Two young number 10s – Neymar and James Rodriguez – have the hopes of their respective nations resting on their shoulders in Fortaleza. Colombian Rodriguez is being compared to his Brazil counterpart during this World Cup and with good reason.
Although Neymar is ahead of him in general terms, the Colombian is right up there with him during this tournament. Neymar is a global star and Rodriguez is not quite there yet. They are both 22 but the Brazilian is at one of the biggest clubs in the world, Barcelona, and arguably the best footballing nation in the world. But I’m sure the lad can catch him up.
I’ve been very impressed with Rodriguez and his general ability on the ball. His movement is very good too, he sometimes plays on the left, or off the front man, the inter-change in positions is causing lots of problems for defenders.
His ability to manoeuvre the ball is fantastic for such a young player, and to show that ability on the world stage is fantastic. He’s had a lot pressure from a young age – Monaco paid near 40m Euros for him at the age of 21 – but he seems to thrive on it.
His repertoire of goals has been impressive. He scored one against Japan when he left the lad on his back and then lifted it over the keeper. He scored a great header against Ivory Coast and then got a poacher’s goal when he tapped it in at the end of a lovely team move and he scored the 25-yarder scorcher against Uruguay, which is a contender for goal of the tournament.
I’ve been asked if he could play in the Premier League but that’s difficult to say. The Premier League is a totally different type of football from the World Cup and playing in France for Monaco. Would he fit in to a Premier League team? I don’t know.
But he has shown he can he can be flexible in the way he plays for Colombia. But we’ve seen it so many times when players have had to fit in to different systems and they’ve not been able to do it.
Neymar is carrying huge expectations at this tournament but he seems to be doing fine. He needs someone to step up with him. I was hoping it would be the likes of Oscar, who’s had a fantastic season with Chelsea, but at the moment it looks like all the hope is resting with Neymar.
While Neymar has had all the praise, Fred’s come in for some stick. He’s got one goal but he’s a poacher and you don’t really see that in the Brazilian style of playing. That’s why people are saying he shouldn’t be in the team.
I feel sorry for him because people want more flair and he doesn’t give them that. Brazil have changed the way they play and Fred plays a vital role for them. As I’ve said before, I never worried about criticism if the manager was happy with me, and Fred is being played so it looks like the manager is happy with him.
Beating Colombia is going to be a very difficult task for Brazil. Colombia are going from strength to strength. Brazil found it really tough against Chile and it will be even harder against Colombia. However, Brazil have been my tip all along and I’m sticking with them!
Striking stats: How the two No10s compare ….
Neymar – Caps 53, Goals 35
Rodriguez – Caps 26, Goals 10