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Why Brazil’s over-reliance on one player, Neymar, almost cost them

Jun 28, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT

neymar Getty Images

Brazil beat Chile on penalty kicks in their last 16 clash on Saturday, as the star-studded hosts came incredibly close to being knocked out.

The host nation scrapped through to the quarterfinals but one question is reverberating in my head: where were the other star attackers to help Neymar?

[ RELATED: Brazil make quarters, beat Chile on PKs ]

Brazil’s over-resilience on the 22-year-old Barcelona forward shone through massively against Chile, as their lack of other high-caliber attacking options was clear for all to see. The youngster can’t do it all on his own.

Neymar scored four goals in the group stages and demolished the likes of Cameroon and Croatia. However, Chile locked him down and targeted the speedy winger on Saturday and Brazil’s other forwards failed to step up. Neymar aside, Brazil were sluggish in attack, failed to be dynamic and put Chile on the back foot. If Mauricio Pinilla’s shot wouldn’t have cannoned off the crossbar in the final stages, Brazil would’ve been eliminated. After a less than impressive display, the Selecao got out of jail and they know it.

Looking back at past Brazilian teams, their plethora of top-class attackers often put the fear of God into opposition teams even before kick off. At the 2002 World Cup Brazil had the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Kaka in attack and they have always seemed to rely on their wondrous attackers to dazzle opposition defenses. However this Brazilian team has no supporting act for Neymar when an opposition defense, like Chile, worked so hard to shut him down. Every time Neymar was on the ball he had two Chile players hot on his heels. He ran clear of his markers on a  handful of occasions and his pace and poise ignited the home crowd, but after one hefty challenge too many he looked to be carrying an injury and is a doubt for the quarterfinal vs. Colombia.

When you look around this current Brazilian side, Neymar is up there as a world class attacker on his own. Fred, Jo, Hulk, Oscar, Willian and others have all failed to step up to the plate so far. Although that aforementioned quintet all have considerable talent, they couldn’t unlock Chile’s defense and only have two goals between them through four games. Hulk had a good go at doing so, as he had one goal chalked off for a handball and tried hard all afternoon, but it just wasn’t happening for the bullish striker.

Going forward, Fred should not start in the last eight encounter and perhaps another midfielder such as Willian should come in to try and bolster their creativity. Bringing on Jo to replace Fred vs. Chile really didn’t make much difference as Luiz Felipe Scolari is running out of options up top.

If Brazil are going to go far in this World Cup, as over 200 million citizens hope so, they cannot solely rely on Neymar.

They got lucky with their penalty kick win over Chile, sooner rather later their luck will run out and that is when a hero is needed.

Neymar can’t do it all on his own.

  1. bishopofblunder - Jun 28, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Playing as they did today, Brazil will have a very difficult time getting by a very good Columbia side. Uruguay, without Suarez, would be an easier target for them.

    But, for us fans, Brazil v Columbia would be a cracker of a match.

  2. txbearmeat - Jun 28, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    Brazil deserved to lose today. Chile was SO close 3 or 4 times and that last PK – just Brutal the way it turned out.

  3. egb234 - Jun 29, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    Neymar is still young, and he’s obviously talented, but I am not sold on him as the type of player who can single-handedly lift his team to the World Cup. He is very good on the ball a la Zinedine Zidane, but ZZ was an assassin in front of goal–his goals were incredible. Neymar doesn’t finish or play through contact like Messi, and he’ll never be as powerful as the Cristiano Ronaldo. As much as we’ve expected him to light up Brazil, his goals have all been underwhelming and his team has struggled to beat inferior talent. In his biography he talks about taking Ayerton Senna’s seat as Brazil’s hero, but come on. Shouldn’t he worrying about surpassing Ronaldo and Ronaldihno first?

    It might be a stretch, but I think of him as Reggie Bush. He’s a great athlete who destroys competition at the lower levels. But in the bigs, he’s a satellite player–a luxury. His season at Barcelona was an eye opener. He’s not the next greatest player in the world–at least not yet.

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