BELGRADE (Reuters) - Brazil are among the favorites for next year’s World Cup in Russia and Neymar can lead the South American nation to their sixth title, former winner Roberto Carlos said on Tuesday.
The 44-year old former left back, who helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup as well as Copa America titles in 1997 and 1999, also believed that the country has recovered from a humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany as the 2014 tournament’s hosts.
“The team has been reorganized since the debacle against Germany and we also have a new coach in Tite, hence I am confident the situation has vastly improved,” he told a news conference in Serbia’s capital.
“We have world class players and team leaders in Neymar, Willian and Thiago Silva. They are experienced and I am confident that Brazil have it in them to win the World Cup.
“As a Brazilian, naturally I want Brazil to win the World Cup. But (world champions) Germany, Spain and Argentina will also be among the top favorites and it will take a lot of hard work to capture the title.”
Carlos, an ambassador for La Liga’s Real Madrid, said that Neymar was right to move from Barcelona to Paris St Germain during the close season and believed the talented forward would shine in Russia next year.
“I expect Neymar to become the world’s best player very soon,” he said.
“There is a lot of debate going on whether he should have moved to Paris St Germain from Barcelona and I think he did the right thing.
“It was his personal decision and I think it will be easier for him to flourish at PSG, whereas that was more complicated with Lionel Messi at Barcelona or would have been at Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo. At PSG, he is the benchmark.
“He is a great person too, I am in touch with him regularly and I am also convinced he will have an outstanding World Cup.”
Carlos, who spent a single season at Inter Milan in 1995-96 before moving to Real where he won four La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies, said Italy needed to “start from scratch” after failing to qualify for the World Cup.
The Italians, beaten by Sweden 1-0 on aggregate after Monday’s 0-0 draw in Milan, will miss out on the finals for the first time since 1958.
“That’s football and it only shows that many teams have improved and caught up with those at the top level,” he said.
“Italy have to reorganize and go back to the drawing board. It’s easy to pile the criticism on them now but I don’t think that’s the right course of action.”
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Christian Radnedge