At 22 years of age and weighing just 64kg, the slender young frame of Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior carries much of the burden of an expectant Brazilian public, but can he deliver?
Two footed, skillful, brave and quick Neymar has all the qualities of the Archetypal Brazilian player.
Barcelona's record £71 million signing has already shown his class on the international stage in Brazil, leading the Seleção to Confederations Cup glory in 2013. Scoring four sublime goals in the process as well as winning the golden ball as the tournaments best player. Far from being overwhelmed by the pressure Neymar thrived upon it and dazzled form start to finish. The question now is can he replicate his Confederations Cup form on the biggest stage of all.
Brazil head to the World Cup amongst the favourites and rightly so. They boast a squad blessed with attacking flair in abundance as well as the solidity offered by the likes of Thiago Silva.
However, their star man has had a far from smooth transition to life in his new Catalan home. Since joining Barcelona Neymar has failed to live up to a price tag that has been on the rise since the club was accused of tax fraud in relation to the deal. It remains to be seen how a season in which he has scored just 15 times in 41 appearances and struggled to adapt to the more physical nature of European football has affected his confidence.
The Neymar of Barcelona has been a shaddow of the player who illuminated the Brasileirão for Santos where he scored 136 times in 225 games in all competitions. It is of the utmost importance to acknowledge the fact that Brazil's answer to Messi played second fiddle to the man himself for much of the season and he has seemed far more at home in the national setup where he has been played in his preferred inside left position.
Now cemented as Brazil's number 10 the onus is on Neymar to lead Brazil to their sixth world crown and a former great Brazilian 10 believes he has the quality to do so. Zico who was a member of the famous Brazil side of 1978 and 1982 Brazil side who failed to win the World Cup last week stated that Neymar was "the greatest player in Brazilian football at the moment". High praise indeed.
In many respects though Zico's assessment shows what this Brazilian squad consists of, a robust side with quality that lacks the sparkle of previous teams. There is no Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho trinity of Scolaris previous World Cup winning squad of 2002. This places greater emphasis on Neymar to produce the football that Brazil is famous for and also suggests that Brazil may need to perform more in the mold of the Dunga led side of 1994, in which flair was subdued and solidity promoted.
This idea of solidity is epitomised by Scolaris preference to operate with one forward in the the form of the unglamorous and strong Fred. The Fluminense man is a prolific and neat finisher and is worthy of his place but he is not in the typical style of a Brazilian frontman. The only other recognised striker in the squad is Jo, formally of Manchester City and this again highlights the expectancy for Neymar to deliver not only flair but goals at Brazil 2014.
Whether or not Neymar and Brazil can capture glory and immortality on home soil remians to be seen but it is certain that if they are to do so their talismanic wide man will need to be at his best.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: https://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms