Brazil coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, has hit out at the ‘special marking’ which his superstar Neymar is receiving during the World Cup.
Neymar was caught in the fifth minute against Chile, but managed to play the full 120 minutes and converted his penalty to send Brazil into the quarter-finals.
Scolari believes the fouls on Neymar are targeted attempts which he has already seen happening to Cristiano Ronaldo when he coached Portugal.
“I have already experienced this before at Euro 2004, when I was the Coach of Portugal,” Scolari is quoted by the Gazzetta dello Sport today.
“Then it was Cristiano Ronaldo in the viewfinder. Always subject to ‘special’ marking. I remember that in the semi-final against the Netherlands he was hit hard after just five minutes. And he was forced to quit in the second half.
“Neymar is undergoing the same treatment as Cristiano. Every game he ends with swollen legs. After five minutes of the game against Chile he was hit violently.
“I do not know how he managed to keep playing extra time and to not lose focus when he kicked the winning penalty.
“He has been a hero. But I do not know if he will recover for Friday against Colombia.”
However, Scolari also praised the 22-year-old for his mental strength as he is carrying the hopes of a whole nation on his shoulders.
“He is a young man of 22, with the experience of a man of 35. He is mentally strong, he does not collapse under stress,” the Selecao boss added.
“He loves to play with the ball and this happiness helps him to experience in the right way these special moments.
“Neymar is playing as if he were taking a penalty kick with his shirt off playing on the beach in Santos during an afternoon with friends.”
Do you think opponents are deliberately trying to foul Neymar? Have your say in the comment section below.