Tag Archives: Brazil

Did Neymar live up to his potential or flop?

Without a doubt one of the best Brazilian footballers to ever play the game of professional football, Neymar is already thinking about the end of his career.

The Paris Saint-Germain winger admitted recently that he can’t see past the 2022 World Cup with Brazil in Qatar, revealing that he expects it to be the final tournament of his international career.

The comments sparked a conversation about just how good his career has been in comparison to the ability and potential he had attached to his name throughout.



From when he was just a teenager making his debut at Santos, Neymar was expected to become one of the top footballers in the world.

After dominating the domestic scene in his native Brazil, winning the league in three consecutive seasons and the Copa Libertadores too he secured his major move to Barcelona in a transfer that would follow him for the rest of his career.

His time in Spain was littered with success and brilliance on the pitch. Joining at the age of 21 with so much success already attached to his name, expectation was high.

In four seasons with the club the Brazilian scored 105 goals and registered 76 assists in 185 appearances, a truly remarkable record. But he was always in the shadow of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as part of the now legendary ‘MSN’ trio.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona...

After winning the treble and more trophies after that, Neymar opted to leave the club and move to Paris Saint-Germain in a world record transfer to become the main man at club level, having been the man for Brazil for a number of years already.

But since going to France he’s seen his reputation take a few hits. The competitiveness of the league is nowhere near the best in Europe, he’s failed to win them the Champions League despite making a final and semi-final and he hasn’t even been able to win the league every season.

Many believe he’s been overtaken in the running for best players in the world by the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.

Someone who was once seen as the obvious heir to the throne of Messi and Ronaldo and a guaranteed Ballon d’Or winner once their reign came to an end, now looks more likely to end his career without one.

Neymar Jr. #10 of Brazil reacts after assisting Casemiro on a goal against Colombia during the first half of the friendly at Hard Rock Stadium on...

The World Cup will likely be his last chance to get to the top of that list, but if he doesn’t win it his career will forever been seen as a big what if.

He’ll likely go down as Brazil’s all-time top goalscorer, surpassing the legendary Pele, and one of their most capped players ever. He won it all at club level and was able to win an Olympic gold medal and a Confederations Cup with Brazil, but there is no Copa America or World Cup trophy in his cabinet.

With no major international honours while playing for one of the best international teams ever, and no Ballon d’Or, it’s hard to say that this generational footballer ever really lived up to his potential – despite the greatness he achieved.

Neymar reveals 2022 World Cup will be his last

Neymar has revealed that he expects the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be his last.

The Brazilian winger has been a key man for his country for the best part of a decade, racking up over 113 caps and registering 69 goals for the Seleccao, just eight behind record holder Pele.

The Paris Saint-Germain winger is expected to be a key man once again for Tite as Brazil look for a record-extending sixth World Cup title next winter in the middle east, with Neymar looking for his first title.



The 29-year-old will be 30 by the time that tournament comes around and while many footballers play on until their late 30’s these days, Neymar has revealed that he feels that tournament will be his last with Brazil.

Speaking candidly to DAZN for his new documentary “Neymar and the Line of Kings”, the former Barcelona star revealed he doesn’t feel he has the mental strength for football anymore but says he will give everything to make his final World Cup a success.

“I think it’s my last World Cup. I see it as my last because I don’t know if I have the strength of mind to deal with football any more.

So I’ll do everything to turn up well, do everything to win with my country, to realise my greatest dream since I was little. And I hope I can do it.”

Neymar Jr. Of Brazil lines up prior to a match between Brazil and Peru as part of South American Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 at Arena Pernambuco on...

With several World Cup qualifiers and friendlies to come between now and then, Neymar could well step into the tournament as the greatest goalscorer in Brazil’s history.

Pele currently holds the record with 77 goals and Neymar has previously scored six times at World Cup competitions in ten appearances.

His best performance came at the Brazil World Cup in 2014 where he was the stand-out performer at the tournament, before suffering a fracture in his back during the win over Chile in the quarter-final.

Brazil were then humiliated and defeated 7-1 by Germany in the semi-final, with the Germans going on to beat Argentina in the final.

Remembering Greatness: Gilberto Silva

Look back at all the greatest teams in history and they all have one thing in common, a dominant force in midfield to glue everything together.

The same can be said for both Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ from the 2003/04 season in the Premier League and the 2002 World Cup winners Brazil. Both teams shared the same man in that key position and have unrivalled success – Gilberto Silva.

A beast of a central midfielder, he had all the attributes you crave as a defensive stalwart in your team but also had the athleticism to chip in going forward when needed.

Interestingly enough, Silva’s rise to prominence came at the 2002 World Cup. He was still playing in his home country for Atletico Mineiro when he was called up to the national team as cover for the captain and star defensive midfielder Emerson.

Rather than change system or set up, Luiz Felipe Scolari trusted the 26-year-old to plug that gap. Gilberto played every minute of every game as Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, with his performances described as “carrying the piano on his back that Ronaldo and Rivaldo played their tunes on”.

Brazil's forward Ronaldo (C) and midfielder Gilber : News Photo

The performances were enough to see him labelled as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and that convinced Arsene Wenger to spend £4.5million on bringing him to Europe.

He immediately settled into the team ahead of his international compatriot Edu, forming a formidable partnership alongside Patrick Vieira. Between them, they could physically dominate opposition while also covering ground to help in both directions and being technically tidy enough to keep possession and carve through teams.

Gilberto’s job in the side was simple, beef up the protection in front of the back four and get the ball forward to the more talented attacking players as quickly as possible.

His first season ended with a FA Cup win and runners-up in the league, five points behind Manchester United. But the following season was a historic one in English football.

In 2003/04 Arsenal went the entire season unbeaten, becoming the first English side to do so. Gilberto was key in that run, playing in 32 of 38 league games as well as all eight Champions League games they played that season. Unfortunately for Arsenal, they didn’t win any cup competitions so had to settle for that league title – which would end up being the only title Gilberto won in his career.

The following year he struggled with injury after fracturing his back and only featured 17 times in all competitions before returning the following season. His important to the side was shown, since despite the exit of Vieira to Juventus that summer, Gilberto’s partnership with Cesc Fabregas led the Gunners to a Champions League final against Barcelona.

Although they lost, they played very well and it was two late goals against ten men that won it for Barcelona and meant that Gilberto went trophyless once again.

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Aside from those classic performances for the Gunners, he will also forever go down in history for the club. After they moved from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, it was the Brazilian who scored the club’s first ever goal at the new stadium in a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.

Following on from there he lost his place in the Arsenal team as a regular, but for Brazil he was still key. He wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Lucio during the 2007 Copa America as Brazil won the tournament, beating Argentina 3-0 in the final. While Gilberto was suspended for the final itself, he played every game up to that point and was key under his idol Dunga.

After a spell with Greek side Panathinaikos he returned to Brazil to finish his career in his homeland where he spoke of winning the Copa Libertadores with his former side Atletico Mineiro. In 2013 he achieved that dream before retiring.

‘The Invisible Wall’ was the glue for all the successful teams he played in. Dominant aerially, a tough tackler, a great reader of the game and a leader. Arsenal wouldn’t have gone unbeaten without him and Brazil wouldn’t have won the World Cup without him. Without a doubt one of the best and most underrated defensive midfielders of his generation. Remember greatness, remember Gilberto Silva.

Remembering Greatness: Rivaldo

When you think Brazil, the first thing that comes to mind is flair and their legendary number 10 shirt. From Pele and Zico to Ronaldinho, Kaka and Neymar the famous yellow and green has been filled with greatness since forever.

But one man who is often overlooked when it comes to the greatness of his career and achievements both at club level and international level is the great Rivaldo.

With a wand of a left foot, incredible upper body strength, sublime skill, finesse and brute power to go with his athleticism, Rivaldo is without a doubt one of Brazil’s greatest ever.

At 6ft 1, he was not your average diminutive creator. He was powerful, able to compete in physical battles in an era where defenders got away with a crunching tackle as a “warning shot” early in the game. Much like the legendary winger Garrincha, his bow-leggedness never caused him an issue or stopped him reaching greatness.

He first broke onto the scene in Europe after signing for Deportivo La Coruna from Palmeiras. He wore the blue and white stripes of the La Liga outfit for just one season, but he immediately put everyone on notice by scoring 21 league goals in 41 appearances to be the fourth-highest scorer in the division.

Those performances were enough to seal him a move to the Camp Nou, after Barcelona agreed to pay around £19million for the then 25-year-old with manager Sir Bobby Robson convincing the club to sign him ahead of Liverpool’s Steve McManaman.

He had an immediate impact for Los Cules scoring 19 goals in 34 games in La Liga as the Catalan side claimed a league and Copa Del Rey double. The following year he bettered his league goal tally and matched it in all competitions despite playing in less games as they retained the title.

That 1998/99 season was a special one for Rivaldo as he had played a part in helping his national side to the 1998 World Cup final, only to be beaten in the final by France. He bounced back brilliantly, going on to win the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1999.

As the best player in the world officially, he was now the proud owner of Brazil and Barcelona’s number ten shirt but that didn’t stop Louis van Gaal trying to move him around on the pitch.

The Dutch coach tried to put him on the left wing rather than his preferred central playmaker role and despite playing a lot of games his own individual performances struggled. That still didn’t stop him from scoring ten Champions League goals en route to the semi-finals but ultimately he ended the campaign trophyless.

That season saw him linked with moves all over Europe, including Manchester United with then captain Roy Keane naming him as the player that he would most like to see come to Old Trafford.

Instead he opted to stay and produced the best season of his career, scoring 36 goals in 53 games in all competitions but that year is most remembered in Rivaldo’s career for the final game of a long campaign.

With Barcelona and Valencia battling it out for the final Champions League spot, the Brazilian took it upon himself to overtake the opposition with a hat-trick that to this day is widely regarded as the best hat-trick of all time. A stunning, swerving free-kick was his first, before some individual skill and his trademark power found the top corner for his second.

Then in the final minute, Rivaldo received the ball with his back to goal on his chest. His first touch flicked the ball upwards rather than to kill it dead and from the edge of the penalty area he hit a jaw-dropping bicycle kick into the bottom corner to secure the vital three points. If you ask the original R10, that is the greatest goal of his career – and he scored plenty of scorchers.

The following year would be his final with Barcelona, scoring 14 goals in 33 games before the return of Louis van Gaal saw a now 30-year-old Rivaldo was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer.

He joined Italian giants AC Milan, who were still in their pomp with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm as boss. Rivaldo wasn’t as explosive or influential as he was during his heyday anymore, scoring just eight times in 40 appearances across a season-and-a-half in which he broke his European hoodoo to win the Champions League as well as the Coppa Italia.

For all the trophies he won at club level, you cannot overlook his international status.

As previously mentioned he reached the final of the 1998 World Cup, being named in the team of the tournament along the way to a runners-up medal. He scored three times in the tournament for Brazil, with only Ronaldo scoring more for his country.

He bounced back from that disappointment the following summer however, helping the Seleccao to retain their Copa America title in 1999. He scored a tournament high five goals, tied with Ronaldo, and was voted as the tournament’s best player having scored twice in the 3-0 win over Uruguay in the final.

The crowning moment of his Brazil career however came in 2002, when he was a key part of the team that was able to claim victory in the World Cup final to give the country a record fifth title. He scored the winner against Turkey in the group stages, a game where he is more remembered for getting someone sent off for feigning injury when a ball was kicked at him.

He also scored the fourth in a 5-2 win over Costa Rica, at a point where the game was swinging in the minnows favour having just come from 3-0 down to make it 3-2 and also scored the second of four in the win over China. He then scored the opening goal in the 2-0 win over Belgium in the round of 16 before equalising for Brazil in the quarter-final game against England after Michael Owen had put the Three Lions ahead.

The semi-finals and final belonged to R9 as he scored all of Brazil’s goals from then on, but without Rivaldo it’s fair to say they wouldn’t have even got that far. Even in the final it was Rivaldo’s shot that was saved by Oliver Kahn to allow Ronaldo to tap in the opener before he dummied the ball and allowed it to run through to Ronaldo for the second too.

Because of the greatness of R9 at the same time as him as well as the greatness that followed with Ronaldinho and Kaka both winning Ballon d’Or’s also before Neymar became one of Brazil’s all-time greats, Rivaldo’s brilliance is often forgotten.

Don’t let him be forgotten, because he is truly one of the absolute best Brazilians to ever grace the game of football.

Neymar’s ‘mysterious’ March unavailability in full

Neymar has once again been ruled out of action for a month after picking up a groin injury during a cup game for Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazilian winger started against Ligue 2 side Caen in the Coup De France but with his side leading 1-0, the recently turned 29-year-old hobbled off holding his groin.

Further tests the following day revealed an adductor injury for the winger and he has been ruled out of action for the next four weeks. It means he will miss a reunion with his former club Barcelona in the Champions League last 16.

But eagle-eyed fans spotted that a theme has occurred. Neymar’s sister has a birthday on March 11th and Neymar hasn’t been available to play for his club, whether it be Barcelona or PSG, since way back in 2015!

Here’s a breakdown of his absence every year:


2015 – Suspended

At this point it was probably seen as just a coincidence, but Neymar picked up a fifth yellow card of the season against Granada in the match before the one that fell nearest to the birth date. It meant he was unavailable for the Catalan side’s home game with Rayo Vallecano on March 8th, which they won 6-1. Because he was unavailable, the club allowed him to return to Brazil where he celebrated his sister’s birthday with her. He was back on the 14th of March for the win over Eibar, playing 70 minutes.

FC Barcelona v SD Eibar - La Liga : News Photo

2016 – Suspended

The same game week the following season, and once again Neymar picked up a fifth yellow card of the season in the game before. He missed the tie against Eibar which Barcelona won 4-1 without him and returned the following week to feature on the 12th March against Getafe, scoring twice in a 6-0 win. Once again the club allowed him to fly back to his homeland, where he was pictured at a huge Disney themed birthday party as she turned 20. Cute.

2017 – Injured

To avoid question marks around three successive suspensions in the same game week, this time Neymar was conveniently suffering from a “muscular injury” in 2017 and missed a 2-1 defeat to Deportivo La Coruna during his final season with Barcelona. He probably earned the weekend off for this one though, as in the week leading up to the birthday he put in a man of the match performance with two goals and two assists as Barcelona came from behind to beat PSG 6-1 in the Champions League. Despite the muscle injury, Neymar was back in Brazil to celebrate with Rafaella once again.

2018 – Injured

FBL-EUR-C1-DORTMUND-PSG : News Photo

This time we’re willing to accept that the injury was genuine, since the Brazilian suffered a broken foot at the end of February and wouldn’t feature again that season. With recovery at the forefront of his mind, Neymar went back to Brazil to try and recover in time for the 2018 World Cup in Russia but found some spare time to celebrate with his baby sister once again.

2019 – Injured

So the following year, Neymar once again broke his foot and missed a large chunk of the end of the season – including the dates around his sister’s birthday. It’s just a curse at this point, although he was able to return for the end of the campaign as PSG won the league title again, but lost on penalties in the Coupe de France final despite Neymar getting a goal and assist.

2020 – COVID-19

So last year wasn’t his fault in the slightest either, with the coronavirus taking over the world at the start of March. The season was curtailed early in France due to the virus, with the French league never restarting after it was paused following game week 27. Neymar returned back to Brazil to be with his family with football cancelled and that included his sister’s birthday – again.

SM Caen v Paris Saint Germain - French Cup : News Photo

2021 – Injured

That brings us to this season, where Neymar will miss a return to the Camp Nou with a groin/adductor muscle injury. The date of the press release from PSG states he will be out for four weeks, which directly coincides with the date of his sister’s birthday. With a quarantine period being implemented in Brazil and France for anyone travelling into or from the country, it will be interesting to see if the winger is seen with his sibling once again.

Coincidence or a well-thought out master plan from Neymar? Who knows, but you should never rely on the Brazilian to be available in the second week of March if history is anything to go by.

Neymar’s new PSG contract confirms the path he needs for greatness

It’s hard to make a case for Neymar not having reached his full potential, but it’s also pretty easy to make a case too.

Having just turned 29 years old, the Brazilian superstar has agreed a new four-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain to extend his stay at the club until 2026 at least.

By that point, Neymar will be 34 years old and without a doubt on his way down on the trajectory of his career. He’s not the supreme super-athlete that Cristiano Ronaldo is – who turned 36 on the same day Neymar turned 29 – nor is he a player who doesn’t need to rely on his physical attributes like Lionel Messi does.

Neymar’s key attributes have always been his incredible skill, matched with electric pace, super agility and the technical quality to carry the ball past players with total ease. By the time he is 34, he’ll still be able to do those things but probably not to the same standard that we’ve come accustomed to.

What that means for most, is that Neymar has entered the final stretch of his career to make himself remembered as one of the best of his generation.

After joining Barcelona from Santos, Neymar shone. He scored 105 goals in 186 games for the Catalan giants and won every trophy available to him while becoming one third of arguably the greatest attacking trident the game has ever seen with Messi and Luis Suarez.

But when he left the Camp Nou for Paris aged 25, many questioned his ambition. To him it was clear – he wanted to be the main man in a successful team and didn’t feel like he could do that in the shadow of Messi in Spain.

He was right too, nobody can outshine the greatest player of all time at the club he has spent his entire career. To put into perspective how good Messi is at Barcelona just look at his goal record. He has scored 651 times for the club and sits top of the all time scoring charts. But he is so far ahead of everyone else that you’d have to add together the player’s tally from fourth place, third place and second place in those charts and then add 27 goals to match him.

Neymar’s decision to join a side who are financially strong enough to compete for all the major titles in Europe while making him the main man was easy to understand. They signed Kylian Mbappe alongside him and with Thomas Tuchel being brought in soon after, they were supposed to push on and become a dominant force.

But in a spell that has seen him constantly linked with a return to Spain due to unhappiness, as well as marred with injuries and underperforming in the Champions League question marks have been raised about whether or not the move was a success.

He’s won several trophies with the club, but PSG are supposed to win everything domestically. The money they have available to them, they are completely clear of everyone around them to be able to dominate the league and cup scene in France.

In Europe though, they’ve not been as good. They had failed to reach even the quarter-finals since Neymar joined the club until last season, when the adjusted run-in meant they made it all the way to the final.

The single leg format certainly helped them but Neymar was the standout performer until they came up against a formidable Bayern Munich side.

There was talk that the defeat could see the end of the project, with Neymar to return to Spain to get back to the top of the game. Instead though, he has committed himself to the project and huge money to finish what he started.

Having already won the Champions League, simply winning it once with PSG with the amount of investment they have put into the squad won’t be enough to cement his legacy.

With the World Cup around the corner now, winning it is the only way that he will be remembered in generations to come for the great player that he actually is.

The club trophies are great but are clouded by the fact he was playing alongside Messi, the entire reason he left the club to begin with. Without succeeding at PSG by winning the Champions League he will be deemed to have never reached that potential without him.

But internationally, to go down with the great Brazilians before him like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Zico, Pele and Romario he needs a World Cup title.

The Brazilian side is arguably the strongest it’s been during Neymar’s reign as the leader and the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar will be his final attempt at the biggest trophy in all of football.

His path to eternal greatness is now set with this new contract. Win the Champions League with PSG as the main man and then win the World Cup with Brazil and go down as the best Brazilian of this era. Simple.

Diego Costa to leave Atletico Madrid in January – Where next?

Diego Costa’s second spell in Madrid is to come to an end in January after it was revealed that Atletico Madrid will not be offering him a new contract.

The Brazilian-born Spain international striker is due to become a free agent in June 2021, with the contract he signed upon returning to Atletico Madrid in 2018 due to expire at the end of this season.

With the former Chelsea man now available and several clubs looking for a striker in January, where could the 32-year-old end up?

The obvious choice is a move back to Brazil, where he started his career. After coming through the Barcelona-SP academy, Costa moved to Portugal before he made a senior appearance. He could look to return to his homeland for a run in their top division, although which team is hard to decipher.

Another option could be a reunion with Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte in Serie A. The two were together at Chelsea when Conte won the Premier League in 2017, before a very public falling-out led to Costa’s return to Atletico.

It’s been several years since though and with Inter looking to put pressure on local rivals AC Milan and Juventus in the chase for the Serie A title, a boost in firepower could very well help. His injury problems are a concern and his wages would likely be high, but with Christian Eriksen almost certainly leaving that could free up some space.

Another option could be a return to the Premier League. The likes of West Ham could be interested but one club who could look to use him on a short-term deal are Wolves.

After Raul Jimenez fractured his skull against Arsenal, Wolves have found themselves playing young Fabio Silva as the starting striker. He is yet to score a goal in the Premier League and Wolves have scored only four goals in the five games since the Mexican’s injury.

Recruiting Costa on a short-term deal could allow them to play their usual style of football with a target man in the box to build off, while also taking the pressure off young Silva.

The club already have a great relationship with the player’s agent Jorge Mendes and with Atletico the party making the decision to part ways, a deal should be relatively easy to do if Costa is willing to move to the Molineux.

Brazil Greatest XI vs Italy Greatest XI

When you think football, you almost certainly will think of the Brazilian national team and it’s glittering history.

The famous yellow shirts are linked heavily with some of the greatest attacking players in the history of football, while defensively they’ve probably never been blessed with the best options. They’ve had a few stand outs but nothing like when you look at the history of the Italian side.

Arguably the greatest defensive nation in footballing history, Italy have had some of the best defenders in history prior to my lifetime including the likes of Franco Baresi. So what happens if you pit the best attack against the best defence over the most recent generations?

Much like in the ‘France vs Holland Fantasy Match‘, several top players have missed out on the lineups simply because I can’t pick more than 11 players. The likes of Rivaldo, Christian Vieri, Giorgio Chiellini, Gilberto Silva, Cafu, Marcelo and Gennaro Gattuso have been left out either because I believe these are better or I’m trying to get more of a balance of past and present.

Football. 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals. Semi Final. Saitama, Japan. 26th June 2002. Brazil 1 v Turkey 0. Members of the Brazil team are pictured with mascots as they sing their anthem prior to the match. L-R: Rivaldo and Cafu (captain). Credit: POPPERFOTO/J : News Photo

In goal, Italy’s choice was obvious. Gianluigi Buffon is likely to go down as one of the best goalkeepers ever and up until recently is the only Italy number one I’ve know. For Brazil, I’ve given Alisson the nod over two legends in Dida and Claudio Taffarel. The Liverpool man is arguably the best of the lot with his feet and is comfortable sweeping up behind a top heavy team, so he fits in well here.

At full-back, Brazil have arguably had the two best pairs of right and left backs of my lifetime with Cafu and Roberto Carlos as well as Dani Alves and Marcelo. I’ve decided to split the difference with this and take on from each era, with Dani Alves and Roberto Carlos taking the spots here.

Footballer Ronaldo in Action Against Italy : News Photo

For Italy, their full-backs pick themselves. Paolo Maldini is recognised as one of the best defenders the world has ever seen and while he could play at centre-back, he often was used as a left-back for the national team due to the plethora of top central defenders they possessed. As for right-back, Gianluca Zambrotta is comfortably the best Italian I’ve ever seen in that position and that makes his inclusion easy enough.

At centre-back Italy’s pairing is arguably unfair. Alessandro Nesta is the best defender I’ve ever seen in my opinion while Fabio Cannavaro is the last defender to win the Ballon D’Or following Italy’s World Cup win in 2006. A combination of speed, strength, intelligence, aerial ability and leadership they would be a nightmare for any attack.

Brazil’s options don’t have the same quality or reputation, but Lucio and Thiago Silva is also a pairing that would strike fear into any attacking lineup. Aerially dominant, good on the ball and aggressive as they come I would ultimately back the Brazilian’s to make an error before the Italians.

Italy Training Session And Press Conference : News Photo

In midfield, Italy have got balance for days. The destroyer vibe of Daniele De Rossi alongside the playmaking skill of Marco Verratti and Andrea Pirlo give the team the perfect base to build their attacks from while also being to compete in defensive situations too.

Brazil’s lineup is a bit more top heavy and I’ve gone with Fernandinho in the holding midfield role. Now I know I could’ve picked Gilberto Silva but I went with the Manchester City man for the simple reason that I have seen him play in top heavy teams before. With Kaka, Ronaldinho and Neymar ahead of him all interchanging positions and causing havoc, Italy will have a tough time containing the quality and invention they have.

In attack, Italy’s attack has got three magnificent talents ready to link up and interchange positions. Roberto Baggio is widely considered as the best Italian attacker of his generation or since, while Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero are the reigning kings of Rome and Turin respectively.

Their passing, creativity, skill and link up play would likely see some of the best team goals ever scored with them on the pitch, although they lack the frightening pace that a side likely to play on the counter attack would like to have.

FUSSBALL: TOURNOI DE FRANCE MINI WM Lyon, 04.06.97 : News Photo

For Brazil, two of the greatest number nines of the modern generation playing up front together is a terrifying prospect. Romario was the main man during the 1994 World Cup and it was ‘El Fenomeno’ who took the mantle and went on to be one of the best strikers of all time. Together, their combination of pace, skill, strength, creativity and ruthless finishing would surely be too much for any defence.

This would be a battle between attack and defence and it’s hard to see past the attack coming out on top.

Brazil are by no means pushovers defensively and if the full-backs are a bit more efficient with their attacking outlet then you can imagine Italy struggling to break them down with their lack of pace.

With that said, Italy will have the advantage in midfield with three excellent ball-players in there so if they can keep the ball for long periods and keep Brazil’s attack quiet then they would potentially be able to cause an upset.

The likelihood for me however, is that Brazil get on the ball in dangerous areas far too often for the Italian’s to cope and eventually they get broken down for the famous yellow jerseys to celebrate a win yet again.

Is Richarlison Brazil’s Next Big Thing?

As soon as he came over from South America and donned the yellow and black of Watford FC, there was something about Richarlison.

Marco Silva brought over a rough diamond from Fluminese for £11.2 million, a steal for the highly-rated 20 year old at the time. Since then, he has followed Silva to Everton for a staggering £50 million just one season later and has become a key element to the success of the Merseyside team.

Carlo Ancelotti stepped into the role of manager last season and immediately pushed Richarlison into a central striking role alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin and saw results. Richarlison ended the campaign with 15 goals in all competitions as Everton strengthened the squad in the summer to start competing for European places.

Now being deployed on the left of a 4-3-3, his favoured position, with Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez filling the rest of the attack Everton have started the season with 7 straight wins in all competitions – the first time in over 120 years.

Richarlison’s form has been overshadowed by that of his strike partners but his performances have been sensational. He is linking midfield to attack well and is supporting Calvert-Lewin on the goalscoring front with 4 goals in his 6 appearances so far.

The good form saw him called up to the Brazil squad once again, where he earned his 21st cap in the 4-2 win over Peru on Tuesday night. He scored his 7th international goal after starting alongside Neymar and Roberto Firmino in a three-pronged attack, tapping in from Firmino’s headed across the goal.

With his pace, skill, vision, determination, work ethic and eye for goal Richarlison has all the tools to become a main man in the famous yellow jersey of the Brazilian national team. His versatility will also help as the next generation begins to creep into the senior side with the likes of Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo Goes coming into the wide positions eventually. This would allow Richarlison to move central and add goals to his record.

If Everton continue in the form they’ve started the season with, it is almost inevitable that one of the big boys in the Premier League or even in Europe start taking a look at him to strengthen their sides.

At 23 years old he’s still young enough to be the future of the national team but also the future of a major European sides future. He might just be the next big thing to come out of Brazil.