All the pressure is on Neymar

All the pressure is on Neymar

Whereas his country man, Ronaldo famously buckled under the pressure pre-final versus France 1998 I think Neymar faces a lot more responsibility and it is beginning to take its toll.

The Brazilian superstar has impressed in spells for Barcelona, mainly in the absence of Lionel Messi but having to carry the hopes of a nation, Maradona style and in his backyrad is a lot to handle at such a young age. Added to this he has not competed in a meaningful national game since the Copa America and only had had friendlies and the tiresome Confederations Cup to sharpen his edges.

I hope he doesn’t choke.

South American giants sneak into Copa Libertadores semi finals

Image

Universidad de Chile moved into the Copa Libertadores last 4 by overcoming La Libertad 5-3 on penalties. Despite going ahead through a Marcelo Diaz daisy cutter, free-kick on 18 minutes, Universidad gifted La Libertad an equalizer 4 minutes later with a Osvaldo Gonzalez own goal. In the end the Chileans had to depend on their keeper, Johhny Herrara to ensure their progress. Herrara pulled off a number of vital saves during normal time before saving Ayala’s decisive penalty.

 

As current Copa Suda-America champions Universidad de Chile are not exactly underdogs but they are not as recognisable as their semi-final counterparts.  Chile are now paired with Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors who overcame Fluminense 2-1 on aggregate.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg Boca surrendered their lead early in the first half when a deflected free kick squirmed into the bottom left hand corner. With game moving towards penalties it was Boca’s veteran and talisman Juan Ramon Riquelme that provided the inspiration with a weighted lob on to Rivero who shot low against the post. The Fluminense keeper, Diego twice managed to claw the ball away from the goal but could do nothing about Santiago Silva as he slotted home form 10 yards.

In the other semi-final Santos and Corinthians will battle out for Brazilian superiority and a final berth ensuring a Brazilian team will be in the final for the 8th consecutive year.

Knowing they had to overturn a 1-0 deficit to progress Santos struggled to break down a dogged Velez Sarzfield defence even after the Argentinians lost their keeper, Marcelo Bavovero to a straight red on 40 minutes. It was a needless challenge on Neymar who needed no greater invitation to go sprawling to the floor. The Brazilians finally levelled the tie through Alan Kardec tehn triumphed in the penalty shoot-out.

In the remaining tie Corinthians also left it late against country men Vasco de Gama. The tie was delicately poised at 0-0 from the first leg and sliding towards extra time when Paulinho headed in an Alez cross to send the Brazilian giants through.

Copa Libertadores semifinal schedule:

1st leg – 12th June

 Boca Juniors v Universidad de Chile

Santos v Corinthians

2nd leg – 20th June 

 Universidad de Chile v Boca Juniors

 Corinthians v Santos