competition. Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho bagged the other goals.

The depth in attacking options is vast, though, with Taison, Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa all capable of jostling for a position in the starting XI.

Football- Holland v Spain FIFA World Cup Final- South Africa 2010- Soccer City Stadium Johannesburg South Africa- 11/7/10 Andres Iniesta scores the first goal for Spain under pressure from Holland's Rafael Van Der Vaart Mandatory Credit Action Imag
Andres Iniesta scored the goal which won the World Cup for Spain in 2010. Action Images via Reuters Andrew Boyers

Brazil has always been the juggernaut of worldwide soccer, having won six World Cups over the years - more than any other country on the planet.

His nickname dates back to that time: he went by Ade until Scolari, mixing him up with another youngster, introduced him as Tite.

The Brazilians made the journey with their confidence boosted after Neymar marked his first start in more than three months by scoring in the victory over the Austrians in Vienna. This, after all, is a manager who has never managed outside Brazil, let alone in one of Europe's top leagues. Now 34, he is currently winding down his career with Cruzeiro.

The Brazilian is a once in a generation player and is a future ballon d'or victor.

Brazil practiced for the first time in Sochi on Tuesday and allowed local fans to attend the training session.

Neymar has space to breathe.

Judging by the way Tite's exciting side qualified for the World Cup and how they've performed in warm-ups, this time around Brazil are ready for anything thrown their way.


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