Neymar declares Brazil the best team in the world but rejects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo comparisons

Sport staff
Neymar declares Brazil the best team in the world but rejects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo comparisons

Neymar, in his first press conference for the national team in nearly a year, insists Brazil and re the best team in the world.

Brazil are top of the South American World Cup qualifying for Russia next summer by seven points having won nine of their 13 games so far.

But the 25-year-old also admitted he had to mature and promised Brazil would be one of the favourites in the next World Cup in Russia.

But while the 25-year-old promised Brazil would be among the favourites for a sixth World Cup triumph next summer, he also admitted he had to mature a lot since they hosted the tournament in 2014.

"There was never a dependency on Neymar. This is Brazil. If focused, our team is the best," he said before the World Cup qualifying match against seventh-place Paraguay on Tuesday.

"There has been a big change. We now have more confidence to seek our identity and we did it. No matter when or where, Brazil will always be one of the favourites for titles.

"We know this, we are humble enough to respect our adversaries, we have to play. Sometimes one part or the other didn't fit. But coach Tite arrived and made adjustments. We are playing football. The players are not so different — it is the way of playing. Now everyone turns up."

But Neymar also accepted he had to change to get to the current level of play.

"We only learn when we get hurt or do something wrong. I already argued unnecessarily. I got yellow and red cards, harmed myself, harmed my teammates. But time makes us more mature. Nowadays I only think about playing football, I am better in every aspect," he added.

"Everyone needs time to get their heads straight so things calm down. I had my moment of being a little more silent, but now I am speaking again."

Although some already put him as future best player in the world, including big names like former Italian defender Alessandro Costacurta, Neymar rejected comparisons with multiple Ballon D'Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi.

"I don't feel comfortable to compare," he said. "They are two geniuses who have had colossal performances. I admire both. One is on my side every day, is the best I've played with."

"I was having a lot of difficulties in my beginning (at Barcelona). Then the best in the world said 'Calm down, it will all fall into place, play your game.' It was great for me.

"I was reticent about talking to an idol, but Messi helped me relax. We are friends and that helps on the pitch. I also get along with Luis Suarez, we always help each other. I am very happy for this moment that I am living."

Brazil will qualify for the World Cup with four games in hand at the Arena Corinthians if they beat Paraguay and see Chile and Ecuador fail to win.

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