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Neymar a match for Messi on Day of the Goal

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Tim Vickery | 14:46 UK time, Sunday, 11 March 2012

A Brazilian journalist this week came up with the thoroughly sensible idea that 7 March henceforth be commemorated as world football's Day of the Goal.

It was not only the date on which Lionel Messi chalked up his five for Barcelona in the Champions League; in the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, Neymar of Santos also added a magnificent hat-trick of his own.

The first was nothing to write home about - a penalty which was perhaps harshly awarded. But there can be no quibbles about the other two. Both times Neymar picked up possession in his own half, cut through the defence and ran some 70 metres before scoring.

The goals showcased his extraordinary control over the ball while running at pace, his capacity to understand space and improvise with its possibilities inside a fraction of a second, and also his eerily cool finishing.

Neymar

Neymar (left) could be to the Copa Libertadores what Messi is to the Champions League. Photo: Getty

One goal was a right-footed finish, the other a left. Both of them serve as a convincing declaration of a rare talent.

There can be few qualms about the opposition either. Santos were playing fellow Brazilians Internacional in a clash between the last two winners of the Libertadores.

Some will point out that Internacional have fielded stronger defensive units than the one they put out on Wednesday.

It is a fair point and it is also true that so far Neymar has found it difficult to produce moments of this quality when playing for Brazil - observations that make him one of world football's most fascinating narrative strands to follow over the next few years.

There is no doubt that the talent is all there. But how will he cope when pitted against better, stronger defenders, in spaces reduced by higher defensive lines, and with less protection from the referee? How will Neymar fare when he is up against the best?

Of course, he has already had one such experience, when his Santos side took on Barcelona last December in the final of the World Club Cup. They were brushed aside even more easily than the 4-0 scoreline might suggest. But it was hardly Neymar's fault.

How could it be when his team barely had the ball? This was not an individual failure, it was a collective one.

"I came back from Japan after our defeat by Barcelona convinced that we need to renew our football," said Santos president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro.

"We spend a lot of time gazing at our own belly button. We were beaten by a new football that we didn't know."

Implicit in his comments is a criticism of the coach Muricy Ramalho. Hugely successful in Brazilian football, Ramalho loves to talk about how hard he works. But after studying Barcelona for six months, there was little evidence of progress.

He merely sent out his team with the formula he knows best - three big centre-backs, hope to hold the opposition at bay and break out with a goal from a counter-attack or a set-piece. As his team were torn to shreds he cut a pitiful figure on the bench.

The warning signs were there in a big interview he gave a few weeks earlier to Brazil's sports daily 'Lance!' when he came across as complacent.

European coaches, he said, were only worthy of seven out of 10. To get top marks they would have to succeed in the Brazilian context - with an insane calendar, sub-standard structure and unpaid wages.

Since he has thrived in such conditions, it was clear that he was awarding himself the full 10.

It was a silly thing to say, firstly because it makes a fetish of poor working conditions, as if they are the true test of quality.

Secondly, because taken to its logical conclusion, it would mean that Brazilian coaches are the worst in South America and Bolivians are the best, because they have to work with the weakest players - and this surely was not Ramalho's intention.

He plumbed new depths in the press conference following the match against Barcelona, when he said that the defeat his side suffered would not have the slightest effect on them. After waiting six months to be measured against the best and then to have been massacred in such a manner, his words were fooling no-one - least of all, as it turns out, himself.

Over the last five years, with three different clubs, Ramalho has won four Brazilian titles and the Copa Libertadores. No-one is lucky for that long. There are clearly merits in what he does - and it now seems likely that the experience of coming up against Barcelona has shaken him out of his complacency.

Alongside the performance of Neymar, the most interesting thing about Santos last Wednesday was the way they pressed Internacional in midfield, with clusters of three and four players aggressively advancing to close down the opponent in possession.

This is not a normal part of the Brazilian game and it was surely influenced by Barcelona, as was the make-up of the midfield. A team can only put so much energy into winning the ball if it knows that possession will not be given away cheaply. Unlike many contemporary Brazilian midfields, all four of the Santos quartet are comfortable on the ball.

Their pressing was not perfect. They probably would have had more problems if opposition coach Dorival Junior had remained true to his convictions and sent out a team that sought to impose itself rather than contain.

As it was, Internacional were able to expose the defensive weaknesses of Santos left-back Juan, once of Arsenal, and could easily have scored three times from passes played inside him.

Even so Santos were well worth their 3-1 win and it was fascinating to observe the development that has taken place since they lost to Barcelona. It raised hopes that if the two teams manage to retain their respective continental titles then the final of this year's World Club Cup might be a more interesting affair.

Perhaps Neymar, as well as Messi, would have a platform to show his skills - and then we really would have a day of world football to celebrate.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week. From last week's postbag:

Q) In the English media there are suggestions of interest from Liverpool in Jackson Martinez, a Colombian striker who plays for Jaguares in Mexico. Do you think he's got the necessary attributes both as a professional and as a personality to achieve success in the Premier League or elsewhere in Europe? Jay Wynn

A) He's an out-and-out goalscorer, a front-to-goal centre-forward who can finish off both feet, and with excellent spring that makes him a threat in the air. Something of a late developer, he burst into life three years ago when he broke scoring records in Colombia with Medellin, and has since carried that form into Mexican football. The Premier League is a step up, though. His touch and general approach play are not great, and the worry would be that he might not build up a head of steam to feel confident about his game.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Phil what do you make of the prospects of young Sergio Araujo of Boca Juniors? He seems a terrific talent, namely with some standout performances in the under 17 world cup in 2009, but recently his career seems to have stalled

  • Comment number 2.

    Neymar has long way to go to be mentioned beside messi, good player though!

  • Comment number 3.

    Whoop! Great blog Tim, What I would like to know is, what do you make of the development of London's new Brazilian midfielder's, Ramires and Sandro. Both are coming close to becoming regular starters, and if they keep the form they have could they force Lucas Lieva out of the Brazil set up?

  • Comment number 4.

    1

    It's tim by the way!

  • Comment number 5.

    Tim I offer my full apologies it's been a long day at work!

  • Comment number 6.

    No chance. Did you not see the Confederation Cup? Barcelona and Messi took apart Santos and Neymar like they weren't even there. And you would've thought Santos would have given them a little bit of a game - but no.
    Neymar will never come close to achieving what Messi has already.

  • Comment number 7.

    you cant compare messi and neymar. messi is playing well in one of the best leagues in the world and the best competition in the world (champions league), whereas neymar is playing in a very poor league and copa libertadores is no match for the european teams. we all saw what happened in the world club cup where an understrength barca team cruised past santos in 2nd or 3rd gear

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Sorry Tim but no just no. I've watched Neymar play quite a lot in recent years while over in Brazil and he is no where near the player Messi is. He also has a horrible tendency to go down easily and his general on and off field antics put him more in the bracket of Ballotelli who is another grossly overrated player because of his character. I think Neymar would be just above average at best if he played in any other league outside of South America. Would fit right in at Chelsea with all of those other egos though.

  • Comment number 13.

    Comparing these two players? REALLY????

    One plays in one of the best leagues in the world and performs highly in the CL.. the other plays........ that's right, in a rubbish league. Dear me.

  • Comment number 14.

    Tim, do you think Brazil need to revolutionise their football? Having watched a lot whilst in South America the games seem years behind the level played in Europe at the moment..is that down to funds though?

  • Comment number 15.

    People here a little one eyed. Sure Messi plays in a better league but also has the best players in the world around him. To know what happens when he doesn't have a look at the World Cup when he played for Argentina, did nothing in first few games then was marked out of the game against Germany. He's a great player but no Maradona... Yet.

  • Comment number 16.

    Some extremely harsh comments on Neymar here. I think he's an extraordinary young talent, and Brazil's next superstar. Yes, perhaps the direct comparison with Messi at this precise moment in time is ill-judged, but I think that Tim Vickery is referring mainly to Neymar's potential and his raw exciting talent.

    I don't like the way that Messi fanboys dismiss any other player than their beloved Lionel as rubbish. It's as if no other player apart from Messi is allowed to be acknowledged as talented or praised as a virtuoso. Sure, Messi is a great player and the fact he is now seriously mentioned in the company of football's modern greats Pele, Cruyff, Maradona and Zidane says it all about his ability- but come on, football also exists outside Barcelona and there are other talented players in the world. You don't have to obsess about one player all the time, no matter how good he is.

  • Comment number 17.

    Good blog Tim as usual.

    Let's just see if Neymar can deliver on his potential.

    As #9 points out he certainly is a precious one.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re: comment 12:

    "He also has a horrible tendency to go down easily and his general on and off field antics put him more in the bracket of Ballotelli who is another grossly overrated player because of his character."
    --------------------------------------
    All true enough but he is still a special talent and a great prospect, to say that he would be "just above average" in Europe is getting a bit silly.

  • Comment number 19.

    whilst we all marvel at Messi and his skills... no one thought Ronaldinho could be bettered from his Barca days


    It does help that MEssi has been with Barca since a young age and knows the people he plays with and credit should go to Guardiola for playing to his strengths

    The problem Messi as with Argentina is they ( Maradonna and the last manager) never found a way to play to his strengths when you consider the ridiculous attacking line up they have in Aguero ( Maradonna's son in law), Tevez, Higuain and they play a completely different system

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Cristiano Ronaldo because he is on a ridiculous scoring run just like Messi and he's having to fit into a team that is full of egos and trying to fit a round hole into a square peg which Jose has managed to do somehow

    off course nice to see Pele mention that Messi needs to score about 1200 goals and win 3 world cups to be mentioned in the same breath as him .... sour grapes perhaps.

  • Comment number 20.

    I was at the Scotland-Brazil game at the Emirates and Neymar showed the best and worst of his game that day. He is supremely talented but also was going down in ways that Christiano Ronaldo would have blanched at, and his refusal to apologise for the accusations of racism against the Scotland fans was disgraceful.

    One thing that has always impressed me about Messi is that he is almost never petulant. He gets kicked up and down the park and for the most part picks himself up and gets on with it, something Ronaldo and Neymar do not do.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ronaldo and Neymar together can beat selfish Messi anytime!

  • Comment number 22.

    I think what makes Messi truly and uniquely special is his attitude, both on and off the field. Whilst others are more ego/publicity/image based, he is all about the football. Never interested in being caught on camera with a beautiful woman, ridiculous baseball bat/sunglasses combos, or tweeting about every little aspect of his life and thoughts in a narcissistic fantasy dreamworld, Messi just wants to play football. And play it well!

    Neymar is a magician. His goal of the year last year was simply ridiculous. He can do things that only a handful of players in the history of the game could even think about. However, and it is a big however, skills and tricks alone are not enough to be considered as the greatest football 'player'. Until he can prove himself in a league that is full of players as quick of him, refs and a refereeing system that does not protect him, and defenders that are (because of previous point) not scared of him and the whistle, then he has a lot to prove.

    I don't mean to knock Neymar but, as many have said, and said about many, he is no Messi. Perhaps we should just accept him as a great player, without the need to compare. Ronaldo is seen as not good enough, largely by his own fickle Madrid fans, simply because he is no Messi. Must we do it to every great player that comes along? Look what it did to every single great Argentinian player after Maradona. All were dismissed as disappointments just because they were not, as they once promised and were tipped to be, the next Maradona.

    .....until Messi!

  • Comment number 23.

    Perhaps we should just accept him as a great player..


    No, a great player is someone that does something on the great stage like the CL.. or a good league.

    Why is it that we believe the hype from the media? He is good, in a rubbish league, nothing more.

  • Comment number 24.

    Will be a good player and no doubt big name in world football over the next decade, but nowhere near as good as Messi, now or ever.

  • Comment number 25.

    The best comparison would be to place Messi in the current santos side and place Neymar in the current barca side.
    Its hard to predict, since none of the players have played for a different club so far - but I have a feeling that Neymar would come out with better statistics - he would score more goals, win more cups and get more attention.

    Remember Neymar is 5 years Messis's junior, and even though ssantos has good facilities you can't compare that with what is at barcelona.

  • Comment number 26.

    I thought we settled all this hype at the World Club Cup - Neymar is a long way off ever being in the same league as Messi at the moment.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think what makes Messi truly and uniquely special is his attitude, both on and off the field. Whilst others are more ego/publicity/image based, he is all about the football. Never interested in being caught on camera with a beautiful woman, ridiculous baseball bat/sunglasses combos, or tweeting about every little aspect of his life and thoughts in a narcissistic fantasy dreamworld, Messi just wants to play football. And play it well!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Utterly agree. Football being a sport of opinions and debates, never will there be a case when everyone agrees with each other. Yet I share the same view here. Also why I have such admiration for Zidane. I dont care about their house their cars or their perceived images of themselves. I do not see them as role models, and I cant stand those always chasing publicity a la beckham.
    What I admire in a player its his ability to play the game I love, the way we all tried to play it when we were kids. For that reason the likes of neymar, and ronaldo will never come close to those that love football for what it is and not for what it gives them.

  • Comment number 28.

    In all fairness like Pele said, until Messi wins a World Cup (which quite frankly won't be happening anytime soon with the current Argentinian squad or during his playing career) he can't be considered the greatest (if there is such a thing) Neymar is improving and has a chance of winning the 2014 WC if Brazil get their act together

  • Comment number 29.

    9. At 17:32 11th Mar 2012, The Tenth Beetle wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Neymar was absolutely spot on about the Scotland fans. Behave yourself(yourselves). :rollseyes:

    I was absolutely flabbergasted to see, watching Youtube, that the biggest match in Scottish football was punctuated by racist chanting and abuse, right up until the early 1990s. Unbelievable!

    The only reason why racial abuse and behaviour from the Scottish fans has stopped, is because of Orwellian laws and regulations within British society and football.

    The ''Tartan Army'' won't be winning any Nobel Peace prizes, that's for sure! :shakeshead:

  • Comment number 30.

    20. At 19:52 11th Mar 2012, cruachan11 wrote:

    and his refusal to apologise for the accusations of racism against the Scotland fans was disgraceful.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Umm... why should he apologise for telling the truth? :strokeschinthoughtfully:

    No, just like the bandwagon hopping Irish ''fans'', you're not going to get a free pass on your unconscionable fan chants and behaviour.

  • Comment number 31.

    Let's not forget that, tabloid nonsense aside, Messi was probably the player of the tournament at South Africa 2010.

  • Comment number 32.

    No reason why Neymar cant match Messi one day. Yeah he's playing in Brazil, but all he can do at the moment is impress against the opposition that's in front of him, no more, and that's what he seems to be doing. I'm excited to see Neymar develop. Also, I cant believe someone said Messi is selfish in comparison to Ronaldo?! Unreal

  • Comment number 33.

    29. At 21:29 11th Mar 2012, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    -------------------------
    But the Scottish fans were booing him because of his diving antics and general Suarez-style brattish histrionics. Not racial taunts. And Neymar was mistaken and misunderstood the boos. Or am I mistaken?

  • Comment number 34.

    your all still forgeting that throughout his carrer neymar still has an average of a goal every other game in club and country carrer which is quite remarkable for a 19 year old isnt it? no doubt messi is better but the future could be neymars look 3 years ago when ronaldo was the best and he messi develoed better as could neymar to him

  • Comment number 35.

    23. At 20:09 11th Mar 2012, darkstarrrrr wrote:

    Why is it that we believe the hype from the media? He is good, in a rubbish league, nothing more.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Whilst your description of Wayne Rooney is apposite, I think that Wayne has never really been rated by the connoisseurs of the beautiful game. At least, not beyond the brainwashed acolytes of the Ferguson/United cult.

  • Comment number 36.

    33. At 21:38 11th Mar 2012, Tom Halstead wrote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh, behave!

    In the same way, I suppose, that Celtic fans were booing, and throwing bananas at, Mark Walters in the late 80s/early 90s. :scratcheshead:

  • Comment number 37.

    28.
    At 21:18 11th Mar 2012, sagat4 wrote:

    In all fairness like Pele said, until Messi wins a World Cup (which quite frankly won't be happening anytime soon with the current Argentinian squad or during his playing career) he can't be considered the greatest (if there is such a thing)
    __________________________________________

    Who set the criteria that you have to win the world cup to be considered the best player ?
    Pele talks out of his backside quite a lot

    Eusebio had a better strike rate than Pele and they played at the same time, in fact Eusebio´s Benfica trounced Pele´s Santos.

    Overall a mystifying blog . How can you compare the two ? unless Tim Vickery has not watched a lot of Messi over the last few years.

  • Comment number 38.

    32.
    At 21:37 11th Mar 2012, Worthless_Peon wrote:
    ___________________________________

    I dont think Neymar has the mental toughness to be considered one of the worlds best. If he moves to Europe he will go the same way as Ronaldinho , but much faster.

    Ronaldo has a huge ego but he has the mental toughness along with incredible drive and self belief.
    Messi is humble , he has the same qualities as Ronaldo , he just about edges it over Ronaldo for me.

  • Comment number 39.

    I've always been doubtful of Neymar, of whom my brother is a massive fan. He has all the flair, speed and skill to make it in Europe...but Brazilian footballers in the last 10-15 years have always been the most volatile sort.

    There is a huge number of Brazilians who have been raved about that have somewhat disappointed when it comes to becoming 'the best player in the world' let alone the best of all time.

    I've yet to see what makes this boy any different from Adriano, Denilson, Edmundo, Rafael Sobis, kerlon and to some point Alexandre Pato, who's career has stuttered in recent years and many in Italy believing his time in at Milan coming to an end due to his consistent injuries - a flick through YouTube of any of the above names will show clips of magic just as good as the Neymar ones...

    I think my point is that there is no point comparing him to Messi until he has done something of merit...Messi from 17/18 was already leaving everyone open mouthed and at just 24 seems like he has been playing forever, we potentially havent even seen the best of Messi.

  • Comment number 40.

    37. At 21:51 11th Mar 2012, repo wrote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Once again, repo, your opinions are firmly on the proverbial ball. Behave yourself!

    This nonsense about ''winning a World Cup'' to attain greatness is just that... nonsense.

    George Best was supposedly one of the G.O.A.T.'s, yet it's not his fault that his bizarre regional side didn't qualify for a World Cup or European Championship.

    George Weah was one of the finest footballers who I have ever seen, yet, once again, George's nation wasn't nearly good enough to qualify for World Cups, nor good enough to go the distance in the African Nations Cup.

  • Comment number 41.

    #31: How was Messi the player of the world cup in SA? did you watch the same Cup? he performance was poor as expected (not Barcelona remember). Sure he scored a hat trick in the latest friendly but the national team is a whole different ball game and they are not the favourites to win in 2014

  • Comment number 42.

    35
    Ah soul patch, you are a classic example of how patriosm has crashed and burned in this once great country. Unless of course you are not British?

  • Comment number 43.

    @38
    no denying Ronaldo's talent but for someone to say Messi is selfish, when you see his Barcelona performances, compared to Ronaldo, is shocking.

  • Comment number 44.

    43.
    At 22:04 11th Mar 2012, Worthless_Peon wrote:
    __________________________

    Messi does actually lose the ball quite often , usually by being crowded out by 3, 4, or 5 defenders.
    But he more than makes up for it with the incredible amount goals he scores.
    Maybe they mean selfish in that context ?

  • Comment number 45.

    40.
    At 22:03 11th Mar 2012, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    _________________________________________

    You could say Giggs should be in the same category !
    Dont forget , he is a phenomenal "scorer" on and off the pitch :)

  • Comment number 46.

    41. At 22:03 11th Mar 2012, sagat4 wrote:

    #31: How was Messi the player of the world cup in SA? did you watch the same Cup?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Behave yourself.

    If you had watched the Argentine games in the tournament, then you would get a greater understanding of the game, and my comments on it.

    Leo was the star of the tournament, with his idiosyncratic runs and creative goalscoring opportunities; it's not my fault that most of the Basset Hounds don't understand the ''ins and outs'', nuances and aesthetics of the beautiful game.

    #appreciatethebeautifulgame

  • Comment number 47.

    46.
    At 22:19 11th Mar 2012, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    _____________________________________

    Stop fishing !!!
    Messi did O.K., but was definitely not the best player in the tournament.

    The main problem was the eccentric approach to team management by Maradona who thought that he could win the WC with a tidal wave of emotion.

  • Comment number 48.

    45. At 22:16 11th Mar 2012, repo wrote:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, I would've included Giggs, but sadly we're talking about someone who disgustingly turned his back on his country.

    When I talk about Best and Weah, I think I talk about people who have, at least, a semblance of national pride in their country/region.

  • Comment number 49.

    47. At 22:25 11th Mar 2012, repo wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh, behave yourself!

    There's no ''fishing'' going on here (I'm a vegetarian), but if you think that Messi wasn't the best player at the 2010 World Cup, then I would suggest that you give up football, and perhaps take up lawn bowls.

    Clearly, a more sedentary sport is more your thing.

  • Comment number 50.

    No, a great player is someone that does something on the great stage like the CL.. or a good league.

    Why is it that we believe the hype from the media? He is good, in a rubbish league, nothing more..................................

    or on the World Stage, like the WORLD CUP,, the best always shown why they r rated has number one when ever it comes to the world cup,, Zidane, Ronaldo, Ronaldihno. worst if they have a bunch of stars around them. yes Messi is very very good but has to put him on a planet to himself is way over the top, when Ronaldihno was at Barca it was him carrying the team, people seems to over look the rest of the team, especially the same team mates them that shown the world that they r the best in WORLD CUP 2010.

  • Comment number 51.

    49.
    At 22:33 11th Mar 2012, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    _________________________________________-

    Well stop flaunting your nuts , most people think you are anyway !

    By the way Vickery hit the jackpot , with no McNulty blog his posting average will hit the roof.

    Bring back 606 !!!

  • Comment number 52.

    51. At 22:40 11th Mar 2012, repo wrote:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh, behave!

    I don't flaunt my ''nuts''.

    :scratcheshead:

  • Comment number 53.

    Hopefully we can have the good old times of Maradona vs Pelee again! Messi is already there I feel though, do not think he needs a World Cup medal as this day and age is much more competitive. Since Greece 2004, teams have very experienced managers, and just don't get rolled over so easily any more.

    More competing top talent out there, the better!

  • Comment number 54.

    50.
    At 22:36 11th Mar 2012, vidic da best wrote:
    __________________________________

    I read your post a couple of times . and I still cant understand it !
    Are you talking about Rooney ?
    Ronaldinhos team mates ´were mostly Italian in 2010 , and they did not win the world cup !

  • Comment number 55.

    he has proved himself on the big stage with 8 goals in 16 games for brazil?

  • Comment number 56.

    A really interesting piece as ever, Tim. However, personally I find the comparison of Messi and Neymar a little bit comical. To me it's like comparing Matt Le Tissier and Zinedine Zidane.

    Whilst Neymar is undoubtedly a precocious talent, he's like a tightrope walker who isn't prepared to pull the safety net out from under him by staying in Brazil, much like Le Tissier at Southampton. Meanwhile Messi, like Zidane before him, is the stand out player for the best team of his generation.

    I also think Neymar is detracting from what actually is the most interesting story in South America right now, which is in Santiago, not Brazil. Obviously I don't need to tell you about the success of Universidad de Chile in securing both the Apertura and Clasura league titles, along with the Copa Sudamericana as well. There is a very real possibility in my eyes that Jorge Sampaoli's side could go on and secure the Libertadores as well, which to put in European terms, would be comparable with Manchester United's treble of 99, or Barcelona's quadruple of last year.

    Not only that, but they'll do so by playing outstanding football to boot (how Gustavo Lorenzetti hasn't been picked for Argentina yet is a mystery to me) Anyway, a little bit of a late night tangent there!

    I'd hope that Neymar will quickly make the move to Europe so we can see a clearer comparison between the two, but until then, I think even mentioning both in the same breath is a little bit ridiculous.

  • Comment number 57.

    55.
    At 22:52 11th Mar 2012, jmanudavis wrote:

    he has proved himself on the big stage with 8 goals in 16 games for brazil?
    _____________________________________________

    Wow !
    2 goals against Ecuador in the Copa , the rest were all in friendlies.
    Is that proving yourself ?.

  • Comment number 58.

    a goal every other game is still a good record for a 19 year old in international terms ?

  • Comment number 59.

    I think that all those of you who are saying that Tim compared Neymar to Messi should read the blog again. What Tim says is that … “Neymar is a rare talent”. And he is right about that. But this does not imply that Neymar is at Messi’s level.

    What is true to say is that Neymar is taking Messi as his role model… hopefully in and off the field.

  • Comment number 60.

    58.
    At 23:02 11th Mar 2012, jmanudavis wrote:

    a goal every other game is still a good record for a 19 year old in international terms ?
    __________________________________________

    Fat Ronaldo had 15 goals in 20 games at his age.

  • Comment number 61.

    neymars international record is better than messi's record was whenhe was 19 and that is the only thing you can compare them on until neymar moves to europe which in my opinion can only strenthen his carrer

  • Comment number 62.

    61.
    At 23:12 11th Mar 2012, jmanudavis wrote:
    __________________________________

    When Neymar comes to Europe and scores 5 goals against a champions league team from one of the strongest league . Or he joins a team in one of the strongest leagues and averages a goal a game, then maybe we can start comparing.

    Personally I think he will spend more time at the nightclubs than on the training pitch.

  • Comment number 63.

    56.
    At 22:56 11th Mar 2012, thisbhoylikespieakapieman316 wrote:


    A really interesting piece as ever, Tim. However, personally I find the comparison of Messi and Neymar a little bit comical. To me it's like comparing Matt Le Tissier and Zinedine Zidane.

    Whilst Neymar is undoubtedly a precocious talent, he's like a tightrope walker who isn't prepared to pull the safety net out from under him by staying in Brazil, much like Le Tissier at Southampton. Meanwhile Messi, like Zidane before him, is the stand out player for the best team of his generation.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't really understand your comparison of Neymar/Messi with Le Tissier/Zidane either?

    Neymar is only 20. I can promise you he'll win a lot more caps for his country than Matt Le Tissier ever did (unfortunately)

    Also I think you probably need to look up what Zinedine Zidane was doing when he was 20. He was just finishing a four year spell with Cannes in the French league, where he had scored 6 goals in 61 games and he was uncapped by France.

  • Comment number 64.

    Messi is unusual though for me, you do not need to reach this 'level' to be a great. Name me one top coach who would not sign Robben, Ibra, Schevchenko, Kaka (pre-2010), T Mueller etc?

    All not as good as Messi, but then again, Zidane did not score as many goals and he's still a magician.

    1 or 2 posters have rightfully stated a World great has to tick the boxes of

    1) Playing in a 'competitive' league.

    2) Must have won a title, preferably more, and have played a significant role in gaining the prize for his team

    3) Scored a memorable goal, have an outstanding goal record/tally (strikers), or just be prolific at what he does (for defenders/midfielders, etc)

  • Comment number 65.

    60 –
    You got to be joking. At Neymar’s age “Fat Ronaldo” was on his way to become best player of the world TWICE. How bad can that be?

    If Neymar’s record at the Brazilian national team is not impressive (and I don’t think it is), the same applies to Messi. Both players have A LOT to prove at their national teams. But there is no point in saying they won’t. Personally, I just hope they both do. It would be great for football.

  • Comment number 66.

    54.
    At 22:49 11th Mar 2012, repo wrote:

    50.
    At 22:36 11th Mar 2012, vidic da best wrote:
    __________________________________

    I read your post a couple of times . and I still cant understand it !
    Are you talking about Rooney ?
    Ronaldinhos team mates ´were mostly Italian in 2010 , and they did not win the world cup !...............................................

    I'm talking about Messi's team mates in the Spain squad, they win everything there is to be won.

  • Comment number 67.

    65.
    At 23:24 11th Mar 2012, Luiz_from_Curitiba wrote:

    60 –
    You got to be joking. At Neymar’s age “Fat Ronaldo” was on his way to become best player of the world TWICE. How bad can that be?
    ____________________________________

    How am I joking , all I posted was that fat Ronaldo had a better goal scoring record than Neymar ?
    We are in agreement.

    Um abraço :)

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm really not quite sure about the 'performing on the World stage' bracket. Sure it's a great measure of a players ability. But some players just don't, maybe the National team is not set up for them, part of an overall poor National side, or they simply just aren't used to it. There can be many issues.

    Basically, to say players such as Berbatov, Le Tissier, Kaka, Oezil, Sanchez, Shevchenko are not great is a bit idiotic really, or just 'very strangely biased'.

  • Comment number 70.

    65.
    At 23:24 11th Mar 2012, Luiz_from_Curitiba wrote:

    You got to be joking. At Neymar’s age “Fat Ronaldo” was on his way to become best player of the world TWICE. How bad can that be?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not quite, Luis- at 20, he was just playing his season for Barcelona and on his way to winning his first award.

    The thing about Ronaldo though was that he was freakish- at 17/18 he was already big and powerful, an absolute beast, that power allied to his pace, finishing and supreme technique meant he could tear through defences. The only other teenager I've seen with that same physical advantage at that age - although I'm sure certain other posters will sneer- is Wayne Rooney.

    The downside of Ronaldo's physical size and strength were his weight problems later on in his career, particularly after his injuries.

  • Comment number 71.

    I get it, you have to write to stay on BBC's Payroll.. but seriously whenever a kid scores a couple of goals somewhere, you compare him to Messi-a player that has taken the game to another level. Sure Pele has won world cups, not even Pele is as technically gifted and intelligent as Messi is.

  • Comment number 72.

    Vox Populi wrote:

    I don't really understand your comparison of Neymar/Messi with Le Tissier/Zidane either?

    Neymar is only 20. I can promise you he'll win a lot more caps for his country than Matt Le Tissier ever did (unfortunately)

    Also I think you probably need to look up what Zinedine Zidane was doing when he was 20. He was just finishing a four year spell with Cannes in the French league, where he had scored 6 goals in 61 games and he was uncapped by France.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    My point is that comparing Messi, the best player on the planet in the world's best team, with medals, trophies and accolades coming out of every orifice with a player who is yet to leave his comfort zone of "home" is ridiculous.

    As good as MLT was, to mention him in the same breath as "Zizou" is completely unjustifiable. Much like Messi, Zidane would make pretty much every football fan's five greatest players list, alongside Pele, Maradona plus one.

    Neither Le Tissier or Neymar can get anywhere near that list, at least not yet in the Brazilian's case.

  • Comment number 73.

    70.
    At 23:34 11th Mar 2012, Vox Populi wrote:
    ____________________________________

    Fat Ronaldo and Messi are the best players I have seen in my lifetime. Closely followed by Ronaldo (the poser ) , Zidane , Cryuff , Maradona and Souness ( yes, Souness ).

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 72. At 23:36 11th Mar 2012, thisbhoylikespieakapieman316
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The point is Tim Vickery never said in the article that Neymar is as good as Messi. That was just the (misleading) headline to generate discussion (which worked). Did any of you even read the article properly? Primarily he was talking about Neymar's exciting play and his potential. These were the key paragraphs:

    "One goal was a right-footed finish, the other a left. Both of them serve as a convincing declaration of a rare talent."

    "There is no doubt that the talent is all there. But how will he cope when pitted against better, stronger defenders, in spaces reduced by higher defensive lines, and with less protection from the referee? How will Neymar fare when he is up against the best?"

    He then goes on to talk about Santos potentially meeting Barcelona again, and speculates on the improvements Santos have made.

  • Comment number 75.

    Defensive weakness of Juan once of Arsenal? What relevance is bring Arsenal into the argument? Juan played two games for Arsenal, one league cup and one f.a cup. Hardly a measurement of European footballing standards. However that aside, to talk of Neymar in the same breath as Messi is simply ludicrous, until he moves to a stronger league and proves himself its a mute comparison, Messi is a rare breed, and not too many Brazilian's find sustained success in Europe,

  • Comment number 76.

    74.
    At 23:42 11th Mar 2012, Vox Populi wrote:
    _________________________________

    That Russian player on loan at Fulham has scored 5 goals in 3 games. Including a hat trick , left foot , right foot , and a header.
    Shall we compare him with Messi ?

  • Comment number 77.

    @72
    Not sure Messi nor Zidane would make many top 10's if im honest, but it depends on what you're looking for in a player

  • Comment number 78.

    @71 Are you sure?

  • Comment number 79.

    Thing is there are many great players down the years, but since 2008, iconic players have been quite few, save for the Spanish.

    Anyone feel a worrying trend or slump beginning, where initially very talented footballers are just losing their way? Torres, Kaka and Dzeko come to mind. Grafite, Bale are others. Not quite consistent enough, but once, or still very good.

    And where do players like Lewandowski come into this? Artist, goalhanger, or simply just 'good at his job'??

    Euro2012 will reveal a lot more I'm sure.

  • Comment number 80.

    22

    Messi 2nd goal v Madrid in last years champs semi was better for me! Much more important and against higher calibre opponents. Why they couldn't see this I don't know! And to some going on about messi fanboys.....well.....it's really not worth the effort trying to explain to those who will never know or see why. Messi's goal and assist stats are more than that of xavi and iniesta combined so don't start with that myth please, brains have a purpose!

  • Comment number 81.

    @77

    Sorry Mark, but if you think Zidane wouldn't make most top 10s I'm afraid your judgement isn't up to much.... He's without doubt the best player I've seen in my lifetime as Maradona (at least at his peak) was a little before my time. Zidane would have got in any team in the world and made them better. In fact, he'd probably improve most teams even now!

  • Comment number 82.

    @76

    Arshavin ,]

    Hope not, hope he progresses, more good players the better. Always great to see an upcoming star.

  • Comment number 83.

    77.
    At 23:48 11th Mar 2012, mark wrote:
    Not sure Messi nor Zidane would make many top 10's if im honest, but it depends on what you're looking for in a player
    _______________________________

    Are you for real ?
    If Messi and Zidane do not make your top 10 please enlighten us on what qualities a player needs to make your top 10 ?

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    @73

    'Closely followed by Ronaldo (the poser )'

    Lol, n1. He's brilliant though, must agree.

  • Comment number 86.

    As a fluminense fan i have been very impressed with Wellington Nem so far. Playing with such players as Fred, Deco and Thiago Neves he has held his own. In the last game i saw, Flu lost 2-0 in the Fla x flu clássico and Flu looked to miss the creativity and ability that the said four players have.
    How well do you think Flu can do in the campeonato brasil and how good do you think Wellington Nem could become?

  • Comment number 87.

    31 agreed

    34

    Messi has been better than ronaldo since 2007, you just couldn't see it!

  • Comment number 88.

    @77
    Really? I don't deny Zidane was a talented footballer, but better at what he did or brought to the team or the world of football than Pele, Maradona, Best, Eusebio, Moore, Di Stefano, Cryuff, Maldini, Yashin, Beckenbauer? Ok

  • Comment number 89.

    @84

    Rossi?? Rossinilli?? Rossi-inii- who?? =D

  • Comment number 90.

    @88

    A 34 year old Zidane very nearly won the World Cup on his own in 2006. It's Maradona doing that in '86 which makes people consider him the best player ever. Forget about anything else he achieved (which was a lot, btw) but for that reason alone he becomes one of the greatest ever.

  • Comment number 91.

    Sorry comment 88 was aimed at 81 and 83 lol not at my own comment at 77 hahaha

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    @90
    Almost is an also run, so its a moot point.
    I didn't say Zidane was rubbish, but im my opinion there's others more deserving of the title. Ok in an all time best XI would Zidane really occupy yours? These lists always focus on the glory positions, so lets rate him in his own small sphere, cos its not right he occupies a top 11 poll purely cos of his position

  • Comment number 94.

    Lads, read the blog AGAIN.
    There is no comparison between Neymar and Messi at the blog.

    Messi is mentioned twice at the blog. And the first time was to say that a brazilian reporter proposed “7 march as world football's Day of the Goal” because Messi scored 5 goals while Neymar had a hat trick. Therefore the blog’s title was “Neymar a match for Messi on Day of the Goal”.

    Is it that difficult to understand???

  • Comment number 95.

    89. At 00:03 12th Mar 2012, Avonns wrote:

    Rossi?? Rossinilli?? Rossi-inii- who?? =D
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh, behave!

    Just watch out. You may get a magpie thieving your belongings!

  • Comment number 96.

    #35 ...I think that Wayne has never really been rated by the connoisseurs of the beautiful game. At least, not beyond the brainwashed acolytes of the Ferguson/United cult.

    How many times have you seen Rooney play, live? Maybe "a more sedentary sport is more your thing."

  • Comment number 97.

    Neymar is talented and potentially world class.
    Still a lot more development and growing needed to match Messi or C. Ronaldo.
    He is probably closer to C. Ronaldo than Messi. Both are more selfish, both are dribblers who would rather not past to teammate. Both are quite arrogant.

    Neymar in 3-4 years time will be world class.
    Only after the World Cup 2014 though. If Brazil are relying on Neymar as the saviour to win them the World Cup, this will hinder his development as it puts him under unnecessary pressure.

    Messi is undisputed number one and C. Ronaldo a very close second. Neymar is still far away from both for now. The Brazilian league and Copa Liberdatores is no where near top European standards

  • Comment number 98.

    @93

    By that logic Cruyff is out too then, right? I can't buy that I'm afraid. Besides, Zidane was the difference between France and Brazil in 98 anyway, so he had done it, I was just pointing out he nearly did it again despite being 34.

    As for lists, all I said was Zidane was the best player of my life time. Could I honestly compare him to Pele? Well, no. Same as Best/ Cruyff/ etc etc.

    However, if you're asking me if he'd be my first name on my team sheet in an all time 11, then the answer is yes.

  • Comment number 99.

    Oh dear oh dear. This blog reminds me of the Brazilian media. They make too much of Neymar and not enough of other valuable players Brazil has. Ganso is even more valuable than Neymar, with one pass Ganso unlocks a team´s defence that Neymar does not always dribble past, yet Neymar is the big star.

    While Neymar has really extraordinary talent and potential, Messi is a lot better and at the current way things are going, will always be better. Neymar scored two goals against an Internacional side sporting a poor defence that backed off Neymar as he ran at them. Messi faces some of the best defences in the world, even though the reason for all the recent hype was him scoring 5 goals against one of the worst defences I have ever seen. In Neymar´s case they backed off him and let him do his worst, in Messi´s case they did not attempt to mark him until it was too late. None of this takes away the fact that both have extraordinary talent but Messi has more and has proved so against much better teams, teams that would easily beat Santos. Messi´s head is also firmly planted on his shoulders, Neymar´s is up in the clouds and this makes him cocky and arrogant. The press help him with this too.

    Once again Tim also finds a way to big up the oppositon to make Barcelona´s normal and expected thrashing of Santos look like an achievement. Muricy Ramalho won with São Paulo, the best team at the time and one favoured by referees, Fluminense, who only won because they tripped up less than other teams and the bad refeereeing ddn´t help the rivals either, and Santos, this was actually a very good achievement. No-one is lucky for that long? Well, welcome to Brazil and after realising how the Brazilian league works you realise that although it is not luck, it certainly is not always talent either.

    Santos closing down players in midfield is not Brazilian? I agree. Brazilian´s are not known for their defending prowess but to say that this was definately influenced by Barcelona is going a bit too far. Overstating Barcelona´s talents is getting a bit boring now. Fluminense pressed Flamengo´s midfield in the Fla-Flu derby, were they influenced by Barcelona too? Doubt it. Fluminense managed to press Boca´s midfield for some time in their Libertadores game, was that influenced by Barca? Doub it too, even though Boca can really play the ball to each other nicely. Fascinating to observe the development since Barcelona beat Santos? What development? Reading too much into Barca´s achievements is also getting boring as is overstating Neymar´s talents.

  • Comment number 100.

    36.
    At 21:48 11th Mar 2012, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:

    To say that the attitudes of Scottish society haven't changed in the last 20 years is, simply put, wrong. If they were mocking him because of his ethnicity why was every player who shared that ethnicity not heckled? Because the Scottish are not a nation of backward prejudiced lunatics as you would like to desribe but dislike the theatrics and play acting which seems to be all pervasive in the upper echelons of football, which unfortunatly, has now trickled down in to other leagues.

    I've read your posts on this site and you can sometimes be insightful but not on this occasion and you can ask me to "behave", stroke your chin, head, whatever or hashtag some psuedo intellectual witticism to try and patronise me but your armchair research means nothing to me, the scottish people are on the whole a fair and just society and I won't see them painted otherwise by your sweeping generalisations of the British.

 

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