2018 has been a year in which Neymar has received a heavy amount of criticism and most of it has completely ignored how well the Brazilian forward has actually played throughout the year. The majority of criticism revolving around Neymar this year has arisen due to his over-exaggerations to being fouled and targeted at the 2018 World Cup. For Neymar, it’s been sad to see that footballing fans around the world have been using this as a reason as to why he is somehow a worse footballer than he used to be. The ironic thing is that the claims of him over-exaggerating at the world cup have been largely over-exaggerated. They have also been cruel, malicious, unjustified and worst of all, have ignored the fact that Neymar actually tore apart every opposition defense he came up against at the tournament.
There is no disputing that Neymar embellished many of the fouls that he received at the World Cup, but that does not make those fouls any less impactful – they were still fouls. Obviously the rolling on the floor is something that nobody wants to see but I’d argue that Neymar very much had his reasons for “over-exaggerating” the fouls that he received at the 2018 World Cup. Neymar is a player who was kneed in the back by a Colombian named Juan Zuniga so hard at the 2014 World Cup that he missed Brazil’s semi-final – yes the historic semi-final in which his country were thrashed 8-2 by Germany. On top of that, he was fouled more than 5 times per game, including what must be on the verge of being a record – being fouled 10 times by Switzerland in their opening match.In this instance Switzerland were clearly targeting him and it worked as they held Brazil to a draw. But as best you can, picture being fouled 10 times in a single match in any sport. I can guarantee that by the fifth or sixth time, you’d start to exaggerate too. But the thing is, no other player simply can accumulate fouls like Neymar can. His footwork and ball control is unlike any other player out there and it’s no wonder why opposition players feel the need to take him down rather than winning the ball fairly. The number of fouls that he embellishes may actually be minimal when you look at the grand scheme of the number he actually achieves. Perhaps it just looks bigger when you compare it against the fact that he is constantly being caught by his opponents practically every time he goes on a run.
In actuality and in spite of the criticism, the Brazilian forward was exceptional at the World Cup, winning more fouls than anyone else as already mentioned, but also creating a stunning 23 chances in just 5 appearances. He scored 2 goals with 1 assist in his 5 matches, and only Isco, Messi, Hazard and Mbappe completed more take-on’s than the Brazilian at the tournament. We also can’t forget that his performances at the World Cup came just weeks after recovering from a broken foot – which by the way is an injury that takes more than two months to heal even with the best physiotherapists in the world by your side.
Since the World Cup, the 26-year old has been brilliant throughout 2018-19 for impending Ligue 1 champs PSG too, scoring 11 goals with 5 assists in just 12 matches. He’s also managed 5 goals with 2 assists in the Champions League and 5 goals in 7 matches for Brazil in international friendlies this year. He’s demonstrated absolutely no signs of weakness since his broken foot and his performances at the World Cup in particular, just weeks after regaining full fitness, is absolutely inspirational.
Neymar remains one of the best players in the world and the criticism he has received in 2018 for his over-exaggerations to being fouled has been over-exaggerated more than Neymar could ever embellish if he tried.
Thanks for reading! To see where Neymar ranks in The Mastermind’s Top 100 Footballers of 2018, click here! See you next time!