International Friendlies: Brazil vs Croatia, 5 Talking Points
Neymar returned to action after a long injury layoff with a bang as he scored a stunner to set Brazil on their way to a comprehensive 2-0 win over Croatia.
After a sluggish first half that saw the Blazers hold their nerves and fight valiantly, the PSG's stars introduction after the break changed the whole complexion of the match and the Seleccao suddenly burst into life.
Croatia were subsequently forced to stay back in their own half for large spells, but couldn't stop Neymar from getting on the scoresheet. A raft of substitutions deep into the match alleviated the intensity, but Roberto Firmino sealed a win with an injury time strike.
There's plenty to ponder here. But let's focus on the 5 main talking points of the match:
#1 Neymar’s return is a massive boost for Brazil
Out of action for almost three months with an injury, Neymar finally got back into the thick of the things when he replaced Fernandinho ahead of the second-half. It was a massive boost for Brazil, who were fretting over the fitness of their talisman until a few days ago. But his introduction was a welcome sight and it reflected in the spurt in their momentum.
Suddenly, the Seleccao were buoyant in their proceedings. They were more threatening going forward and Coutinho’s subsequent shift back into the midfield allowed Neymar to take control. Following a few promising first touches and incisive passes, the PSG starlet then tried to test the Croatian backline with a few shots, before going full pelt in the final few minutes.
Skilfully evading his marker, Neymar cut inside from the left and struck with absolute venom, as the ball hit the underside of the bar and crashed into the back of the net. That was the goal Brazil were waiting for; the fans were waiting for. And the 26-year old not only broke the deadlock but also turned in a highly encouraging performance today with the World Cup just under 2 weeks away.