The World Cup has seen two stars rise above all the rest, in Neymar and Lionel Messi. Neymar brought to the hosts to the verge of the semi-finals before injury has ruled him out of the remainder of the tournament. Messi’s genius has been the only highlight of a laborious Argentine campaign that has seen the Barcelona player the difference between qualification to the knockout stages and possible elimination. But while Messi’s greatness seems linked to emulating the glory of Diego Armando Maradona, Neymar has been catapulted to world cup sensation.
For all the fancy flicks, step-overs and goals, Neymar remains a star among mediocre talent that would fail to get into a Brazilian team in any other era. He is the star simply because there is no other star on show in distinctive yellow shirt. In the past two winning World Cup squads, A Seleção had the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo (2002) and Leonardo, Dunga, Romario and Bebeto (1994). In 2014, there is none.
Neymar, for all his ability, has so far failed to become a star at club level. Eclipsed by Messt at club level, the Brazilian has been relegated to cameo appearances for Blaugrana. He has yet to provide the moments of magic which we have been accustomed to seeing from Messi on a weekly basis. Yet most questions at the world cup have centered around the diminutive Argentine with most suggesting he will not compare with the greatness of Maradona unless he lifts the World’s most coveted trophy.
Messi has shown his class. A World Cup winners medal would just reassert what everyone knows. He is the greatest player of the current generation of footballers. Neymar on the other hand has not, and due to injury will not get the chance to. If the likes of Romario, Bebeto or the three Rs had the chances Neymar has had, Brazil would have been comfortable in their games thus far.
Neymar hasn’t lived up to his World Class billing in any tournament so far, be it for club or country and he has a long way to go before he does. His elbow in the opening game against Croatia shows immaturity that Messi hasn’t shown. His willingness to dive under the slightest touch is another reason why he has not reached the world class level. As yet he will not emulate the likes of the three Rs or Bebeto and Romario from the 1994 side. Brazil are crying out for someone to bring back the gold trophy to the home of football. The wait will go on.