The 2014 World Cup is finally set for lift off, with hosts Brazil to take on Croatia in São Paulo’s Arena Corinthians in the opening game of Group A later this evening. The buildup has been extensive, with the 32 qualified teams going through a rigorous preparation period to ensure their respective World Cup ambitions have the best possible foundations.
For Luis Fillipe Scolari’s Brazil, this ambition has a name, and 22-year-old Neymar is ready to set the place alight.
The upcoming tournament will be the greatest test of the Selecao’s golden boy, and if he can live up to expectation, immortality awaits him on July 13th in Rio, able to join the likes of Pele and Romario as Brazilians perceived to have played a defining role in bringing the World Cup ‘home’.
While the Brazilians may trust their star striker to deliver the goods, ‘William Hill’ has decided to test our faith in the 22-year-old with some tantalising odds.
For new customers, Neymar is 4/1 to score anytime against Croatia, and considering that the youngster has the opportunity to earn demi-god status in his home country this summer, a flying start against the European side looks to be on the cards.
The fact that the trophy will actually be contested in Brazil means Neymar will be in the unique position of fighting to keep it, rather than to ensure its new destination, with this the second time the tournament has been held in the South American country; and considering the way Brazil 1950 turned out, Neymar will have over fifty years of pain resting on his slender shoulders.
No pressure then!
Luckily for the Selecao, Neymar seems to glide through life, unperturbed by the everyday pressures he faces. His highly controversial £49m transfer from Santos to Barcelona last year (and the ensuing crisis) had little bearing on his game, as he was a dangerous, versatile commodity in his first season for the Catalan side.
He is prolific for the national side, scoring 31 times in just 49 games since his senior debut in 2010, and is certainly in form at present. In Brazil’s last friendly, against Panama, Neymar curled in a delightful free-kick, and set up teammate Hulk with an outrageous back-heel!
Neymar will be backed up by a strong supporting cast this evening, with Chelsea duo Willian and Oscar part of a vibrant attacking line looking to ceremoniously rip Croatia apart in Sao Paulo.
Niko Kovač’s side are no weak link in the World Cup chain, but considering the wave of excitement and expectancy Brazil are currently riding on, anything but a win for the Selecao would be deemed a shock; it’ll take a lot to prevent the mischievous little dynamo Neymar from taking his first step to greatness tonight.
We’re backing Neymar at 4/1 to score anytime against Croatia. Claim your £20 bonus when you sign up to William Hill as a new customer.
Be sure to check the very first episode of William Hill’s ‘Football Brasilia’ below, with that man James Richardson talking all things Coppa del Mundo over the coming weeks…
Be sure to check out the Soccerlens World Cup 2014 Guide for comprehensive buildup and coverage of the tournament this summer!