The three people who are under the most pressure to deliver a World Cup title:
Despite being one of the most talented players to ever grace the football pitch, Neymar is still missing a piece from his legacy – an international title. Although Brazil won the Copa America in 2019, Neymar never played a single minute due to injury and many still don’t put the PSG forward in the debate with R9 or Ronaldinho as the greatest Brazilian until he can accomplish an international title. The south American giants go into the tournaments as the favourites but can Neymar, who has failed to bring home a Champions League for PSG, deliver and finally lead his beloved nation back to its rightful belonging on the world’s biggest stage?
The England manager, who has never won really the hearts of the England fans, finds himself under an umbrella of criticism as the Three Lions come off the back of an embarrassing relegation in the Nations League.
Southgate’s tactics and squad selections have continuously been questioned despite reaching the semi-final and final at the last World Cup and Euros respectively, losing the latter in an agonising penalty shootout. Critics argue that Southgate struggles to overcome the better teams during crunch time and given the squad he possesses some feel a manager with a higher pedigree could maximise its full potential. Despite the criticism, Southgate has been England’s most successful manager in almost 56 years. However, if England fall at the final hurdle once again, it wouldn’t surprise me if a new coach was given an opportunity. Can the men’s team match the women and bring football home?
I call them the “PSG of International Football” because they have all the talent in the world but they always seem to fall short when expected to do better. For example in Euro 2016, Belgium was famously knocked out by Wales in the quarter-finals and at Euro 2020, the Red Devils lost to winners Italy but many predicted a Belgium win. At the last World Cup, Martinez’s side was very unfortunate to narrowly fall at the semi-final hurdle to France, despite a great performance. But, this is surely the last opportunity for this golden generation of Belgian players who are nearing the end of their peak. Martinez, who left Everton on bad terms, could write his name in Belgian history by delivering their first international title.