Brazil's Neymar gestures during a press conference in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil on July 2, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Brazil talisman Neymar has described Colombia's James Rodriguez as a "great player" but hopes he and his team will overshadow the Monaco star in the World Cup quarter-final.
Both players have shone for their respective sides in the tournament so far, with James currently sitting top of the scoring charts with five goals to his name – one more than Neymar.
With Brazil aiming to claim a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup with a win over Colombia in Fortaleza, Neymar has praised James for his performances in the competition – but is hoping that he and his team-mates will be able to put an end to his fine tournament on Friday, writes goal.com
"I knew he [Rodriguez] was a great player before all this, and he's been showing all his talent in this [World] Cup," Neymar said.
"What do we have to do to fulfill our responsibilities at the age of 22? Just play football. There's no age for football. Experience helps, but I'm a 22 year-old guy who's been through a lot in life, I've learned a lot, so I've got some experience. All we have to do is get there and play football.”
"Colombia are a great team, they've been winning a lot, showing very strong power during the matches. James is an excellent player: he's a star, although he's very young, 22 like myself. He's been showing the great player that he is and we have to congratulate him for everything he's done.”
"But I hope his cycle ends in this World Cup now and that Brazil may continue – with all due respect, of course."
When asked which of the two players was better, Neymar said: "I don't know, I can't tell you that, but I hope Brazil overshadow him. Not just me, but the entire team."
Colombia's defender Juan Camilo Zuniga (L) and midfielder James Rodriguez take part in a training session at the President Laudo Natel Athlete Formation Center in Cotia, Sao Paulo, on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
The Barcelona forward has been integral to his side’s progression to this stage of the competition despite being under huge pressure.
And Neymar has admitted that he would rather forsake individual accolades in return for Brazil winning their record sixth title on home soil, describing appearing in his first World Cup as a "dream".
"On my first press conference here I said I didn't want to be the Golden Boot of the competition, that's not what I was after. I just want to be champion. If I play nothing in the next match and Brazil win 1-0, that's all I want. It will be fine by me," he said.
"Of course there's pressure in a World Cup, but to me, this is a dream. It's something I've always wanted, since I was a kid, when I saw Ronaldo with his hairdo scoring goals. I used to think to myself, I want to play in a World Cup, I want to be like Ronaldo, I want to win a World title.”
Brazil's Neymar (L), Maicon (C) and Ramires during a training session for the World Cup 2014 in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil on July 2, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
"And now I'm here. I don't have to keep thinking about the pressure, I have to enjoy it. We can overcome all this, we're playing at home, with our families and friends on the stands, and every supporter is on our side."