Former Brazil International Julio Baptista at the FIFA Football Awards in London says that Brazil’s problem at the World Cup in Russia was because the manager did not choose a player in form like Roberto Firmino ahead of Gabriel Jesus.
“The world Cup is so tough and needs players that can be in the right moment going into the tournament. So for me, Brazil should have had the Liverpool striker Firmino ahead of Gabriel Jesus. This is not saying that the Man City striker is not good enough to play for Brazil at the World Cup, just saying he was not at the same level as Firmino.”
Brazil were knocked out in the quarter-final by Belgium. Gabriel Jesus started all the matches but ended up not scoring a goal. “The World Cup is too short and needs all the players to be in their best moments. They have to be at the highest levels of confidence mentally, for me that was Firmino.”
With a non scoring number 9, Brazil needed Neymar to come through. Julio Baptista feels the PSG Forward was not fit enough “People sometimes talk a lot about Neymar because he is a big name and an incredible player. However, before the World Cup he suffered an injury in the league and did not play for nearly 2 months. When that happens, recovering to the good condition, the best condition to go play at the high level needed for the World Cup is so tough”.
The former Real Madrid star believes “The World Cup is so hard and all the eyes of the world is on you to perform so a player like Neymar had so much to do. For me, he still did a very good World Cup but we know he has enough ability to have done much more, that injury hindered him for sure.”
With Lionel Messi missing at this FIFA Football Awards Baptista thinks a new generation of players are rising up to take over from the Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly of the last decade. “Kylian Mbappe for sure will be ready to take their places. Neymar too when he is fully fit while of course (Mo) Salah will look to show consistency to be among them. Football is covered and ready for the transition from Messi and Ronaldo”.