- POSTED: 15 Jun 2014 01:56
Brazilian striker Neymar has played down talk that a yellow card in the World Cup opener against Croatia will force him into a less aggressive style of play, with fans and backroom staff worrying that a second caution could see him banned from a vital knock-out match.
SAO PAULO: Brazilian striker Neymar has played down talk that a yellow card in the World Cup opener against Croatia will force him into a less aggressive style of play, with fans and backroom staff worrying that a second caution could see him banned from a vital knock-out match.
Neymar was lucky to escape with only a caution after elbowing Luka Modric in the throat midway through the first half of the 3-1 opening day win over Croatia.
But the forward said he would not hold back in the remaining Group A encounters with Mexico and Cameroon despite the fears about suspension.
"I am not worried, I am going to play to win the second game," he told reporters.
"It's not what I wanted but that's the way it is. It's all part and parcel. I am going to play my normal game. If I start thinking about it, that'll make it worse."
Until the last World Cup, FIFA erased all cards after the group stages. But since 2010 cards are accumulated until the quarter finals, meaning two cautions in the first five matches can cause players to miss key knock-out games.
Brazil fear that a caution for the young Barcelona striker against either Mexico or Cameroon would rule him out of the last 16 match, possibly against world champions Spain.
The winner of Brazil's group play the second place in Group B featuring Spain, Netherlands, Chile and Australia.
"He is the guy that usually forces other people to get a yellow, it's difficult to see him getting another yellow," Neymar's team mate Oscar said.
"We are going to do all we can to let Neymar play without worrying about this because we know that he is a player who can decide the game."
Brazil have won the World Cup before with some of their best players banned. In 2002, Ronaldinho missed the semi-final after being sent off against England.
Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the final to take their fifth World Cup trophy.
Neymar has picked up nine yellows in 50 internationals, according to the Lance! sports newspaper. Four of those came in his first 36 games, and five were picked up in the last 14.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie. Editing by Patrick Johnston)