Thursday, 11 August 2016

Neymar under fire as Brazil start Olympics on back foot – but win over Denmark eases pressure

"Resuscitated," read the front page of sports daily Lance! on Thursday morning, which seemed just about right. After the choking tedium of the games against South Africa and Iraq, Brazil breathed life into their Olympic campaign with a 4-0 win over Denmark – a result that restores belief, even if it will not fully neutralise doubts.

On the face of it, the key moment of the game was Gabriel Barbosa's scuffed opening goal, which settled the nerves and allowed the hosts to go about their business with a renewed sense of conviction. But of greater long-term significance may be the third goal, scored by Luan, not because it was an especially memorable finish but because its construction suggested that Brazil's most potent attacking force might be awaking from his slumber.

In my latest for ESPN FC, I look at a tough couple of weeks for Neymar and explain why his critics should be careful what they wish for.

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