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Neymar, Brazil, and the Weight of Expectation

  • WSJ.com, Tuesday, May 20, 2014 4:32 PM
If Neymar, who had a tepid, if injury-blighted first season with Barcelona, is feeling the pressure, he has yet to reveal it. "We suffer pressure in all of the things we do," he says in an email interview with the Journal. "It's normal in life, but if you're an athlete, this pressure is bigger because you are an example for many people. I suffer pressure since I decided to become a player, but it's a pleasure for me to play a World Cup in my country to my people."

There is pressure from all sides. Earlier this month, national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari accused Barcelona of trying to unsettle Neymar, who was recovering from injury, in order to benefit the Spanish national team. Last weekend, Neymar played just 30 minutes in the club’s crucial La Liga finale against Atletico Madrid. The game ended 1-1, and Barca surrendered its title, finishing second to the visiting team.

As the Journal story notes, Neymar will have many more chances to win the Spanish league with Barcelona, but he will only have one chance to lift the World Cup on home soil.

Even the great Pele, winner of three World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1970) with Brazil, balks at the weight of expectation. "We didn't have this pressure," he tells The Wall Street Journal. "It was not my responsibility to win the World Cup."

Read the whole story at WSJ.com »

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