March 28th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

Will Neymar win the 2014 World Cup for Brazil?

Brazil's Neymar scored a brace to help his country beat Scotland 2-0 in London on Sunday.
Brazil's Neymar scored a brace to help his country beat Scotland 2-0 in London on Sunday.

As I watched Brazil easily dismantle Scotland in London on Sunday, two things became apparent. The first: Neymar will soon become one of the best players on the planet. The second: the Selecao will not win anything, much less the next World Cup played on home soil, unless they find a top striker.

Let's start with Neymar. I have followed his career ever since he made his senior debut for Santos as a 17-year-old in 2009. He burst onto the scene with a deadly combination of dazzling skills and explosive pace. His ability to take defenders on and leave them in his wake quickly had most scouts around the world salivating.

He promised a second coming of Robinho, only with many more goals. So far, he has averaged a goal every two games for his club, and has netted an astounding 15 goals in 13 games for his country's U-17, U-20 and senior sides combined.

So what can we expect from Neymar? Well, in my opinion, it is just a matter of time before he moves to Europe. I expect him to be playing in Spain, England or Italy by the start of next season. Even though his inflated ego and fiery temperament have already got him in trouble with teammates and coaches at Santos, top European clubs will gamble on a player who seems to be settling down and slowly maturing into a star. If he bulks up a little and continues to learn the game, he could easily become one of the world's top 10 players in the next couple of years.

So, with a talent like Neymar blossoming just in time for the next World Cup, Brazilian fans should be feeling good about lifting the trophy on home soil in 2014, right? Well... not so fast. As good as he is, and as good as some of the other young creative players are, they lack a quality striker, and in my opinion, unless coach Mano Menezes finds one, the Samba Kings will struggle to challenge for honors in three years time.

Will Brazil win the 2014 World Cup?

I'll tell you why. Let's look back at the last few World Cups and the ones Brazil excelled in. In 1994, they had Romario and Bebeto. In 1998, they had Ronaldo. Four years later, the same man was at the center of their impressive run to the title in Asia.

What happened in the last two tournaments? They failed to reach the semifinals, and a big reason for that was the absence of a finisher. I will give you one more example of the case I am making. Back in 1982, as much flair and skill as Brazil had, they missed a player who could convert all the chances created by the likes Zico, Socrates and Falcao. Serginho was not nearly as good as most of his teammates.

Now I know what you're thinking. In 2006, Brazil had Ronaldo and Adriano and still got knocked out in the quarterfinals. Well, I would say that neither was close to being in good physical shape. Both men were shadows of their true selves. They made more of an impact for the names on their shirts than for the quality of play on the pitch.

So, how will this problem be solved? Well I don't see a lot of talented young Brazilian strikers out there right now. On Sunday, against Scotland, Menezes gave Leandro Damiao and Jonas a chance, but neither looked good enough.

The only solution will be asking Alexandro Pato or Nilmar to lead the line. Both players, who normally line up either on the wing or as an attacking midfielder will have to learn how to become a fox-in-the-box. They are both talented enough, the question is can they become poachers? Can they learn to lead the line instead of drifting into wide positions where they are operate for their clubs?

The answer is still unknown. If they can, Brazil could be hard to stop at the next World Cup. If they fail, there could be a lot of broken hearts in the South American nation in a few years time.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Arti

    Wow, this is the first time that Pedro might be right! Let's hope at least two top Brazilian strikers will emerge within the next 2 1/2 years.

    March 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  2. olaven

    Very good article. I am pleased to be able to read such good reflected football articles from an american news agency🙂

    March 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  3. Andre

    CNN, mostra o gol 100 do Ceni em cima dos gambas que estao comemorando o centenario....ta ai o centenario seus gambas!!! hahaha

    March 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  4. John Toure

    Bravo pedro....this shows exactly your status in analysing the brazilian Team. i have a problem with the Brazilian team..... i think they are concentrating more on the attacking options and leaving the defense wide open, we saw the game against scotland as they were caught on one or two occasions. i believe Neymar has all the quality to succeed at Chelsea.....am a chelsea fan..... good luck

    March 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  5. Isaac Young Coffie

    It is true that Brazil of late had dwingled the king of form they possess on the field giving into account the last two world cup performances not going beyond a place lots of fans hope they should pass as a soccer nation. but the emergence of Neymar is a good news to the Brazil football fraternity for his promising nature of prolific going scoring attitude so I wish he should still learn more to be well ripened for the next world cup on Home soil because they cant afford to let go trophy of such caliber on home soil. by the way kudos to his performance against Scotland few days ago. more room for improvement ....................
    manager Mano Menezes should be also mindful of some experienced senoir players who would add up significantly to the squad.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  6. Tamsir

    What about Luis Fabiano? Where does he fit in the search for a stiker? In the past he was playing this role.

    March 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  7. Guilherme

    In my opinion we have already two strikers, Lucas (SPFC) and Luis Fabiano also a SPFC player. Ps.: CNN, please, show to the world ROgério Ceni 100 goal..

    March 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  8. Denise

    I agree with you. However, I do believe a new brilliant striker will shine in Brazillian teams in the next couple of years. Come on, every year there are lots of skilled players shinning out there. It's just a matter of time. In fact, not only one, but many strikers will shine.
    By the way, I agree with André. You should show R. Ceni 100 goal!

    March 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  9. fusbal

    no way...they need a good striker to be succesfull? ....i can´t believe no one ever thought of that before...genius....

    March 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  10. Ricardo Pavan

    Lucas from SĂŁo Paulo Futebol Clube is the striker you are looking for!

    March 28, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  11. Deen Ali

    Apart from that loss to Uruguay in the 1950 final match, Brazil is yet to be beaten in a World Cup game (whether in qualifying or finals) on home soil. So whether or not they have a Pele or a Romario or a Ronaldo come 2014, I would say it's still going to be very very tough to deny them of their sixth title! But a great article nonetheless. Thanks!

    March 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  12. Chris

    Pato does spend the majority of his time with Milan on t =he wing but he is perfectly capable of being the front man

    March 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  13. Bugsy Nero

    Brazil is a breeding ground for talent.There is no reason to believe that the (Brazil) cant overcome all their short-comings in time for the world cup.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  14. suco acerola

    unfortunately, neymar seems to have the same (awful) character as adriano. poor kids became too rich too soon...
    the brazilian league is really weak, let's see if neymar will have success in europe.
    at the moment i can't see any outstanding brazilian striker playing in europe.

    March 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  15. Jovijr

    Nice article! In 1982 brazilian striker Careca was injured a few days before Spain World Cup started. But you are right: Serginho wasn't as good as Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Junior, Cerezzo, Eder and so on. He could be a nice striker for most of clubs around the world but not for the brazilian team.

    March 29, 2011 at 1:13 am | Reply
  16. anon

    Exactly! absolutely right and awesome article!

    March 29, 2011 at 1:41 am | Reply
  17. Bryan

    Excellent article Pedro hit home run with comments about Brazil and striker
    .

    March 29, 2011 at 2:16 am | Reply
  18. Ricardo da Silva

    Well, Spain won the last World cup with Fernando Torres as the striker. Italy won in 2006 with Luca Toni. Neither one of these players can be considered a top striker, can they?

    March 29, 2011 at 2:57 am | Reply
  19. macilane

    In today's time, Barcelona is the real Brasil. Guardiola plays the real Brasilian football better than the Brasilian themselves. Brasil continues to have a lack og good strikers forwards and also good defenses.

    Please hire Pepi Guardiola as the main coach and Mourinho as second.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:40 am | Reply
  20. alehandro

    The problem is that the perception of Brazil as a world superpower by right is rooted in the past. Commentators ooh and aah over the Brazilians as if Pele, Zico, and Ronaldo themselves were all on the field in their prime, when in fact the quality of the Brazilian team ebbs and flows from generation to generation like any other nation, and the skill of the players is no more remarkable than say that of the Portugese or Spanish. Neymar has a lot of potential, but it's not his ability to go past people with a trick or two that makes him special, it's his ability to find space and time, which is what all great strikers do. You can't teach that, and as long as he works hard at his game and his ego doesn't get in the way of his natural talent he'll be a star. But I don't believe Brazil need an outright star striker to challenge for the World Cup in an era when the team ethic is more important and goals come from all over the field. It's more important these days to put on a united front and have players working for each other in every department. If that happens, the goals will come from someone, and I believe Brazil will be a force in 2014.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  21. francis

    I agree with Pinto.But i think the bigger problem lies in the lack of a creative midfielder from whom the striker feeds.
    Over and above that,the brzilians are getting Europeanised.............by that i mean,neymar is playing the smooth,silky south American football...............but what is Elano playing?there goes the confusion and Brazl looks mediocre at times.
    No doubt though,in Neymar,Brazil have a ronaldinho and ronaldo in One,only more direct in his attack.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  22. Patrick Moyna

    Actually, Neymar IS Robinhos second coming ! I tend to remember Robinho pouting in the floor when he lost the ball in the game against Holland. Neymar is similar. All circus tricks that seldom get you far, all ego and no heart. And this time around there will be several Uruguays ready to knock them off, teams that are not awed by their "superiority". If they run into Argentina, Paraguay, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, to name half of the teams willing to have a re-Maracanazo. Havelange is not around to improve their chances by indicating series where Brasil will have more chances of winning, so life will not be that simple. And Neymar will be redcarded a couple of times if he insists in his antics. Players, I like, circus clowns playing soccer I do not.

    March 29, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  23. DANIEL TESHOME

    I THINK HE IS GOOD ........AND ALSO I AM A BRAZILIAN NATIONAL TEAM FUN BUT WE CAN NOT SAY THE TEAM WILL WIN THE 2014 WORLD CUP .....RATHER WE HAVE TO SEE THE TEAM FOR THE NEXT GAMES

    March 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Reply
  24. Augusto

    What? We didn't have an excellent striker in the last World Cup!? How about LUIS FABIANO? He was such an awesome player.
    It's true that we might not win the next World Cup at our land, however, it's not because of a striker.
    Do Spain and Italy, the last 2 world champions, had strikers like Ronaldo, Romario? Of course not.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  25. Kasim

    I/we dont like watching world sports on top of the hour,it's very odd,Top of the hour is news time.I switch to BBC if CNN are showing world sports on top of the hour.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  26. kleber nunes

    Neymar is an excellent player and he will make diffence in the 2014 world cup.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Reply
  27. Vinicius

    The Neymar will not win the world cup for Brazil because the football is a
    team sport and Brazil has already lost other hearts on it and forget
    put everything in a single athlete

    March 30, 2011 at 12:27 am | Reply
  28. Jim Bryon

    Pedro,

    Always enjoy your analysis and commentary.

    Just to put the record straight on the 2002 Cup, though Ronaldo was THE striker, Rivaldo was probably the most import "piece" or cog in the wheel of the Brazilian offence. Rivaldo's presence in the offense half of the field, with or without the ball, was decisive.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:20 am | Reply
  29. Jean-marc

    One thing that was demonstrated at the last world cup is the danger of looking to identify the one player who can carry a team to World Cup success. Messi is arguably the bext player in the world at the moment and there is no doubting his ability as a finisher. That didn't help Argentina much. They failed at the big stage – again – and our proven finisher drew a Blank. And by the way, Argentina also had the benefit of Gonzalo Higuain, another proven striker. He scored a few, but the country still failed! Looking at the last 20 years, only once (in 2002) did the Top scorer finish in the winning team! Still think a proven striker is the answer? The team that gets it right at the tournament will win it. Brazil certainly doesn'tt appear to in a strong position at the moment but 2 and 1/2 years is a long time.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  30. Lucas César Lourenço de Moraes

    You should show the hundrendth goal from Rogério 100ni !!!!
    He is the best goalkeeper of Brazil, he plays in the best team all over the Brazil !!!! He deserves all the tributes !!!

    March 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  31. Pedro Lopes

    My dear friend Pedro Pinto you are completely out of your mind!

    March 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  32. Bruno Willian

    My dear friend Pedro Pinto you are completely out of your mind! (2)
    Brazil is the best in Football 🙂

    March 31, 2011 at 12:35 am | Reply
  33. kasonde

    Neymar. is robaino part 2 has someone said, his got skill but bad attitude

    brazil are goo side, with kaka and ronaldino may com eback for the last agme for the Samba kings. also pato or nilmar from vilareal can play up top.

    however Brazil wont will the wc, but they may go far.

    the teams likely to win the wc in this order is Argentina, Germany, Spain, Netherlands then Brazil, Italy and France close behind

    March 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  34. Jewoo

    I saw the game of brazil scotland, and it was pretty neat it wasn't bad.
    I also think your right. Brazil needs a good striker right now and Neymar just fits there. Neymar will become one of the best strikers of the world in couple of years.

    March 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  35. marcos

    Well I think Brazil has even chance of winning, but it still lacks a high-level attacker, and another for me to WC 2014 will be from Brazil, playing at home, and not to talk that has nothing to do, come to Brazil and see how the games are. The crowd makes all the difference. But of course we have much to do to become Brazil qo hexacampeĂŁo the world

    March 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  36. steve

    yep good article....personally i think good strikers seem to possess lot of grit.....romario ,ronaldo even roanldinho seemed to have a fair bit of mongrel about them.........neymar remindes me of robinhio....when team dominates he plays well and showboats , not convinced inspires rest of team when under pressure.......big test will be joining a big team of great players where you need fight and perform under pressure.....my punt is he will find it hard

    April 1, 2011 at 1:23 am | Reply
  37. lusubilo mwenelupembe

    I watched the game but i am of the view that the current Brazil team is full of players with alot of individual skills and poor team coordination.for the striker Neymar can perfom better if the team works on cordination. He is a big rising star to watch in the coming years.

    April 1, 2011 at 7:27 am | Reply
  38. diogo bernardes

    Olha há tempos, não vejo uma reportagem tão completa, sem ficar achando que a seleção Brasileira é superior as outras.... o que não se é faz muito tempooooo......Sr. Pedro meus PARABÉNS pela matéria. O Brasil não vai ganhar nada. O futebol hoje é resultado, vejamos o que a Holanda está fazendo.....mais cedo ou mais tarde eles serão os próximos com certeza a serem os Campeões do Mundo.......

    April 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  39. diogo bernardes

    Mrs. Pedro...
    The Best .... comment in Brazilll....
    Netherlands is the best in football... number one

    April 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  40. dony

    probably the biggest problem is the reconctruction of the Brazilian national team, practically Brazil lost 4 years with Dunga (Meneses is building a new team), it makes me remember the process that Brazil suffered between 1990-1994, but now is worse they will not play qualifying matches, and Brazil is look in South America like a good team , but behind Argentina ( which in my opinion with Batista coaching it , are the biggest contender for 2014), but we will analyse better the process in a couples of years

    April 3, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  41. H.Cold

    I think Brazil will take a lot of trouble to win the Cup again. Neymar isn't enough to cover this weak team.

    April 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  42. SĂ©rgio

    What about Hulk? He is the best!

    April 4, 2011 at 2:01 am | Reply
  43. Pinto da Costa

    Hey Pedro you don´t know jack about football.

    April 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  44. Alexandre

    about the banana thrown into the field in the match against Scotland. i remember clearly the TV media was trying to entice some response from Neymar, but he would just say something to the effect of: "- yah, that was sad. but just let just forget about it, guys, not a big deal for me."

    somehow they managed to "create news", just after the match it seemed he was not bothered about it at any rate. someone must have enticed the Brazilian body to claim (mistakenly) the Scottish FA should apologize.

    April 5, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  45. me

    NEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!

    April 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  46. wilson william

    Brasil will win worldcup easily

    April 16, 2011 at 3:00 am | Reply
  47. MSC

    Go Corinthians.
    Lucas, striker ?
    My dear friend Pavan. You're completely out of your mind. Do not get blind, even if the situation calls you to the blindness. Lucas is an excellent player, however to be a World Brazilian Striker Champion, only the ones like: Romário, Pelé, Ronaldo, Garrincha.......and so on.
    (maybe a good midfielder).
    Corinthians till the end.

    April 22, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  48. him

    lmao spain won without a top striker?? david villa by far one of the most prolific strikers around...

    June 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  49. Babi

    Everybody says that Brazil will not win, I dont think it ... EVERYBODY WILL SEE, Brazil has a new time, with GREAT GREAT GREAT PLAYERS, AND YOOOOOOUNG, And everybody should say "thanks' to Brazil... We have a aw to protect other time, Call "status of the elderly." Kiisses, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BRAAAZIL, \o/

    July 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Reply

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