Previous
Juventus
Malmo FF
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Olympiakos
Atletico Madrid
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Liverpool
Ludogorets Razgrad
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Madrid
FC Basel
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
AS Monaco
Bayer Leverkusen
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Benfica
Zenit St Petersburg
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Galatasaray
Anderlecht
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
AFC Bournemouth
Leeds United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Blackpool
Watford
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Brentford
Norwich City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Cardiff City
Middlesbrough
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Charlton Athletic
Wolverhampton Wanderers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Huddersfield Town
Wigan Athletic
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Ipswich Town
Brighton & Hove Albion
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bolton Wanderers
Rotherham United
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Reading
Millwall
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Colchester United
Sheffield United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Doncaster Rovers
Crawley Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Gillingham
Peterborough United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Milton Keynes Dons
Bradford City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Notts County
Leyton Orient
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Port Vale
Bristol City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Preston North End
Chesterfield
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Rochdale
Walsall
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Scunthorpe United
Coventry City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Swindon Town
Oldham Athletic
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Yeovil Town
Crewe Alexandra
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
AFC Wimbledon
Burton Albion
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bury
Stevenage
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Cambridge United
Exeter City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Cheltenham Town
Southend United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Mansfield Town
Morecambe
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Northampton Town
Hartlepool United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Oxford United
Accrington Stanley
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Plymouth Argyle
Wycombe Wanderers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Portsmouth
Dagenham & Redbridge
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shrewsbury Town
Carlisle United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Tranmere Rovers
Newport County
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
York City
Luton Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Aldershot Town
Braintree Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Alfreton Town
AFC Telford United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bristol Rovers
Nuneaton Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Chester City
Southport
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dartford
Dover
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Eastleigh
Forest Green Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Halifax
Grimsby Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Kidderminster Harriers
Altrincham
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Macclesfield Town
Gateshead
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Torquay United
Woking
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Welling
Lincoln City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Barnet
Wrexham
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rangers
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Waterhouse
DC United
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cruz Azul
Chorrillo FC
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Portland Timbers
Olimpia
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Gimnasia La Plata
10:00 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Cerro Porteño
10:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
Caracas F.C.
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Peñarol
Deportivo Cali
12:30 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Guadalajara
Tijuana
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mérida
Atlante
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
Morelia
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Celaya
Necaxa
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coras Tepic
Zacatepec
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Dorados de Sinaloa
Mineros de Zacatecas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Monterrey
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Toluca
UNAM
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
América Mineiro
Bragantino
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Avaí
Sampaio Correa-MA
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Goianiense
América RN
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Náutico
Joinville
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Paraná Clube
Ceará
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Portuguesa de Desportos
Boa MG
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
ABC
AA Ponte Preta
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Icasa
Vila Nova-GO
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Luverdense
Santa Cruz FC
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Oeste
CR Vasco da Gama
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Al Hilal
Al-Ain
0
0
LIVE 0'
Leg 1
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Amazulu
Postp
Game Details
Kaizer Chiefs
Maritzburg Utd
Postp
Game Details
Next
 Posted by Rory Smith
Jun 9, 2014

Is Neymar worth all the hype? We'll just have to wait and see

Neymar has dazzled the world with his immense pace and trickery on the club and international level, but can this young superstar lift Brazil to a sixth World Cup title?

Neymar is 22. Neymar has 5 million followers on Instagram. Neymar has double that -- and a little more -- on Twitter. Neymar's goals have racked up countless millions of hits on YouTube and have been doing so ever since he was a teenager, long before most people in Europe had a chance to see him play a full 90-minute match.

Neymar is 22. Neymar has signed sponsorship deals with (deep breath) Nike, Claro, Guarana Antarctica, Santander, Panasonic, Red Bull and Unilever, among others. Neymar has been chosen as the single most marketable athlete in the world by SportsPro Media. His face beams out from billboards all over Brazil as the country prepares for the World Cup. Neymar is to be their star, if they have their way.

Neymar is 22. Neymar has already been the subject of what questionable convention means we must style as a "transfer tussle" between two of the biggest clubs in the world. Neymar has already cost what may prove to be almost a world-record transfer fee, if the latest figures offered by Barcelona -- which beat Real Madrid to his signature -- prove to be correct.

Neymar is 22. Neymar has already forced FIFA to change their rules thanks to his decision to dummy a penalty while still at Santos, the club where he made his name. It was no ordinary feint in a game against Sao Paulo in 2010, but a full-on stop -- what the Brazilians call a "paradinha." After watching the footage, FIFA decreed that feinting to take the kick, only to stop in the run-up and wait for a goalkeeper to commit, is no longer permitted.

Neymar is clearly a world-class talent but does he deserve all the hype? Only time will tell.
Carrying the weight of a nation's expectation, can Neymar deliver on the World Cup stage?

Neymar is 22. He has already brought down a club president thanks to the way that transfer wrangle worked out, at one of the most powerful clubs in the world. It was not his fault, but it was his arrival at Barcelona that precipitated the demise of Sandro Rosell, an event that dragged the Camp Nou out of uncertainty and down, right down, into unmitigated chaos.

Neymar is 22. Neymar has been busy.

There is just one question. Amid all the riches, all the sponsorship deals, all the hero worship -- as the excellent Alex Bellos has pointed out, Neymar is something like a footballing Justin Bieber, such is the devotion he inspires in his large teenage fan base -- and all the mayhem, the question refuses to go away. Is Neymar actually worth it?

That is not to say that he is not an elaborately gifted football player. He is. Of course he is. He is one of the best players in the world. But that group can be considered moderately large; "world-class," the chosen epithet for anyone who belongs to it, can be applied to a couple of hundred players. The true elite, though, can be narrowed down to just a handful.

He has all the trappings of being in that small cadre alongside Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Neymar has the string of model girlfriends; he has the commercial links; he has the ego-boosting transfer fee.

He even, and this is something that none of his rivals can boast, has a political voice: his #weareallmonkeys hashtag -- in response to a Villarreal fan throwing a banana at teammate Daniel Alves, but far from spontaneous as it had been planned in a Sao Paulo marketing agency for weeks -- turned him from young football player into agitator, activist and spokesman.

The way he chose to make his point added to the impression that he is the player who most truly gets social media. You do not get the impression his social media accounts are operated exclusively by his apparatchiks. His feeds aren't quite so cravenly commercial as Ronaldo's, for example. Neymar is comfortable with Twitter and Instagram and interacting with his fans; his accounts offer a snapshot of his life, his character, his opinions. He is the superstar of the selfie era.

But all of that just adds to the lingering doubt. His talent is not in question. What is up for debate is whether the hype around him -- the Twitter frenzy, the sponsorship deals, the transfer tussle and the YouTube goal compilations -- has affected our perception of that talent. Does the actual Neymar match up to the Neymar as he is presented in adverts? Does the reality of Neymar live up to the concept of Neymar?

Despite having a difficult first season alongside Messi at Barcelona, Neymar's still clearly a star of the future.
Neymar scored 15 goals in his first season at the Camp Nou, but he and Lionel Messi finished the campaign trophy-less.

To most people, it does. Pele may have been somewhat premature in declaring -- while he was still at Santos -- that the only difference between Neymar and Messi was that the latter "has more experience," but Neymar's displays in the Confederations Cup last summer, while carrying Brazil to the title, did more than enough to hint that here, genuinely, was an elite player.

It is inevitable, obviously, that Neymar has been hailed as the next Pele -- by people, this time, other than Pele -- but, in truth, it is not an entirely satisfactory parallel. Neymar is better coming in from the left flank than he is as a pure No. 10. He seems to contain little flashes of all his predecessors, too: trickery and imagination reminiscent of Ronaldinho, an ability to carry the ball similar to Kaka, a directness at times drawn straight from Ronaldo. There is a joy to his play, too: That is what Brazil enjoyed the most last summer. That he seemed to be having fun. It seemed natural; it seemed theirs.

- No. 6: Neymar
- #WorldCupRank: See our full countdown

The Confederations Cup, though, marked a distinct before and after in his career. Prior to last summer, Neymar was cocooned in the relative obscurity (emphasis on the relative) of South America; after, he was exposed to the harsh glare of Barcelona, Europe and the Champions League. Millions watch if you play for Santos; many millions more watch when you're in a clasico.

Neymar arrived in Catalunya as then-president Sandro Rosell's big coup, of course. He was the man Florentino Perez wanted but could not get. He was the heir to Messi. He was the third of football's holy trinity.

It did not quite work out that way. Neymar has had his moments, but it felt telling that in their final game of the season, with the league title on the line, Gerardo Martino left Neymar on the bench, preferring Alexis Sanchez's speed and Pedro's impersonation of a child on a sugar rush to try to break down Atletico Madrid's redoubtable back line. His exclusion of Xavi was more pointed, but leaving Neymar on the bench for an hour seemed to be a confession that, put simply, the Brazilian had not delivered.

Again, here, everything is relative. That Neymar has not shone consistently at Barcelona in his first season does not make him a bad player. It simply suggests that contrary to Pele's belief, he is not quite on a par with Messi; at least, not yet. As Cesc Fabregas has found, it is all very well standing out among the bulk of your peers, but when you find yourself in the rarefied air of the immortals, even giants start to look, well, normal-sized.

With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, this summer will do much to define Neymar's eventual legacy.
Neymar won the Golden Ball at the 2013 Confederations Cup. Will history repeat itself at the World Cup?

This World Cup has long been about Neymar. He has always been seen as his nation's great hope. Brazil's chances, to a large extent, of winning a sixth global crown and erasing the pain of 1950 hang on his slender shoulders. But there is something else at stake, too: it provides a chance for him to answer, once and for all, the question about who, and what, he is. Is Neymar -- as his nickname in Brazil has it -- simply a marketing phenomenon? Or is he something more? Is he worth all the fuss?

He is only 22. That seems awfully young to be the subject of such existential questions. But then Neymar has always been a man in a hurry. This is his chance to get to where he always wanted to be.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.