'Neymar fell down a lot' - Lichtsteiner pleased with containing job on Brazil superstar

Buda Mendes
Switzerland were able to prevent the Paris Saint-Germain forward from making much of an impact in their World Cup opener, but deny rough treatment

Neymar has been accused of going to ground a lot during Brazil’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland at World Cup 2018, with Stephan Lichtsteiner suggesting that “every time he fell down it was a whistle”.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward was felled 10 times during Sunday's Group E clash at the Rostov Arena, with the Swiss defence well aware of the threat he posed.

It was suggested that the Samba star had been singled out for rough treatment on his first competitive start since suffering a broken metatarsal with his club.

Those in the Switzerland camp have denied that was the case, with Arsenal new boy Lichtsteiner claiming that Neymar was theatrical, not targeted.

He told reporters in the wake of a hard-fought point: “It’s very difficult playing him. He’s fast, he’s technical, you need to keep up with him all the time because he’s dangerous. It’s a big challenge.

“And I was a little bit worried about the referee. Every time he fell down it was a whistle, a foul so that was a bit of a challenge.

“You think to yourself 'don’t be too aggressive' because every time he goes down it’s a foul. So, because of that, I had to be a bit careful.”

Lichtsteiner added: “We are a mix I think. We are physical and we defend well - but we also attack. We showed that.

“We knew Neymar was a danger so it was very good teamwork on the right side with Valon Behrami, Fabian Schaer and me closing him down.

“It was almost a perfect game. It’s important to have this teamwork in the next game because we’ll have new situations.

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“Maybe it’s an advantage to play a big team like Brazil first in the group. Maybe they don’t know us that well, they don’t have the feeling for the tournament.

“The first game is never easy for a big team in the first game. But Switzerland have a good team - and we got a good point.”

Philippe Coutinho fired Brazil in front in spectacular fashion on Sunday, but Steven Zuber levelled for the Swiss after the match officials decided against using VAR for an apparent shove on Miranda.