Rio de Janeiro
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari believes that Neymar continues to be the subject of overly-physical marking at the Fifa World Cup.
The Barcelona forward has been one of the hosts’ standout players at the tournament so far, helping Scolari’s men to the quarter-finals following Saturday’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Chile.
However, Neymar is a doubt for Friday’s last-eight clash with Colombia, having picked up a thigh injury during the win over Jorge Sampaoli’s side.
Scolari believes the 22-year-old is being unfairly targeted by opposition defenders - likening it to the marking of Cristiano Ronaldo when he was in charge of Portugal.
“I have already experienced this before at Euro 2004, when I was the coach of Portugal,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Then it was Cristiano Ronaldo in the viewfinder. Always subject to ‘special’ marking.
“I remember that in the semi-final against the Netherlands he was hit hard after just five minutes and he was forced to quit in the second half.
“Neymar is undergoing the same treatment as Cristiano. Every game he ends with swollen legs. After five minutes of the game against Chile he was hit violently.”
Neymar could come up against another star of the tournament in James Rodriguez on Saturday, with the Monaco man having scored five times in his first World Cup.
However, Scolari is unsure as to whether the former Santos man will be able to shake off his thigh complaint.
“He has been a hero. But I do not know if he will recover for Friday against Colombia,” Scolari added.