I cried a lot (after 2014 exit)…I’ll be more prepared for 2018 World Cup: Neymar
Neymar, who currently plays for Paris Saint Germain, speaks of his determination after the hosts imploded against eventual winners Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 FIFA World Cupfootball Updated: Jan 21, 2018 08:53 IST
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching and the planet awaits the biggest names in football to unleash their skills when they take the field in Russia from June 14 and July 15.
One of the big names will be Neymar Jr. The Brazilian star, who last August became the world’s most expensive player after his transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, will have unfinished business.
The 25-year-old, who is promoting the Red Bull-supported Neymar Jr’s five-a-side tournament, spoke on various issues; who does he consider the World Cup favourites and how he and the Brazilian team plan to banish the ghosts of 2014, when the hosts, with Neymar injured, caved in and lost 1-7 in the semifinals to eventual champions Germany.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is upon us. Who are the favourites and why? Who could spring a surprise?
The best-known teams are the favourites. Among these would be Brazil, Germany, France, Spain and Argentina. These teams will be the highlights in any tournament. And Belgium has an excellent team and can be a surprise.
How different will be your approach from the last World Cup when you scored four goals? Can Brazil banish the ghosts of 2014 and win this time?
It will be a lot different this time. It’s strange because I didn’t finish the 2014 World Cup the way I wanted to. I wanted to win the title, but didn’t finish. My tournament ended with a serious injury, it was unfortunate (back injury in a rough tackle in the game against Colombia). That was a really bad week for me. I cried a lot and asked myself many times why it had happened.
But eventually you understand everything that happens in life makes you stronger, even if it’s not something you want at that particular time. It helps you learn and prepare better in the future. I feel I’m more experienced and wiser because I’ve had many experiences. I participated in a World Cup where we lost and now I’ll be more prepared for the next one, because I know what it’s like to be in a World Cup.
How do you rate Brazil’s group with Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia?
Brazil is ready to face anyone. We train so much we’re not afraid of anyone. It’s a World Cup, so the best teams are there and all of them are well prepared with tremendous quality. You can’t pick one team over the other thinking they’ll be weaker. You just have to be ready when you go to a World Cup. All the games will be very difficult, that’s why it’s called the World Cup, right? This World Cup is going to be huge for Brazilians. Personally, I’m going to give everything I’ve got to win it.
Who will be the player to watch out for and why?
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah – plays for Liverpool -- is a great player who can make a difference in the World Cup.
Your move to Paris Saint-Germain was the most expensive transfer in club football. How is French club football different from Spain and Brazil?
The European style is very similar, so there’s not much difference between the leagues. The Brazilian players in Paris helped me a lot here; all the guys from our team in general, the Spaniards, they have all helped me to adapt. It’s getting easier for me.
What do you make of the PSG-Real Madrid Champions League clash (Round of 16 meetings on Feb 15 and Mar 7)?
We want to make history and will do everything possible to eliminate them (holders Real). We know it will be a difficult game. Real Madrid players have been together for many years. They are looking for their third successive Champions League, but I know we can beat them.