Brazil and Argentina face off in the third CONMEBOL 2018 World Cup qualifying fixture in November and FC Barcelona star Neymar has said that he would rather play alongside than against Lionel Messi.
Five-time world champions Brazil will open their World Cup qualifying campaign away against Copa America champions Chile, followed by Venezuela in October, but Neymar Jr. will miss both matches while he serves out his 2015 Copa America ban.
However, the FC Barcelona superstar will return for Brazil in the crucial game against Argentina in November where he will be up against his club mate and Argentina captain Lionel Messi.
‘Playing against Messi is not good’
Stating that he would rather play alongside Messi than against him, Neymar told Globo’s SporTV on Sunday: “Messi is a great player, playing against him is not good, it is bad.”
“Qualifying is going to be close, the national teams are very well prepared. I think we have to be very attentive, train well and concentrate on getting Brazil qualified.”
Neymar wants to creates his own path
The Brazil international is a major contender for the 2016 Ballon da Or after scoring 43 goals in 50 appearance in all competition for the Catalan giants and playing a key role as the club completed an impressive treble triumph.
The Brazilian is confident he can be among the Ballon d’Or finalists. However, he said his goal is not to surpass his Argentine teammate but to create his own path.
“I don’t want to surpass Messi. I want to trace my own path by doing the things I have been doing, winning titles, reaching goals,” Neymar said. “I don’t want to surpass anyone, I don’t want to be better than anyone else. I only want to be the best that I can be.”
Brazil have a tough task to qualify
Neymar admitted that CONMEBOL is a competitive region and Brazil have to learn from teams around them in order to progress.
“I think we have become a bit stagnant and we are behind some of the teams from this region. The level of football talent is very even. Chile has a great team, they won the Copa America playing well, We have to learn from everything, not just Europe. Look at Chile, they are right here next to us.”
The CONMEBOL nations play 18 competitive fixtures over a two-year period with the top four teams qualifying automatically and the fifth-placed finisher facing a home and away playoff against the top Oceania confederation finisher.
With the likes of Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, and Argentina vying for the top four spot, Neymar and Brazil will have to be at their best to avoid any hiccups and continue the tradition of Brazil being the only team to qualify for all the FIFA World Cups.