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Brazil legend Ronaldo does not believe Neymar lived up to expectations at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and said his long spell on the sidelines in the buildup to the tournament adversely impacted his performances.
The Paris Saint-Germain star missed the last three months of the club season due to a foot injury and two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo believes Neymar was not able to play to his best as a result, per Jaime Alvarado Rios of Sport:
“We all expected more from him because he’s the star of the team. I don’t know if it was because of the operation he had on his foot or another problem, but I saw him as quite limited on the pitch. To arrive at a World Cup following an operation and three months out is complicated. To play the first match as if nothing had happened is difficult.
“He needs to learn from this World Cup. He’s 25 or 26. He’s young, talented and there’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.“
Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage by Belgium after going into the tournament in Russia as favourites.
Neymar, 26, netted two goals and provided one assist in 450 minutes of action but was unable to find a late equaliser in Brazil’s 2-1 defeat to the Red Devils.
He was widely expected to be one of the star players at the tournament, but he made headlines for spending time on the floor more than making telling contributions with the ball at his feet:
Squawka News @SquawkaNews
The last time that you will see Neymar on the floor at the 2018 #WorldCup. https://t.co/aAofYwUu7B
Jack Lang @jacklang
Now that’s a stat: Neymar has spent 13 minutes and 50 seconds on the floor during this World Cup https://t.co/PBLXwQlO9j
TRT World @trtworld
Neymar spent close to 14 minutes on the ground during Russia 2018. Now, a new challenge has hit the internet. Football fans dive and roll dramatically to troll the Brazilian. #NeymarChallenge https://t.co/HlWe5W6pqN
Per Sport, Ronaldo commented on Neymar’s propensity for play-acting: “I spoke with him about this a while ago. Five years ago I asked him why he did it. and he told me it was so the person fouling him couldn’t do more damage.”
Five-time World Cup winners, Brazil have now failed to make it to a final since the last time they won the tournament in 2002.
France booked their spot in the 2018 final by beating Belgium on Tuesday, and England play Croatia in the second semi-final on Wednesday.