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Neymar can lead Brazil to World Cup glory, says Rivaldo

17:01 GMT+3 08/06/2018
Neymar Brazil Croatia
The talismanic forward has just recovered from his injury in time for Russia 2018 and his country's legend is very happy to see him back

Neymar can lead Brazil to a record-extending sixth World Cup trophy following his return to fitness, according to Rivaldo.

Former Brazil star Rivaldo is delighted to see Neymar back in action after the Paris Saint-Germain star underwent surgery on a foot injury sustained against Marseille in February.

The 26-year-old came off the bench for Brazil to provide the breakthrough in last weekend’s friendly against Croatia, as he scored in their 2-0 World Cup warm-up victory.

Rivaldo, who won the World Cup with Brazil and wore the same number 10 shirt as Neymar, believes that the former Barcelona attacker is now ready to make his mark in Russia.

"Today, Neymar is the most important player in the national team and I believe he is going to be the Brazil captain at the World Cup," Rivaldo told Goal during the Betfair road to Russia preview. 

"He is the number 10 player, the number 10 player has a special responsibility. It is the most demanding position, especially for us in Brazil in our history.

"The number 10 player is the star of the team and you have more responsibility. For the Brazilian media, and also for the rest of the world, everyone is looking for the player wearing the number 10 shirt. Neymar, I believe, is prepared and ready. He is going to play with the number 10 shirt again.

"Brazil needs a player like Neymar at his best on the pitch because Neymar on the pitch gives more confidence to the other players. He is the most talked about player in the world and I believe he can be the star to help Brazil now win the World Cup."

Neymar has risen to fourth in Brazil's all-time top goalscorer charts with 54 goals in 84 games, as he mounts a challenge to Pele's record of 77 goals in 92 games. 

However, he was absent for Brazil's humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany on home turf in the last World Cup due to injury. Rivaldo believed that a rebuilding job was needed after the heavy defeat and that Tite has given his side a platform for success since taking over as the manager. 

"I believe that, at the time when Tite arrived into the Brazil squad, it was very, very good news and needed to happen because Brazil was going through a difficult phase at the time with Dunga. Even though I don’t blame him but in football it is like this," he continued. 

"You can’t change 20 players, you have to change the manager, it is very difficult to pinpoint the blame. I think a lot of things were happening so, when Tite was brought in, I believe it was the right thing to do because he is very strong in his style and the way he thinks football should be played.

"The way he passed this to his players brought cohesion with his players. You can tell the players respect him and play the way he wants to play. That’s why Brazil is so much more confident and Brazil is stronger this time around.

“I believe they are strong enough to go and win the World Cup. I don’t know if it is going to happen but know that’s what I want."

Brazil face Austria in their final warm-up match on Sunday, before heading to Russia to face Switzerland in their opening World Cup fixture on June 17 in Rostov-on-Don.