Age: 22 (D.O.B: February 5, 1992)
Caps/goals 53 (35)
- Shares a birthday with Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Paolo Maldini
- In 2011 he led Santos to their first Copa Libertadores championship in 48 years
- Scored his 100th senior goal on his 20th birthday in 2012
- FIFA Confederations Cup 2013;
- Olympic silver medal 2012;
- South American Youth Championship 2011
- Superclasico de las Americas 2011, 2012
- Supercopa de Espana 2013
- Campeonato Paulista 2010, 2011, 2012;
- Copa do Brasil 2010;
- Copa Libertadores 2011;
- Recopa Sudamericana 2012
Neymar has long been laden with the responsibility of securing his nation a sixth World Cup but has handled the pressure thus far with almost ridiculous ease.
He bagged four goals in the group stage as he dragged a laboured Brazil into the knockout phase with some virtuoso performances but his most impressive act was the penalty against Chile. Under what must have been excruciating pressure, he sidled up and showed great composure to score what turned out to be the winning penalty.
He has also handled the pretty bruising treatment that he has suffered at the tournament admirably and his performances at the World Cup are all the more remarkable considering the underwhelming year he had at Barcelona.
Ramires: “Neymar is our genius. When we need him he takes on responsibility and brings tranquillity. He scored the penalty on Saturday with a lot of personality.”
Neymar's great at hiding it but those tears after the shootout tell you all you need to know about how much pressure he's under #SSFootball
— Mfundo (@TheRealMfundz) June 28, 2014
- - -
James David Rodriguez Rubio
Age: 22 (D.O.B: July 12, 1991)
Caps/goals: (26/10) Club: Monaco
- Rodriguez turns 23 on July 12 which makes him seven months older than Neymar
- Helped modest Banfield win their maiden Argentine league title as a teenager in 2009
- After winning three consecutive domestic titles and the Europa League with Porto, Monaco acquired Rodriguez for €45 million (£35.8 million) last summer. He scored 32 goals and had 21 assists in 105 games for Porto.
- Toulon Tournament 2011
- Primeira Liga 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13;
- Taca de Portugal 2011;
- Supertaca Candido de Oliveira 2010, 2011, 2012;
- UEFA Europa League 2011
- Primera Division Argentina 2009
His tally of five goals is a remarkable return – especially considering he had only scored five goals at international level prior to the tournament in 22 games. Not only does he lead the race for the golden boot but he has also scored the goal of the tournament thus far, which has been immortalised here:
Outrageous goals come easily to him though, here he is scoring direct from a corner at the age of 13:
According to Opta, his shots-to-goals ratio is an outstanding 62.5 % which is some 22.4 % higher than his nearest challenger, Bryan Ruiz. However, his game is not just about scoring goals as he can also create them – he has also provided two assists.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 28, 2014
Not everything James Rodriguez-related has been great though – take a look at this headline.
To give some context, Rodriguez is apparently named after James Bond, but his name is pronounced 'Hamez' which makes this headline even worse.
Former Colombia player Carlos Valderrama: "For many years people always ask me who will be the next 'El Pibe', the Colombians said the same too, the answer is James Rodriguez and he's already showing that he's earned this honour and will show this for many, many years."
They have both been so good that it is almost impossible to separate them. It could come down to who handles the pressure best – and, considering Neymar has been carrying the hopes of the home nation on his shoulders with apparent ease, it could be the Brazilian who prevails
- Sports & Recreation
- James Rodriguez
- Carlos Tevez