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Neymar is Pele’s trump card

Paris: The hosting of the 2014 World Cup is ‘a great opportunity’ for Brazil, Pele said on Sunday.

Pele revealed his confidence that the tournament will be a memorable one for all the right reasons while also backing Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil to win the World Cup for the sixth time, despite being under huge pressure of being the hosts.

“This is a great opportunity. It will be fantastic for Brazil,” he said.

“I think the government has learnt from the experience of the Confederations Cup… So it should organise the World Cup in a much better way. I hope we will have an excellent World Cup. We deserve it.

“As a Brazilian, I think this will be a great opportunity to show the country, to make money, to boost tourism. And it’s important that the demonstrations do not damage everything, so we are going to work hard.”

Pele, who was just 17 when he rose to international prominence at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, admits that the fear of failure this time around is massive.

“This is Neymar’s first World Cup and nobody knows exactly what is going to happen. It is a big responsibility for him,” said Pele.

“But the best thing for Neymar was to go to play in Spain. His experience of playing in Europe will pay dividends for Brazil in the World Cup. It was like him going off to university for six months and then coming back to play with Brazil, because then they come with more experience. That was fantastic for him.

“The problem of pressure is not only a problem for Neymar. It is a problem for the whole team, no doubt. Of course, the country, the people, they want to win.”

“We have two or three teams who right now, three months before the World Cup, we can say are very good. I’m thinking of Germany, because I have seen them play many times; Spain, because they have had the same team for eight years, and of course Brazil.

“But you must respect Italy, and in South America Chile are the best team today. The World Cup is always a box of surprises.”