Brazil vs Portugal: Neymar's Performance Fortifies Status as World-Class Striker

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIISeptember 11, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Neymar #10 of Brazil traps the ball against Portugal in the second half during the international friendly match at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Brazil defeated Portugal 3-1 in an international friendly on Tuesday at Foxboro's Gillette Stadium, where American fans were able to witness the magnificence of Neymar, the 21-year-old Brazilian prodigy.

Neymar scored the second goal—ultimately the game-winner—for the Selecao in the 34th minute, and his overall performance fortified the notion that he's already established himself as one of the world's premier strikers.

The sheer staggering speed on display from Neymar on his run through the Portuguese defense was nothing short of spectacular.

He began about 40 yards from the opposing goal, then proceeded to fire an unstoppable shot to the back of the net despite being converged on by about four defenders in the box:

And that's besides the fact that Neymar had a hand in setting up his side's other two goals in the match.

Neymar's corner kick allowed Thiago Silva to head home the equalizer at 24', and his beautiful setup to Maxwell set into motion the insurance goal by Jo.

Several other plays stood out, too, including a chance where Neymar used a hesitation move on his dribble before delivering a beautiful pass that could have easily put the Brazilians up 4-1.

Neymar's dribbling prowess was on full display throughout, and it was something to truly marvel. Based on how well he's responded under increased scrutiny, it seems he's already proving his worth as a heavy Barcelona investment.

Expectations are as high as ever for the young star, but it seems as though Neymar is taking the added attention since signing a lucrative contract with Barca in the summer transfer window in stride.

Especially with regard to national team play, the microscope will be on Neymar to continue performing, with next year's World Cup in his native Brazil.

All early indications are that he's up to the task.

Although Tuesday's match wasn't significant in terms of the World Cup, Neymar is quickly making a case for himself to be in the conversation for the tournament's Golden Boot.

That accolade is awarded to the player who finishes the World Cup with the most goals, and with the way Brazil is beginning to rely on him, the opportunity for Neymar to accomplish that is definitely feasible.

Perhaps more importantly, though, is that Neymar is not showing any signs of the entitled superstar syndrome that can often doom precocious players. He is getting his teammates involved and should be a top performer for Brazil in the 2014 World Cup and beyond.