The captain of the 2002 champions believes the Barcelona star is solely responsible for the Selecao's success this summer & says winning the World Cup won't solve Brazil's problems
By Julian Bennetts in Sao Paulo
The tournament hosts open their campaign against Croatia in Sao Paulo on Thursday and Neymar is their star man, having scored 31 goals in 49 appearances for his country.
The Barcelona forward, 22, copied Ronaldo’s haircut when the striker fired Brazil to their fifth and last World Cup 12 years ago, with eight goals in the tournament.
Cafu captained Brazil in 2002 and the former right-back believes Neymar is almost solely responsible for the Selecao’s results in this year’s tournament.
“It is different [with Neymar] to what happened in the past with Ronaldo,” Cafu told Goal. “There is much more pressure on him.
“When Ronaldo played in 2002 there were a lot of other players who had responsibility. They could handle pressure, and now just one person has a huge responsibility. He will be able to fulfil that, hopefully.
“Neymar is our 'crack' player, he is a Brazilian idol and he will be charged differently [emotionally] to the other people in the team.
"It is a big pressure but he is able to handle it. The first game will be a thermometer [for how the tournament will go for him]. Neymar is young but he is totally able to do it."
Brazil host the World Cup for the first time since 1950 but the build-up has been dominated by concerns over stadium delays, poor infrastructure and the cost of staging the tournament.
Striking workers in Sao Paulo over the last three weeks have used the attention of the World Cup to make themselves heard – and Cafu says victory this summer will not solve any of Brazil’s difficulties.
“Everyone is happy to have the World Cup and the nation would be glad if we won, but it won't solve the problems of our country,” Cafu added.
“The Brazilian people are not against the World Cup, they are against the way it was done and the public expenditure, the structures of the stadiums that would benefit the public if they didn't happen [and were spent elsewhere].”