Neymar played mind games with Lionel Messi as he joked about defeating Argentina in the 2022 World Cup final.
The PSG forward revealed that he and the Argentine playmaker sometimes discuss meeting each other in the World Cup final.
Argentina and Brazil are the top favorites going into the World Cup in Qatar. While Argentina have gone 35 games unbeaten, Brazil possessed one of the most talented and imperious-looking squads going into the tournament.
The two superstars are currently teammates at Paris Saint Germain. They have been friends for the best part of a decade since Neymar arrived in Barcelona in 2013.
Speaking to The Telegraph ahead of the tournament, Neymar revealed the conversations they sometimes have – before declaring it a ‘pleasure’ to play alongside the Argentine and Kylian Mbappe.
‘We don’t discuss it very much, but sometimes we joke about crossing paths with each other in the final,’ Neymar said.
Neymar added that he had told Lionel Messi that he could upset him in the World Cup final and emerge as champion. The duo reportedly laugh off the comment.
Neymar equally brought Kylian Mbappe into the conversation, saying that he and Messi are among the greatest the game has ever produced, and it’s always a pleasure to play with both at PSG.
“Playing with Messi and Kylian is a huge pleasure. They’re two greats, with Messi long considered the best in the world,” he said.
Delving more into Kylian Mbappe, Neymar heaped praises on the France talisman, saying, “he is a young player who has been growing and also has a great chance to grow by playing alongside the best players in the world.”
Neymar said he had always chosen the path of playing alongside top footballers because the chances of winning games is high, and one can equally grow and learn in the process.
It should be recalled that Neymar and Mbappe recently got embroiled in a bitter face-off in PSG, leading to speculations that the duo were not on good terms with each other.
Apparently, tensions between the duo have been resolved, and they are back on their game, with both players being on top form for PSG.
Lionel Messi is also in top shape for PSG this season after a disappointing 2021/22 season.
Meanwhile, Neymar and Messi find themselves under increasing pressure to deliver for their two countries going into the World Cup.
Brazil have not lifted the trophy since 2002; while Argentina have not win the title since 1986 but were very close to winning it in 2014.
Meanwhile, Neymar said he has become better at dealing with the pressure that has been foisted upon him essentially since he was 17. The Brazil international said he has learned from his experiences.
‘You learn with everything you experience in life from your mistakes along the way. No one’s born perfect, and no one becomes perfect, but you grow as life throws obstacles in your way,’ he said. ‘So it’s much easier to deal with this as the person I am today compared to when I was 22 or 23.’
To be considered the greatest players to hail from the two footballing behemoths, it is thought that they will have to match the achievements of Pele and Diego Maradona and lift football’s biggest prize.
Neymar believes the biggest threats to Brazil’s chances of lifting their sixth World Cup are Argentina, Germany, Spain, and France.
The World Cup is full of surprises,’ he said. ‘You get teams that unexpectedly get very far even in the competition, even if many don’t believe in them’.
He further reiterated that Argentina, Spain, Germany, France, including Brazil are among the top favorites to win the World Cup
‘But I believe the favorites are Argentina, Germany, Spain, and France. I think those four, along with Brazil, are fully capable of reaching the final.’
Neymar added that England – the most expensive squad in the tournament – also have a chance to win the tournament. Neymar extolled the quality in Gareth Southgate’s side, notably Harry Kane.
It is likely that Brazil and Argentina, should they both, as expected, top their group, will meet in the semi-finals of the tournament.