Flashscore Exclusive with Alemao: 'Neymar is not a leader for Brazil'

Flashscore Exclusive with Alemao: 'Neymar is not a leader for Brazil'
Flashscore Exclusive with Alemao: 'Neymar is not a leader for Brazil'
Flashscore Exclusive with Alemao: 'Neymar is not a leader for Brazil'
Ricardo Rogerio de Brito, known to most as Alemão, is now far from football, despite being one of the world's leading midfielders in the mid-1980s. After participating in the '86 and '90 World Cups in the Seleção jersey, he is currently involved in social work. Founder and first head of the 'Casa de Transformaçao Betania' in his native Lavras, in the state of Minas Gerais, the former Napoli midfielder is dedicated to the rehabilitation of drug addicts, but always has an eye on the world of football, especially when it comes to Brazil.

Every four years, a Brazilian dreams of winning the World Cup.

Right now, in a country that is also changing government, the Brazilian people are more distracted than usual. People do not believe so much in this team. The chances are there, but for me it will be very difficult for Brazil to win the World Cup.

The squad on paper is very strong.

But the team is not yet mature, it is too young. And it lacks a leader, a real leader.

Neymar is not?

No, absolutely not. Neymar is a great player, but he is by no means a leader who takes the team by the hand. Besides, Tite will play him behind the striker, where for me he renders much less than on the left flank, where he can be devastating.

Not even Thiago Silva or Dani Alves are leaders for this Brazil side?

Not for me. Leaders are others. In my time there were: Socrates, Zico, Edinho, Junior, Dunga, Careca. It was a much more solid team in that respect.

You played two World Cups, in '86 and '90, is this Brazil superior to yours?

Definitely to the one in '90, we were not very organised there. But that '86 was a great Selecao that only went out in the quarter-finals against France on penalties. I don't think the current one is any better.

Does the idea of playing Neymar and giving up a real forward convince you?

Neither does it. I repeat, for me Neymar is devastating from the left, but if you put him in the middle he often ends up catching the ball too far back, moving away from the goal and sometimes getting involved in personal actions, thus ending up suffering many fouls and becoming a normal player, not the phenomenon he can be. 

On the left, however, there is a Vinicius who now does what he wants at Real Madrid in that position.

Of course, this is Tite's problem, but I remain convinced that the best position for Neymar is on the left wing, closer to the goal. That is where he can really make a difference.

And yet, in this summer's preparation Neymar seems to have taken the best possible chance of making it to the World Cup.

Let's see if he has learnt from previous experiences and this could be the right time. I am convinced that a player like him deserves to win the World Cup, but he has not yet proved to be an absolute phenomenon with the Seleção.

Is Neymar on Messi's level?

They play a different type of game. Messi does not have Neymar's qualities but he is much more concrete and knows what he wants and needs to do. Messi hardly misses a ball, whereas Neymar sometimes misses with that extra touch, and that is not good.

Nevertheless, many say Brazil are the favourites.

I don't entirely agree. In my opinion the Europeans always have something more in terms of organisation, Spain, Germany, France, they are all tricky national teams that always compete. But Belgium and Croatia are not to be underestimated either. 

With these premises, one would think that the debut against a Serbia, on paper insidious, would frighten you...

Now let's not exaggerate (laughs). Brazil is a strong team and must absolutely pass as first in their group. And Serbia and Switzerland are two solid teams that have done well. Let's say it will be a good test. But if you want to win the World Cup you have to go through these tests.

The quality of the team is undeniable. Neymar, Vinicius, Paquetà, Richarlison, they are all talented players.

Yes, but I think something is missing in terms of mentality, strength of character. People cheer and will cheer, hoping for a victory, but there is no air of confidence. I remember the 2014 World Cup, at home. Brazil reached the semifinals against Germany without having played a single game well. That semi-final was a disaster, a tragedy, but it was also confirmation that the tactical project was not concrete.

Do you dream of a Brazil - Argentina final?

That would be wonderful (laughs), although I see it as very difficult.

Away from Europe, however, until 2002 only South Americans managed to win.

Lately, however, the situation has changed, as only Europeans have won the last few editions. We will see if this time a South American will win again after 20 years...

Finally, what do you think about the decision to play in Qatar?

It was a decision made from the point of view of economic convenience. Qatar is not a football country, and to create a scenario for the World Cup more than 6,000 people died in the construction of the stadiums. I don't agree with this decision at all, and I don't think there will be the same peaceful atmosphere as in other World Cups, when everyone could go and cheer freely.

Your heart, however, will be with Brazil?

"Claro! There is no doubt about that (laughs).