In-Form Neymar Is Key to Brazil Securing World Cup Glory

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 05:  Neymar of Brazil and Bongani Zungu of South Africa during the International Friendly match between South Africa and Brazil at FNB Stadium on March 05, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

In-form and seemingly invincible, Neymar is the great talent that can bring Brazil a World Cup trophy and back to the top of the beautiful game.

At the tender age of just 22 years old, Neymar has racked up 30 goals and 20 assists in 47 international appearances. He is already just two goals away from cracking the top 10 in scoring for Brazil, a feat he could very well achieve this summer in front of thousands of adoring fans.

Neymar was again at peak performance against South Africa on Wednesday, as his hat-trick fueled a 5-0 rout of the Bafana Bafana in a battle of the most recent World Cup hosts.

Obviously, there is no shortage of quality when it comes to Brazil, as the players such as Oscar, Fernandinho and Thiago Silva feature for some of the world's best clubs and were integral components of the demolition of South Africa.

But Brazil always features a dazzling constellation of stars, and it is the way Neymar is able to pull of dynamic runs and produce singular moments of glory that really separates him from his teammates and makes him key to a Brazil triumph this summer. He is capable of the kind of Maradona-esque runs that have proven useful in previous World Cups.

The World Cup, despite being the most important soccer tournament in the world, doesn't necessarily produce the best actual on-pitch product. There are players tired from grueling club campaigns, untimely injuries and sometimes unfamiliarity between players when new lineups are introduced without much preparation.

The lack of cohesion and familiarity between some players is part of what makes Neymar such a tantalizing prospect for this summer.

Utilizing his great unteachable skill, his excellent speed, Neymar can exploit national-team defenders who miscommunicate due to lack of playing time together. There is always plenty of potential for this at the World Cup, as injuries and unpredictable form mean some teams come out with less-than-ideal lineups.

Neymar notched a great lobbed goal against South Africa that showed how his pace and deft touch can come in handy against unprepared back lines.

The pace and dribbling ability is a combination not featured in quite the same way as Neymar by other Brazilian greats like Oscar or Hulk. Even if these runs don't end in a goal, out-of-place defenders are still apt to commit fouls that can deliver Brazil some great set-piece chances.

This ability is accentuated by the fact that Neymar is a malleable front-line player, capable of playing striker in a 4-3-3 attack or drifting out onto the wings and making incisive runs to the middle from wide spaces. He has played in different styles with both Santos and Barcelona, and different roles as well.

Barcelona features Lionel Messi, and Neymar is comfortable playing off of him as more of a supporting-cast member in certain matches. Returning to Brazil, where he played for Santos, may also help bring out the alpha-dog status he had grown accustomed to before leaving for Spain.

If goalscoring prowess and versatility aren't enough, Neymar also boasts considerable charisma and charm, as demonstrated in Brazil's blowout victory against South Africa.

198 million Brazilians love @neymarjr and he'll have a lot more fans now. Find out why:

— FOX SPORTS Football (@FOXFOOTBALL) March 6, 2014

Considering the home advantage at the World Cup and the mass appeal of this still ascendant player, any great play of Neymar's could bring the crowd into the game as fans pin their hopes to his talented feet.

No matter who puts the finishing touches on a potential Brazilian masterpiece at this summer's World Cup, you can expect that the in-form Neymar will have plenty to do with it.