World Cup 2022: Neymar feels mid-season staging will improve quality of tournament

Brazil forward Neymar looks on during the international friendly between Brazil and Ghana on 23 September, 2022 at the Stade Oceane, Le Havre, France
(Image credit: ANP via Getty Images)

Holding the World Cup 2022 (opens in new tab) during the domestic season will only enhance the quality of football at the tournament, according to Neymar.

The PSG (opens in new tab) star is aiming to inspire Brazil (opens in new tab) to glory this winter, having fallen short at the last two World Cups – but he expects the Selecao to face some seriously stiff competition.

Neymar – who's now just three goals away from usurping Pele as his country's all-time top scorer – also revealed which nations he expects to be challenging for the crown of world champions this time around.

Brazil forward Neymar reacts after the World Cup 2014 quarter-final match between Brazil and Belgium on 6 July, 2018 at the Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia

Neymar suffered more World Cup heartache four years ago in Russia as Brazil lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals (Image credit: Koji Watanabe / Getty Images)

In an interview with Esquire Middle East, Neymar reflected on his previous World Cup experiences – including the 2014 tournament, where he was injured for Brazil's infamous 7-1 semi-final thumping by Germany on home soil. He said (opens in new tab):

"Losing is never easy in football, but at a World Cup it's worse. That's why you have to do the preparation right, be 100% right physically and mentally. The preparation for this World Cup is better than usual because it's coming in the middle of the season, where you're at your best physically. Players can be tired for tournaments at the end of a season and so I think the level of this World Cup is going to be very high."

The 30-year-old went on to mention holders France (opens in new tab), Brazil's arch-rivals Argentina (opens in new tab), Belgium (opens in new tab), England (opens in new tab), and Germany (opens in new tab) as his favourites to triumph in Qatar.

Brazil forward Neymar during the international friendly match between Brazil and Tunisia on 27 September, 2022 at the Parc des Princes, Paris, France

Neymar has scored 75 goals in 121 international appearances (Image credit: Jonathan Moscrop / Getty Images)

Brazil get their World Cup campaign underway on 24 November against Serbia (opens in new tab) – who they also faced in the group stage four years ago. The same goes for Switzerland (opens in new tab), while Cameroon (opens in new tab) complete Group G.

This will be Neymar's third World Cup – and he'll be desperate to make it third time lucky in terms of realising his childhood dream. 

"It has been my dream since I was a kid to win the World Cup,” he said. “I have imagined myself holding that trophy and I’ve got another opportunity coming up to try and do that in Qatar. I hope I will be smiling at the end.”

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