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Rock-solid Brazil living up to billing as World Cup favourites

05 July 2018

In between, he writhed in agony on the turf after a Mexican opponent appeared to stand on his ankle, but the referee ruled there had been no foul and Neymar was soon on his feet and sprinting.

Many teams would have wilted under the pressure as Mexico poured forward in the first 20 minutes just as they had in their famous 1-0 win over Germany - but Brazil were made of sterner stuff.

After he dived in a bid to win a penalty against Costa Rica in Brazil's second match, Tostao, a striker in the legendary 1970 World Cup-winning side, encouraged coach Tite to have a heart-to-heart with the player.

But what's upsetting many fans is the theatrics accompanying the knocks, as Neymar works overtime to milk the moment.

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"Sometimes in the World Cup you want to be ideal, but in knockout football it's about winning and they showed a winning mentality".

Neymar has now been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 19 appearances for Brazil, featuring 11 goals and nine assists.

"I think it's a shame for football", Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio lamented afterwards, saying Neymar's antics had wasted precious time.

Belgium had to come from two goals down to beat Japan 3-2 in Rostov-on-Don and will now face Brazil after a stunning comeback.

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Neymar has had an unspectacular World Cup so far, although by no means unproductive. "He is a magnificent player", said Shearer, who is working in Russian Federation for the BBC. "We need players like Neymar in the game but not like this". He also extended his platform to show the world he is as good - or better - than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

"I do not know how to stop Neymar - he is very unpredictable", Meunier admitted after setting up the late victor in a thrilling 3-2 round-of-16 victory against Japan in Rostov-on-Don on Monday.

"You have this character, the camera goes to him after the game, he has this kind of attraction, and all I can think about is, I wish this player didn't play".

Belgium were emphatic in the second half, but right before Chadli's goal, Japan actually had a short spell of dominance.

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Brazil are usually thought of as an attacking team but, in fact, they take very few risks, usually parking three players on the halfway line even when they win a corner, and on Monday they allowed Mexico to enjoy 53 per cent of possession.

Rock-solid Brazil living up to billing as World Cup favourites