While England’s match with Brazil will serve as an opportunity for Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson to learn some lessons ahead of his side’s World Cup double-header against San Marino and Montenegro in March, it will also give fans at Wembley the chance to get a look at Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea and Barcelona target Neymar.
The 21-year-old’s performances for the Seleção and club side Santos have long attracted the attention of Europe’s top scouts, but having resisted the lure of a big-money move across the Atlantic in favour of staying in Brazil, Neymar’s talents are perhaps under-appreciated by Champions League-loving audiences.
Back in Brazil, Neymar is seen as the country’s answer to Lionel Messi and it is hoped the youngster will help Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men win the World Cup on home soil in 2014.
One-time England boy wonder Theo Walcott is well aware of the hype – he singled out Neymar as Brazil’s “stand-out” player earlier this week.
But if you don’t know what all the fuss is about, here’s why England should be fearful ahead of the FA’s 150th anniversary match.
Ron Atkinson would have a field day if watching England v Brazil while still commentating for ITV – Neymar pulls out the Lollipop more often than an Aqua-obsessed DJ. But he’s not just a one-trick pony – look out for step-overs, feints, Cruyff turns and nutmegs.
Check out these examples – including an outrageous piece of control which leaves a defender bamboozled – in Santos’ recent match with Botafogo.
While one of Neymar’s favourite tactics is to stand, hand on hips, facing a defender before leaving him for dead, he’s not bad while running at full tilt either. And don’t let his slight frame deceive you – he’s not easily brushed off the ball, as this video of close control, trickery and composure shows.
Remember Denilson? Remember the Kerlon? Too much trickery and not enough end product, right? The same can’t be said for Neymar. Here he is proving that his talents extend to goalscoring, too.