With a country’s expectations weighing heavily on his shoulders in 2013, Neymar rose to the occasion as Brazil swept all aside at the FIFA Confederations Cup. This summer, the burden was increased ten-fold for A Seleção’s latest No10. The Barça forward has, so far, matched those expectations with four goals at Brazil 2014, along with a crucial penalty in his side’s shootout victory against Chile, as the hosts have reached the quarter-finals.
James Rodriguez is another name on everyone’s lips at the moment, with the Colombia No10 creating headlines with his outstanding performances at the FIFA World Cup™ so far. His five goals in four matches, including a stunning effort against Uruguay in the Round of 16, have seen him pick up three Budweiser Man Of The Match awards as Los Cafeteros have veritably cruised to the final eight.
The two No10s now come head-to-head in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and one of the tournament’s stars will be heading out of the competition. We take a closer look at the pair’s outstanding statistics ahead of their mouth-watering clash.
Both players are somewhat diminutive in stature, with both measuring in at below the tournament average height of 182cm. However, both are noted for their strength in holding off opponents despite being under 6' tall. When the Brazilian signed for Barcelona, Blaugrana legend Michael Laudrup said “Everyone is looking forward to seeing him in Europe at the highest level, but I'm not sure whether his small size will be a factor. Without wishing to compare him to anyone else, Lionel Messi is not the biggest player in size and we have all seen what he has done.”
Date of birth
Neymar: 5 February 1992 (22 years old)
Rodriguez: 12 July 1991 (22 years old)
The No10s are the same age in term of years, and both have had to deal with huge pressure despite their tender years. Neymar is the hosts’ poster boy for Brazil 2014, and everywhere you go in the country you are likely to see that now famous smile beaming back at you from a billboard. Rodriguez has taken on the burden of being his side’s major star after Radamel Falcao’s injury ruled him out first for club side Monaco and then for this summer’s finals. He responded admirably in France, voted the club’s player of the year by fans as the side finished second in French Ligue 1 to confirm their return to the UEFA Champions League. Colombia’s No10 has so far put in stellar performances in Brazil and turns 23 the day before the Final, will it be a happy birthday for James?
FIFA World Cup goals (up to and including the Round of 16)
It’s the first appearance at the global finals for either player and both have impressed with at least a goal per game ratio. Neymar opened his World Cup account with a brace in the Opening Match against Croatia, and followed this up with another double against Cameroon in the hosts’ final group game. His Colombian counterpart scored in stoppage time at the end of his World Cup debut against Greece before single strikes in the remaining Group C matches against Côte d’Ivoire and Japan. Then came one of the moments of the tournament so far, his stunning chest-and-volley effort against Uruguay that crashed in off the bar. His second against La Celeste confirmed his side’s passage to the quarter-finals and made him outright top scorer at Brazil 2014 after the Round of 16.
Major trophies (excluding single-game competitions)
The Brazilian maestro has won most of his silverware with Santos, picking up three Campeonato Paulista titles with Peixe (2010, 2011 and 2012) as well as a Copa do Brasil in 2010. Arguably his finest hour in club football came when he lifted the Copa Libertadores in 2011, scoring in the second leg of the final against Penarol to help the Brazilian side win their third continental title. With Brazil, he picked up a Silver Medal at the 2012 Olympic Football Tournament before the Confederations Cup triumph last year.
Rodriguez lifted his first silverware aged 18, picking up the Argentinian Primera Division Apertura title with Banfield in 2009. He moved on to Portugal and played a part in Porto’s serial success. He won a unique treble of Portuguese Primeira Division, Portuguese Cup and UEFA Europa League in his first season with the Iberian giants, before adding two more league titles in the following two seasons.
Record at international FIFA tournaments (pre-World Cup)
Neymar: 14 games, eight goals (Won 11, lost three)
Rodriguez: Eight games, three goals (Won five, drawn one and lost two)
Neymar has had to wait for happiness in FIFA tournaments, with an early exit from the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup a preview of things to come. It was not a happy time for the-then 17-year-old, despite scoring in the opening victory against Japan, his side crashed out at the group stages with consecutive 1-0 defeats to Mexico and eventual winners Switzerland. He then scored three goals on the way to the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament final, but the Mexicans stood in his way again as a 2-1 defeat meant he went home with a Silver Medal. He had an infinitely more positive experience at the 2013 Confederations Cup, scoring four goals as the hosts lifted the trophy last summer.
A 16-year-old Rodriguez also suffered group stage disappointment at the U-17 World Cup, heading home early without scoring a goal at the 2007 edition. Four years later, he impressed on home soil with three strikes in the hosts’ run to the quarter-finals of the U-20 World Cup. El Tri were the Colombia No10’s nemesis on that occasion – defeating his side 3-1 in the last eight.
Check out the World Cup statistics centre to compare these two, or any other players at the tournament, with detailed comparison analysis, including passes completed and distance covered, at your fingertips.