It will be Barca teammates Neymar vs Messi at this FIFA World Cup

Jun 13, 2014, 08:50 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee

Pele was the greatest of the footballers making the number 10 jersey immortal, but when Diego Maradona wore the same jersey number, the Brazil-Argentina rivalry began; the same beckons now

It's a new rivalry in an old bottle over a jersey number! Football is not all about Numero Uno. Number 10 is special, very special, here. Pele was easily the greatest of the footballers making the jersey number 10 immortal. When Diego Maradona wore the same jersey number, the Brazil-Argentina rivalry took to new heights.

Neymar and Lionel Messi. Pics/Getty Images
Neymar and Lionel Messi. Pics/Getty Images 

In the 2014 World Cup, it will now be a battle between two teammates at FC Barcelona for the next 31 days to prove to the world their excellence. One we all know as "LM10", Lionel Messi — the successor to Maradona's No 10 jersey in Argentina.

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Brazil has found its answer in Neymar da Silva Santos, who will wear the No 10 jersey. Make no mistake, Neymar will be the most experienced debutant star footballer for Brazil in a World Cup. Pele had played only six matches before his debut in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

Romario had 26 in 1990 and Ronaldo had 39 matches under his belt when he made his debut in 1998. The match against Croatia will be Neymar's 50th in a yellow shirt! He has already scored 31 goals for Brazil. Messi has only 38 goals in 86 matches for Argentina.

Neymar knows the responsibility attached with wearing the jersey No 10. At the same time, he did not forget to mention those names who can be the real stars of this World Cup.

The haircut...
"I remember those days of the 2002 World Cup when I had a haircut like Ronaldo (R9) of Brazil. I used to go around displaying my new haircut to everybody and later watched him lifting the Cup. I am a fan of Romario and Ronaldinho, too.

Now both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are playing at their best and are the best in business. They are ready to rock the World Cup too," he said. Is he mature enough at 22? Can this 22-year-old do what a 17-year old Pele did in 1958? Neymar said: "I'm mature enough to be anxious!"

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