Olympic Soccer 2012: Neymar Has Turned London Games into His Playground
Neymar entered the Olympic soccer tournament as one of the biggest names in the field. After the group stage, he is by far the biggest name in the tournament and one of the biggest in the Olympic Games. In three Brazil wins, Neymar has dominated and turned London into his own playground.
In the opening match of the tournament for Brazil, Neymar was quiet at the start, but consistently got more involved. After two teammates got on the score sheet early, Neymar took his turn in the 30th.
Neymar made a quick move and burst into space in the middle of the pitch. As he got close to the box, all four Egyptian defenders closed in on him. He passed out wide to Hulk in space and made a run straight down the middle of the pitch. Hulk's cross found Neymar's head, and Brazil went up 3-0.
In the second match against Belarus, Neymar's beautiful and perfectly placed cross found Pato for the equalizing goal in the 15th minute. In the 65th minute, Neymar scored on a brilliant free kick with a bend that would make David Beckham proud.
Neymar was also involved in Brazil's final goal in the 3-1 victory against Belarus. In the 93rd minute, Neymar used a gorgeous first-touch header to spark a long run toward the top of the box. As he drew in the defender, Neymar back-heeled a perfect ball to Oscar, who netted home the goal.
Neymar didn't find the net or assist on any goals during Brazil's final group-play match against New Zealand, but he was still extremely dangerous.
Throughout the three matches, one thing is clear: When Neymar has the ball at his feet, he's a threat to create a goal. Whether that means scoring himself or putting his teammate in a perfect position, Neymar does it.
Neymar's unreal level of play has certainly caught the attention of the soccer world. Rumors popped up every now and then about a European transfer from his Brazilian club, Santos.
According to Fox Sports, Barcelona is interested in bringing Neymar's talents to the club should he decide to move to Europe. When asked about Neymar and a potential transfer, Barcelona vice president Jose Maria Bartolomeu sounded hopeful.
"Neymar? We would all like to see him joining after the Olympics," Bartolomeu said. "If he decides to come to Europe we'll try to make it Barca."
The fact that Barcelona wants the 20-year-old Brazilian is saying something in and of itself. His talent has been recognized for quite some time, but the level to which Neymar is dominating the Olympic tournament was unexpected.
While he hasn't yet had success at the top levels, all signs are pointing toward Neymar being one of soccer's greatest talents. A European move would help the player grow his game in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.
The Olympic Games have been the welcoming party for Neymar. Before the tournament, he was little more than a prospect, having not had a chance to prove himself on a big stage. This isn't the biggest stage, but Neymar has outgrown it in just three matches.
If Neymar can continue to build on his Olympic success and secure a European move, the Brazilian-hosted World Cup could be the next playground for Neymar.
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