In a recent interview for the Brazilian newspaper O' Globo, international star Neymar came to the defense of FC Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi against a wave of criticism surrounding the awarding of the Golden Ball to the Argentine.
Neymar: Messi was one of the best players in the World Cup
07/22/2014
 
Jun 17, 2014; Fortaleza, Ceara, BRAZIL; Brazil forward Neymar (10) encourages the crowd during the second half of their 0-0 tie with Mexico in a 2014 World Cup game at Estadio Castelao. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2014; Fortaleza, Ceara, BRAZIL; Brazil forward Neymar (10) encourages the crowd during the second half of their 0-0 tie with Mexico in a 2014 World Cup game at Estadio Castelao. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY SportsUSAToday/Winslow Townson

In a recent interview for the Brazilian newspaper O' Globo, international star Neymar came to the defense of FC Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi against a wave of criticism surrounding the awarding of the Golden Ball to the Argentine. 


The Golden Ball is given to the player considered to be the best in the tournament - and playing in the final is a requirement for the award. 


Messi himself was critical of his team in having reached the penultimate match of the tournament but ultimately being unable to prevent the German side taking the prized cup back to Europe. 


Critics included FIFA president Joseph Blatter, and even Argentine legend Diego Maradona.

"I am a big fan of messi, as a footballer and as a person"
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22 year old Neymar has never hidden his admiration for Messi nor for fellow Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano, and even publicly declared his preference for Argentina to win the World Cup after Brazil was eliminated. 


In a home interview in his residence near Sao Pablo, Neymar not only defended the performance of the Golden Ball winner, he named him one of the top three players of the tournament, closing the list with Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Netherlands star Arjen Robben.

"I don't know if it's fair or not, but he (Messi) has been one of the best players of the world cup. He scored very important goals for argentina"
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The disappointing performance of the Brazilian national team was also a focal point, after the stunning 6-goal defeat to Germany. 


Neymar admitted to the squad's poor performance but stopped short of blaming manager Luiz Felipe Scolari for the debacle, indicating that he would have picked the same 23 players.

"Brazil played badly. now we are behind germany, spain... but I still believe that the brazilian players are the best of the world"
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Neymar is now taking time off and focusing on recovering from his tournament-ending back injury suffered at the hands of Colombian player Juan Camilo Zúñiga. Though the young Brazilian may have accepted Zúñiga's apologies, he remains of the opinion that the tackle was not purely accidental, claiming, "that was not football." 


Neymar is already looking forward the next meeting in Russia for 2018, should politics allow it.

"I will be 26 years old, I will do anything to be in that cup"
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