Brazil must take advantage of having Neymar in his “best mode” at the World Cup, according to captain Thiago Silva.
Neymar heads to Qatar in supreme form. He has directly contributed to 26 goals for Paris Saint-Germain, scoring 15 and setting up a further 11 this season.
His tally of goal involvements is the joint-most in the top-five European leagues, along with Erling Haaland (23 goals, three assists) and club-mate Lionel Messi (12 goals, 14 assists).
With 75 international goals to his name, Neymar needs just three more to overtake Pele and become Brazil’s all-time leading scorer.
Neymar’s injury in the quarter-finals of Brazil’s home world cup in 2014 is often cited as a major factor in the 7-1 thrashing to Germany that followed in the last four, while he struggled to carry the team in Russia four years later, with the Selecao losing to Belgium in the quarter-finals.
But with Vinicius Junior, Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus, Rodrygo and Raphinha supporting Neymar in attack, Silva believes Brazil have to make their attacking quality count.
“Neymar has a good level for this competition,” Silva said in a press conference ahead of Brazil’s clash with Serbia on Thursday.
“Now, without injury or worry, we see a better Neymar. Best of all, he is humble.
“Our group has welcomed all of our colleagues and in my opinion they will make Neymar even more at ease.
“We will share our responsibilities as players and that will help us move forward. I think we need to take advantage of this best Neymar mode.”
An even fuller house for Tite’s press conference. Thiago Silva also coming to speak to the media. pic.twitter.com/MHVH08H2xe
— patricridge (@PatricRidge) November 23, 2022
It has been 20 years since Brazil won their fifth World Cup, and Silva – who was captain in 2014 but not in Russia – believes that only serves as extra inspiration.
“The 2002 win is a great inspiration for all of us,” he explained. “We have images of all the World Cups we have won and that’s a source of inspiration and motivation so we can continue making history.
“We know it’s up to us. I know those who could lift the World Cup in the past have had beautiful stories. It makes me even more motivated to honour our jersey.”
Silva believes the blend of youth and experience in Tite’s squad is ideal, as the 38-year-old claimed his experience of captaining Brazil in their disappointing campaign on home soil has only benefitted his own development.
He said: “Nowadays I am better prepared. Sometimes we need to learn the hard way.
“Our coaches can tell us but in the end we are the ones who need to learn from our experiences. I am calm, I am at ease, having the trust of all my colleagues.
“I’m now enjoying the best version of Thiago Silva. I think I’m living the best moments of my career.”