World Cup: Neymar ready for the world

World Cup: Neymar ready for the world

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY

BRAZIL 4

(Neymar 27, Dani Alves 40, Hulk 46, Willian 73)

PANAMA 0

A star is already born. But he might be made at the World Cup.

Neymar picked off Panama as if they were no more than a mild scab. His performance suggested he's capable of healing a fractured nation.

He illuminated a one-sided friendly yesterday morning (Singapore time) with an exquisite goal and an assist, but his country craves more, needs more. And Neymar appears content to play provider and peacemaker. 

Whether it's confidence or youthful innocence, the 22-year-old appears indifferent to the demands of an agitated fan base.

Brazil are under a searing, oppressive spotlight to deliver. They must appease a protesting country and yet Neymar knocked the ball around like a kid on Copacabana Beach.

His play was fun to watch. And there was so much fun in his play.

Nothing fazes him. Nothing riles him. He plays above the fray, as if the trials and tribulations of the common man are somehow beneath his talent, not worthy of his time or attention.

Zinedine Zidane shared similar attributes; the aura of the authentic superstar; the men who make magic as a matter of routine.

Perhaps the Panamanians were hardly a suitable yardstick to test Neymar's World Cup credentials, but he displayed a similar indifference to the suffocating pressure surrounding last year's Confederations Cup final.

He squashed the Spaniards then. He played around with Panama yesterday. He'll treat Croatia no differently in their Group A opener next week.

Opponents' names are small print, a trivial concern for others to fuss over.

He lives in the moment, not the minutiae. It's all about Brazil.

When Neymar sees yellow, he sees red. The rather timid kitten of Barcelona's tiki-taka is replaced by a Brazilian beast.

The Selecao shirt acts as both bullet-proof vest and superhero costume. He is impervious to pressure, an unstoppable force for good. He delights in the audacious.

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