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Soccer-Neymar can't win Cup on his own, says Parreira

Reuters

By Pedro Fonseca and Rodrigo Viga Gaier

TERESOPOLIS, Brazil, June 11 (Reuters) - Brazil's exciting forward Neymar may be their best hope of glory at the World Cup but he cannot win a record sixth title on his own, said their triumphant 1994 coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

Like the greats of the past, Neymar has the talent and ability to outshine anyone but his performances will depend on the other 10 men out there with him, Parreira told Reuters at the Brazil training camp outside Rio de Janeiro.

The 22-year-old Neymar's status as Brazil's top "craque", Portuguese for "star-player", has put intense pressure on the young man to ensure a victory in Brazil's first World Cup at home in 64 years, he added.

"A craque can make a difference from one move to another, but it's the team that wins," said Parreira, who is Brazil's technical director. "Like Maradona, Romario, Pele and all the players who made stand-out World Cup performances, he'll win with a team behind him."

Neymar and the Brazil team under head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari face Croatia in the World Cup opening match at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

For Parreira, who is taking part in his ninth World Cup, Brazil are counting on Neymar but they are ready to play, and win, without the talented Barcelona player.

"Neymar is super-important but people shouldn't think that if Neymar gets hurt Brazil can't win the Cup," said Parreira, who coached Brazil to their 1994 success in the U.S. and led them to the quarter-finals in 2006 when they went out to France.

"Pele was forced out (through injury) in 1962," he added. "He was the best in the world, the King of Soccer, and Brazil won its second World Cup."

Neymar, who wears the No. 10 jersey like Pele, led Brazil to victory in the Confederations Cup last year.

He helped them crush world champions Spain 3-0 in the final and was named player of the tournament, ending several years of doubt about his ability to move successfully from his then Brazilian club-team Santos to the world stage.

DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT

With 31 goals in 49 matches for Brazil, Neymar enters the World Cup as the leading national team goalscorer in the squad.

The quality of his performances have improved dramatically since 2012 when Brazil reappointed their 2002 World Cup-winning coach Scolari, whose record is 16 wins, 4 draws and two defeats during his second spell in charge.

Neymar's co-stars are expected to include Fred, a striker with Brazilian club Fluminense, Parreira said.

After two poor games at the 2013 Confederations Cup, he took Fred aside and gave him pointers about his positional play. The pay-off was immediate, he said.

Fred, a pure centre forward known for his ability to shoot accurately off balance, ended up as the equal top marksman in the tournament, scoring twice in the final against Spain.

"If Fred gets just two or three chances a game, he can score from one or two of them; this is fundamental," Parreira added.

With or without Neymar, Brazil are the favourites to win the Cup, Parreira said.

Already one of the best teams with the most successful record in world soccer, home advantage will give Brazil an extra advantage, as the groundswell of local support at the Confederations Cup showed.

"Brazil will play like crazy," said Parreira, whose was the conditioning coach for Brazil's revered 1970 world champions at his first World Cup. "Nobody is invincible but our opponents are going to have to bring a lot to beat us." (Writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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