indo-asian news service
Belo Horizonte/Fortaleza, 27 June: Neymar has hit back at claims of Uruguay captain Diego Lugano that he is "talented at winning free-kicks".
Speaking after Brazil’s 2-1 victory over Uruguay in Wednesday’s Confederations Cup semi-final at the Mineirao Stadium, Neymar moved to avoid a verbal confrontation with the centre-back, reports Xinhua.
"He has the right to say what he wants, it won’t affect me. I don’t pay any attention to it. What is important is that I help my team to win," the 21-year-old Barcelona striker said.
After the match, Lugano stood by the accusations he made Tuesday. When asked about a statement from Brazil’s football confederation (CBF) condemning Lugano’s comments, the Paris Saint-Germain defender expressed bemusement.
"Do you think I care about what the CBF or the media say? It doesn’t interest me. I say what I think without worrying about the reaction of others."
Neymar failed to score for the first time in the tournament Wednesday but played a role in both of Brazil’s goals. Fred’s opener came after a Neymar shot was blocked by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera while he provided the assist for Paulinho’s late winner with a precise corner-kick.
Neymar said Brazil’s squad would keep a keen eye Thursday’s other semi-final between Spain and Italy in Fortaleza. But he declined to nominate a preferred rival for Sunday’s final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
"You can’t choose who you play against. They are both difficult sides. We are going to be watching the match on a screen and try to be as prepared as possible," Neymar said.
Casillas speaks
Spain’s World Cup winning captain Iker Casillas has revealed he was brought to tears by the indifferent attitude of former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.
The 32-year-old says he is a new man after making his first competitive appearance since January in Spain’s 2-1 defeat of Uruguay in the Confederations Cup last week, reports Xinhua. "I’ve cried," Casillas admitted in an interview with Fifa.com. "I’ve suffered, I’ve been unwell, I’ve had sleepless nights." Despite having recovered from a hand injury in March, Casillas was overlooked by Mourinho for the remainder of the season in favour of Diego Lopez. He admitted he would have considered leaving Real Madrid had Mourinho not left to Chelsea.
"I’m a Madridista right down to my soul and, above all else, what matters to me is the club," he said.
"I would love to retire at Real Madrid, but I will not create problems if a coach does not want me."
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has rotated his goalkeepers during the Confederations Cup group phase, with Casillas, Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina all playing a game each.
But Casillas is expected to be chosen for Spain’s semi-final against Italy here Thursday. "I have regained my happiness," he said. "It was not easy but I’m another Iker Casillas now.
"After five months, it takes some time until everything comes back to you, but, luckily, I have had a great deal of help of my teammates and coach (Del Bosque) and that’s important when you have to start over again."