Marcel Desailly's damning verdict of Neymar's performance vs Switzerland

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The oft-used adage, 'there's no I in team' is banded around in sport when, usually, a star or champion fails to turn up and play for the collective.

Ghanaian-born French great, Marcel Desailly, the rock-solid defender capped 116 times by France, where he helped his adoptive country win the 1998 World Cup, has written for the Guardian, that Brazilian star, Neymar needs to play for the team, rather than as an individual.

A brilliant player, Desailly is also a perceptive and concise pundit, and his observations make interesting reading.

The 49-year-old has acknowledged how 'minnows' on the international stage are no longer 'easy-beats' and have a genuine chance of upsetting the established world order in football. He referenced how even back in 2002, when France were the reigning champions, how difficult it was for them, ultimately losing to Senegal in a pool match.

"I remember we had a terrible start to the 2002 World Cup, losing to Senegal when we were the reigning world and European champions.

"In modern football all the teams are capable of getting organised and causing problems. The underdogs are not scared any more. Physically they are ready to compete with the bigger nations and now we will see if their energy levels will last and if they can repeat these performances."

Aside from liking what he sees in the Spanish team, a rusty looking France and a softly building England, his barbs were aimed at Brazil, and more accurately, Brazil's ace - Neymar.


Brazil struggled against Switzerland, lucky to come out of that clash with a draw. But as we've seen in other tournaments, Brazil's famed "Ginga" style of play can get them into a world of trouble. Ginga, famously introduced to the world stage by Pele, is born from individual skill and trickery. Things that modern defenders and midfielders can shut down more easily than back in the 1950's.

Desailly expanded further: "We saw Brazil were in difficulty in their draw against Switzerland. They have this great capacity for dribbling, of course. It is in their blood but there was too much individual play and not enough for the team. They do not play collectively."

This sense of individuality can be brilliant if the entire team is on the same wavelength, but against Switzerland, Brazil were not connected.

"They are not yet a team and I was expecting more from them. While Philippe Coutinho tended to use the ball intelligently, Willian was completely transparent.


"Neymar gave off the impression he was playing by himself. Whenever the ball came to him he slowed the game down, irrespective of whether it was the right thing to do or not.

"Because he knows he has the talent to change games, he gives the impression that he wants to be the one to do that something special. But he has to understand it is not like that at international level. He might be the greatest player, but he has to think of the collective."

Desailly concluded by suggesting Neymar needs to think more about his role as the pivotal player in the Brazilian team.

"He has to think of his teammates and play with them, using one-twos and triangles to move forward and make those differences. The one time he did that, down the left with Marcelo and Coutinho, brought about Brazil’s goal. But that was not enough."

Brazil's next game is a must win against Costa Rica on Friday afternoon.

Willian Borges da Silva
France Football
Brazil Football
Philippe Coutinho
World Cup

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