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06th Jul 2018

Romelu Lukaku defends Neymar amid play-acting accusations

Neymar has spent a total of 14 minutes on the ground at the World Cup

Reuben Pinder

He believes defenders give Neymar different treatment

As Brazil knocked Mexico out of the World Cup on Monday afternoon, all eyes were on Neymar. Brazil’s talisman once again managed to encapsulate the good the bad and the ugly of the beautiful game.

He opened the scoring and assisted the second goal, but his performance against Mexico will be remembered for his overreaction to receiving what can only be described as a light tread to his ankle. Neymar was down on the ground, writhing in pain for a long time before rising to his feet again.

This attracted a lot of criticism from viewers fed up with seeing his unnecessarily theatrical reactions to the physical side of the game.

Romelu Lukaku has since jumped to Neymar’s defence, claiming that the Brazilian receives harsher physical treatment from defenders. Speaking in a press conference at the World Cup – in Portuguese, because he can – Lukaku said:

“Neymar is not an actor. He has good ability. Neymar is not an actor. Against Neymar, defenders go harsher. I believe that in the future he will be the best in the world. I’m happy to play against him one more time.”

Neymar’s style of play naturally attracts more fouls, as does his quality, which terrifies defenders. But he has spent a total of 14 minutes on the ground in this World Cup.