Published: Thu, July 05, 2018
Sports | By Brandy Patterson

Neymar urged to stop acting, win titles to get Federation Internationale de Football Association award

Neymar urged to stop acting, win titles to get Federation Internationale de Football Association award

"He is probably the best player I have ever played alongside or against".

And so to Friday when Brazil, who have the joint-best defence at the tournament along with Uruguay, face a Belgium outfit who have been the most prolific with 12 goals scored.

Many teams would have wilted under the pressure as Mexico poured forward in the first 20 minutes just as they had in their famous 1-0 win over Germany - but Brazil were made of sterner stuff.

Brazil head coach Tite, left, talks to his player Neymar during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018.

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It looked like Neymar's game - or even his World Cup - could be over with 20 minutes to go.

Brazil superstar Neymar, who has scored twice so far to help set up a quarterfinal meeting with Belgium in Russian Federation, has been heavily criticised for a string of theatrical reactions when clashing with an opponent.

Neymar had already avoided the fate of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by helping his Brazil team get out of its group.

Neymar needed four minutes treatment after clutching his shin following a possible aggression by Mexican substitute Miguel Layun although TV replays show that any contact, if I existed was extremely slight.

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However, with his side trailing 2-0 and seemingly crashing out of the World Cup in a huge shock, Martinez reacted just in time to save Belgium's chances of lifting the World Cup for the first time. It is noteworthy that the last two goals against Japan were scored by players who came on as a substitute.

Russia, ranked a lowly 70th in the world, will play Croatia in the last eight after similar drama in Nizhny Novgorod, where Luka Modric saw his spot-kick saved late in extra time before his team held their nerve to defeat Denmark in the penalty shootout.

Belgium were emphatic in the second half, but right before Chadli's goal, Japan actually had a short spell of dominance.

"Neymar is a star player too", Maradona said.

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Tite also played a big role in the victory over Mexico, deciding to replace Philippe Coutinho with Firmino.

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