Brazil World Cup legend Zico has tipped two young playmakers to star in the showpiece tournament which kicks-off later today in São Paulo, as well as discussing the impact of heavyweights Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Writing in his weekly column for The Guardian, Zico talked about the importance of players being able to absorb the psychological impact of such a demanding tournament and how, in relation to this, youthful exuberance may be key.
Believing there are several youngsters who could bring something special to the World Cup, Zico highlighted two playmakers that can make a difference – and one, naturally, wears the famous gold, green and blue.
The first that comes to mind is Oscar. A lot of people in Brazil and around the world go on and on about Neymar and forget how important Oscar is for the Seleção. Tactically, he actually shares the creativity burden with Neymar.
Oscar has amazing technique and I am impressed by how easily he constructs play. Oscar’s reading of the game is also developed and the way he positions himself for short passing exchanges is hard for markers to predict. His finishing can be elegant, as some of his goals in England and Europe prove.
Italy aside, the only other country with a World Cup pedigree to match the Seleção is Germany; and in light of Marco Reus unfortunate injury, the other young playmaking star to impress Zico may have to make an even greater impact.
[Mario] Götze is a player who impresses me by the quality of his positioning above all. People tend to forget how crucial is the ability to find yourself with space to operate in at a time where it’s a rare commodity.
Götze also has great technique and it is interesting to watch him play. He is a very versatile kid and there is even talk that Germany could use him as a false No9 to compensate for the lack of strikers in form. All I know is that he had a very good first season for Bayern and certainly has enough quality to play in a different role.
One player Zico feels hasn’t benefited from playing in a different role for his club team is Neymar, with the Brazilian legend reserving some stern words for Barcelona’s use of his young compatriot.
The first season in Spain would never be easy but one thing that didn’t please me was the fact he was played out of position at Barcelona. That Neymar is so much more lethal on the left side should not be a secret and it was certainly one of the reasons he was signed by the Catalan club.
That he is a great player does not mean he can play anywhere on the pitch. Whoever has played football professionally knows you shouldn’t tinker with a player who excels in a certain sector of the pitch. Some players are comfortable in different places but Neymar’s correct position is on the left. Unless there is an emergency, I see no point in trying to change where he will be deployed.
Brazil’s former number 10 concluded that whilst the current wearer of the shirt is important to his country’s chances of winning a record sixth World Cup, his absence would not affect the team in the same way it would if Argentina had to do without the undisputed best number 10 currently playing.
Neymar is the greatest player in Brazilian football at the moment but his situation is different from, say, Lionel Messi’s. While Argentina are organised around Messi, the Seleção do not depend so much on his Barcelona team-mate.
Of course Neymar is very important for Brazil’s chances at this World Cup. A player of his class would be missed by any team. The question here is that Neymar’s absence would not change the way Brazil are playing under Luiz Felipe Scolari, while an injury to Messi would certainly have a bigger impact for Argentina.
Zico does believe the fate of the tournament ultimately lies with Lionel Messi, who he says is:
A player talented enough to decide the outcome of the World Cup.