Want to feel old? Neymar, the phenom who is leading strongly-favored Brazil into their home World Cup, just turned 22 years old in February. For the last
year he has been playing with FC Barcelona. There is an embarrassment of riches on that squad ó Lionel Messi, the favorite to be the top goal scorer in the
tournament, is his teammate. So, can Neymar surpass his teammate and come out on top?
2014 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot Top Goal Scorer Storylines
Since Neymar is so young, he will be making his World Cup debut this year. His absence in 2010 was controversial. He had starred at the 2009 U-17 World
Cup, and there was immense public pressure to put him on the 2010 team, but he was left off. He still has plenty of international experience, though. He
made his debut with the senior team in a friendly against the Americans in August of 2010, and he scored in that game. At the 2012 Olympics he scored three
times and set up three more goals as his team won a silver medal. His real breakthrough, though, came in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. He scored
four times in five games, and he was named the Golden Ball winner as the best player in the field. Heís still so young, and he has clearly improved each
time he has represented Brazil internationally, so the sky really is the limit.
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Perhaps the biggest challenge Neymar faces here is the incredible pressure he will be under. Itís hard to imagine a team facing higher expectations
anywhere at any time than the Brazilians will face playing in the World Cup at home. This is life and death for the fans, and there is only one acceptable
outcome. Neymar is the emerging superstar of this team, and he is compared to the biggest names in Brazilian history ó are there are no shortage of those.
You can never be certain how a player will respond under that pressure, and you have to be especially concerned when he has never played in a tournament
like this and is relatively new to playing at the highest levels of international club soccer as well. He quite clearly seems to be a very special talent,
but he will have to be to perform under the weight of what he will face.
The one thing Neymar shouldnít have to worry about is having enough opportunities to score. Their group round is laughably weak. They are in little danger or
not winning their group, never mind not advancing. They should be able to win at least two of their three games in the preliminary round quite easily as
well. Their path to the finals wonít be the easiest it could be ó they could face Spain, Chile or the Dutch in the first playoff game, and they could run
into Germany in the finals. It wonít be easy, but Brazil is obviously good enough to go all the way, and the location is their biggest advantage. They are
the deserving favorites to win it all.
2014 World Cup Golden Boot Top Goal Scorer Betting Odds and Key Stats
Neymar is the second choice to win the Golden Boot and be the top goal scorer. Bovada has assigned him odds of 10/1.
Neymar has 30 goals in 47 international appearances with the senior squad. That is 0.64 goals per game. By comparison, Lionel Messi has 37 goals in 83
games, or 0.45 per game. Neymarís total is somewhat inflated, though. He has played few major tournaments, and the team didnít have to qualify for this
tournament. That means he has played more than his share of friendlies against outmatched opponents, and he has benefited from those opportunities.
2014 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot Top Goal Scorer Picks and Predictions
There is a good chance that Neymar can emerge as a superstar player of his generation, and this could be his first step. At this price, though, I just
canít bet that he will come out on top. His youth and inexperience concerns me in the face of the ridiculous pressure he will face. It also concerns me
that he could face some very tough teams in the elimination round, and that could lead to lower-scoring games. Also, there is so much talent on this
Brazilian team that he will face a lot of pressure from within on this race. Fred was the leading scorer at the Confederations Cup, and he is joined by
Hulk, Alexandre Pato, Oscar and Jo among the 30 players with the lowest odds to be the top goal scorer. They canít win every game 6-0, so not every player
will be able to score enough to justify the odds. I donít think Neymar is worth the risk from a betting perspective here. As a fan of great play and plenty
of scoring, though, Iíll be pulling for him.
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