Neymar will be a World Cup great, says Serginho

Neymar was injured when Brazil crashed out of the World Cup semi-finals four years ago, but Serginho hopes he can inspire them in 2018.

Neymar in action for Brazil   -  Getty Images

Neymar is alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as one of the world's best players and will be a star at the World Cup, according to former Brazil international Serginho.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is recovering from foot surgery but hopeful of recovering in time for Brazil's opening match at Russia 2018 against Switzerland on June 17.

And Serginho, a Copa America winner and Confederations Cup finalist with Brazil in 1999, expects his compatriot to play a leading role in this year's finals.

"I hope Neymar can come back at 100 per cent," the 46-year-old, speaking courtesy of Hublot, told Omnisport. "He had a rather bad injury but he will be back in time.

"He's among the best in the world alongside Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He will be one of the great names at this World Cup."

Brazil suffered a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany at the semi-final stage four years ago, but Tite's side are among the favourites to claim the 2018 trophy, having breezed through the difficult South American qualifying section.

"I think, after 2014, Brazil have completely changed their mentality," said Serginho. "Today, they are a much stronger side. Thanks to Tite, they rediscovered the joy and creativity to play football, which was exactly what they missed in 2014."

Serginho enjoyed a successful nine-year career with AC Milan, which included Champions League wins in 2002 and 2007.

The former full-back thinks Liverpool are arguably the strongest team left in this season's competition but warns Roma cannot be discounted after their dramatic win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

"This is football. Nobody thought Roma could overcome Barcelona after the first leg but football is played on the pitch, where Roma proved to be a well-prepared and mature side," he said. "After this great win, they proved they have everything to go further on in the competition

"To me, Roma were drawn with the toughest club, Liverpool, who are playing very well. But after what Roma did versus Barcelona, everything is possible. And Roma have everything to beat Liverpool and progress."

Juventus suffered disappointment as they exited to Real Madrid in the last eight, but they are on track to win Serie A for a seventh season in a row.

Serginho thinks it is a shame to see Italy's top flight so dominated by one team and hopes for a change in the coming years.

"Juventus are the best in Italy and this is a pity," he added. "It is almost seven years in a row. Nothing against Juventus, but I remember Serie A as a very competitive league and to see the same club win for seven years [in a row] is not very nice.

"I am sorry for Italian football and let's hope more balance will be back soon."

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