Play acting all the way

Neymar should aim to emulate the greats, not belittle their memory.

Kazan, Friday night, Brazil meet Belgium in the second quarter final of this World Cup. It’s a tasty looking fixture which has all the hallmarks of a classic.

Some huge household names will size each other up in this intriguing match. We should all be sincerely hoping that this game is remembered for the right reasons. The likes of De Bruyne, Hazard, Coutinho, Jesus and Lukaku will all have a huge chance to exhibit their credentials in Kazan. One superstar we all hope to see the right side of is the recently derided, Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.

Play acting

A truly dreadful stat emerged yesterday showing the PSG forward had spent almost a quarter of an hour, rolling around in faux agony on Russian soil this summer. That’s a third of a half of football, truly embarrassing stuff.

His recent antics against Mexico became the stuff of parody and internet memes. To be ridiculed in such a way is hardly likely to dent to thick skin of a modern millionaire footballer, however it does beg the question, is this how Neymar wants to be remembered this summer?

Huge disservice

Brazil should always be associated with football at its finest. For nearly seventy years they have set the bar so high with superstar players, fluid teams and gorgeous football, despite a few bumps along the way.

This current crop could too become immortals if they lift the World Cup and deliver a staggering sixth tittle for their nation.

Neymar should be the darling of this team. His trickery, rapid feet and wonderful finishing ability have already elevated him so very high in his career, Russia 2018 could truly be his moment.

However, so far, he has been steady, rather than wonderful. Worse, it seems that he is far more worried about riving around on the ground and looking to get his fellow pros booked. It’s not enjoyable to watch and he truly risks making a global laughing stock of himself.

It’s all a bit of an insult to the great players to have worn the famous yellow jersey. Ronaldo, Romario, Pele, Garrincha and Vava all wooed the World with their skill, audacity, and truly unique talent. Neymar could join that elite list, but risks tarnishing his name along the way.

Born and bred

While we can all snort and shake our heads collectively at Neymar’s antics there is perhaps an excuse for the forward.

He is a child of ’92 and is therefore likely to have grown up watching a game in his homeland were diving and theatrics became more and more routine. He will have seen his heros victorious in 2002 but also the darker side of their games. Moments such as Rivaldo’s now infamous dive against Turkey in the semi-final are likely to have influenced a young lad in an all too negative way.

You could say this has normalised diving and blatantly trying to get your fellow player sent off. If he knows no different how can we expect any less?

It’s also fair to say that the forward will get his fair share of nasty tackles and fouls. Sluggish or cynical defenders will be keen to stop him in his tracks before he can do any damage to the scoreline.

However Neymar could do well from taking a leaf out of Messi’s book. The Argentine has been booted and tripped more often than perhaps any other player in the game. The Barcelona forward though, simply dusts himself off and cracks on, unless he is truly hurt.

Surely this is the best way Neynar can prove himself. Yes he will likely often take a kicking, but a simple smile and shrug, before unleashing his devastating ability is surely the best way to be remembered. Better that than daft memes.

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