Neymar's Presence Would Not Have Prevented Brazil's Disastrous End at World Cup

Nate LoopFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2014

Brazil's Neymar sings the Brazilian national anthem before the start of the World Cup third-place soccer match between Brazil and the Netherlands at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Neymar suffered a back injury during their quarterfinal match against Colombia. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Andre Penner/Associated Press

Brazil bowed out of the 2014 World Cup with a 3-0 defeat to Netherlands in the third-place match on Saturday, and the shambolic performance proved that Neymar's enviable talents would not have been enough to carry this squad to World Cup glory.

Neymar was one of the top players in the World Cup before a fractured vertebra in the quarterfinals sidelined him for the remainder of the tournament. His abilities were truly marvelous, but they masked the deficiencies in Brazil's play.

Neymar's four goals and one assist dwarfed the output of Brazil's remaining attackers.

Hulk managed to fire off 14 shots without a single goal in the tournament. Nominal strikers Fred and Jo combined for one goal on 14 shots in Brazil's tournament run (prior to the Netherlands game). Oscar scored twice in the World Cup, but one of those goals came at the end of the 7-1 defeat to Germany.

Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Oscar is best suited as a creative midfielder, which further exacerbates the disappointing performance of Brazil's nominal strikers. He also struggled to make the killer pass at times, averaging 1.2 key passes per game in his first six appearances in this tournament.

These numbers are in stark contrast to the attacking force of Germany, which has seen Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos, Andre Schuerrle and Thomas Mueller all account for multiple goals in this tournament.

Brazil struggled in attack, but it also lacked the defensive chops required to win a final, something Neymar couldn't have helped even at his best.

As Squawka Football noted in the debacle against Germany, Brazil center-back David Luiz felt compelled to abandon his post in the center of defense and venture forward:

He may not have wandered as much with Neymar on the pitch, but any of his lapses on defense would have been exploited by the ruthless German attack. This proved to be especially dangerous and baffling as Brazil was without his defensive partner Thiago Silva for the match due to his suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.

USA Today's Nate Scott noted how Luiz and Dante failed to create a strong partnership against Germany:

When one center defender steps to put pressure on the ball, the other must cover for him, while also communicating and organizing his other defenders. Dante and David Luiz were not able to do that at any point in the first half, and really for the entire game.

Silva's impact was lost in the shuffle after Neymar's injury. He was superb against Colombia in the quarterfinals, notching 14 clearances and blocking three shots in the match. He did commit two fouls, but the team committed 31 as a whole in that match. 

The propensity to foul suggested that Brazil's defenders and midfielders had difficulty containing attacking threats.

The Germany game should have taught him a lesson, but Luiz continued to make forward moves against Netherlands, as per Squawka:

Luiz did score two goals in this tournament, but he didn't give the team what it needed in defense. 

Argentina has relied on the exploits of Lionel Messi to move through to the World Cup final. Some could argue that a healthy Neymar would have allowed Brazil to make a similar run, but Argentina benefited from more committed defensive performances than the hosts.

Brazil coach Luiz Scolari was unable to find a way to re-energize his squad before the third-place game after all that had taken place.

"But we have tried to recover psychologically in order to gain a new perspective to face Netherlands as though it was our new goal. We're working on it and I think we have reversed 75 percent of the situation," he said prior to the match against Netherlands, via's Ben Hayward

Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

It should also be noted that Brazil came out flat against a Netherlands side that had one less day to prepare for the third-place game. Scolari might have relied too heavily on Neymar for not only a talent boost but a psychological one as well.

With Brazil's World Cup over, Neymar faces a new challenge as he works on his injury recovery and gets set to join a Barcelona side that now features Luis Suarez, per James Orr of The Independent.

The trio of Neymar, Suarez and Lionel Messi creates one of the most dangerous attacking fronts in Europe. Barcelona finished second in La Liga last season, so it shouldn't be long before Neymar is on the pitch challenging for trophies and titles again.


All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.