Brazil great Rivaldo says the pressure Neymar will be under at the World Cup could work in the Selecao superstar’s favour.
Brazil are aiming to win the tournament for the first time since 2002, when Rivaldo was part of the side that defeated Germany 2-0 in the final in Yokohama.
Redemption may also be on the agenda, as four years ago, on home soil, an injured Neymar was forced to watch his team humbled 7-1 by Die Mannschaft in the 2014 semi-final.
Former Barcelona and AC Milan forward Rivaldo, speaking to Omnisport at the Betfair World Cup preview night in central London, discussed the scrutiny Neymar will face in Russia.
“The pressure is a good thing for Neymar. It shows the whole world is looking at you. But all the team has to play well so that good things can happen,” the 1999 Ballon d’Or winner said.
“Everybody in the squad has to play well so he can play his football at the level everyone expects him to.”
Rivaldo expressed empathy for his compatriot, saying he experienced similar expectations to the PSG forward: “I’ve felt this [the pressure] as well at two World Cups. But it’s a nice pressure, the whole world is looking at you, you feel like you have to play well.”
Neymar returned to action and scored against Croatia in a 2-0 friendly win at Anfield on Sunday after just over three months out with a broken metatarsal.
Although he is coming off a lengthy layoff, Rivaldo believes the star attacker will excel.
“When you are 26, as he is now, you won’t play badly,” he said.
“You feel you have the support of the fans, he believes in his football so I believe he’ll play very well.”
Brazil are one of the heavy favourites heading into the tournament in Russia and Rivaldo feels they can prevail despite strong competition.
“I think the favourites for this year are Brazil. Brazil are definitely amongst the other favourite teams for this World Cup,” he said.
“But, as I am Brazilian, I believe Brazil have everything they need to be World Cup champions this year.
“But my other favourites are France, Argentina, Spain, Germany. These are always the same. England could also be one.”
Brazil get their campaign underway on June 17 against Switzerland in Rostov-on-Don.
After that they take on Costa Rica on June 22 before rounding off the group phase of the tournament with a clash against Serbia on June 27.