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Why Copa America Title Is A Do Or Die Silverware For Neymar

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Brazil stepped up to stage the delayed 2020 Copa America after co-hosts Colombia were dropped because of civil unrest and Argentina withdrew after a surge in coronavirus infections with plenty of Political backlash to the decision.

A Brazil team that is playing in the Copa America at home on the back of a seven-game winning streak would normally be hot favorites to triumph but this is no ordinary year and no ordinary Copa America title.

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Photo Courtesy: Eurosports

Brazil’s run of form is impressive they are the only team in South America to have won six of their 2022 World Cup qualifiers and have done so by keeping clean sheets in five of them but it comes amid turbulence off the field.

The players took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) on Wednesday, barely a week after Brazil stepped in to host the tournament in place of Argentina, who pulled out after a surge in covid-19 cases.

The players said their protest was not political and they pointedly sought to avoid the left-right polarization that has beset the country in recent years and led to mass street protests.

A glance at Brazil’s recent World Cup qualification matches as well as their performance at the Copa America and an image of a much disciplined, mature and restrained Neymar can’t escape to be noticed.

Arguably one of the most talented players of current times, Neymar’s career, though laced with individual brilliance, has majorly left a dark spot after another, and at times he’s taken the fair share of the blame for his teams’ failures.

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Photo/Courtesy

The player, blamed for his teams’ failure to win as expected, Brazil included, also had to deal with a number of injuries that kept him off the pitch, but it is the controversies that have left a lot of questions on whether he is the right brand for what football should be.

At one point, he had to fight allegations of sexual assault, which were eventually proven to be false after a Brazilian woman he’d been with accused him.

His controversies cut across violent conduct to fans, rubbishing match officials in post-match comments that have seen him suspended as well as getting into needless arguments with his teammates, and he’s also lost some sponsorships with such controversies.

The fact that he’s never won a major honor with Brazil remains a stain Neymar wishes to wipe off his profile.

He did win the 2016 Olympic Games Gold, but when Brazil won the 2019 Copa America title, he wasn’t in the team.

Earlier, he sat on the sidelines in the 2014 World Cup as his nation was thrashed 7-1 by Germany at the semi-final stage, while he struggled in 2018 as Brazil fell 2-1 to Belgium in the semis.

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Photo/Courtesy

The 2020 Copa America feels like he can finally get his hands on a major silverware with Brazil, as well as break the all-time top goal-scoring record currently held by the legendary Pele.

It won’t be a walk in the park, though, as a strong Argentina also hopes to end a long drought without winning anything.

With all these at stake, the tournament is expected to hit fever-pitch after the group stages, whereby Argentina advanced to the semis after thrashing Ecuador 3-0 and will play Colombia who won on spot kicks against Uruguay, at the same time Brazil will play Peru tomorrow.

An experienced Neymar, without the on and off-field theatrics, is the fulcrum to ensure the Brazilian load safely gets home.

At Copa America so far, he has been key in attack, and his maturity is showing. He is well focused now, perhaps with lessons from the past and knowledge that he isn’t getting younger.

He has attracted praise from Brazilian legends and makes part of the big reason Brazil are considered favorites for this competition.

Brazil are the holders, having won the 2019 tournament when it was also played in front of their own fans.

 

I am a Multimedia Journalist with five years of experience from Digital to Broadcast Media{Radio and Television}. Interested in reporting Current affairs happenings within and across the borders. I have excellent attitude towards working with others and communication skills extremely patient and persistent with the ability to formulate unique ideas and hand eye co-ordination. Ability to work under minimal supervision, curious, hardworking and polite. In another life I am a News Anchor and Reporter.

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