Former Brazil and Real Madrid defender Roberto Carlos. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
Former Brazil and Real Madrid defender Roberto Carlos. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
Brazil's Neymar controls the ball. Photo: Michel Spingler/AP
Brazil's Neymar controls the ball. Photo: Michel Spingler/AP

BELGRADE - Brazil are among the favourites for next year’s World Cup in Russia and Neymar can lead the South American nation to their sixth title, former winner Roberto Carlos has said.

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 reorganised since the debacle against Germany and we also have a new coach in Tite, hence I am confident the situation has vastly improved,” he said.

“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 Germany, Spain and Argentina will also be among the top favourites and it will take a lot of hard work to capture the title.”

Carlos 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.

“I am convinced he will have an outstanding World Cup.”

Carlos, who spent a single season at Inter Milan in 1995-96, 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 reorganise 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.” 

Brazil were held to goalless draw by England at Wembley on Tuesday night

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