Pele backs Neymar to be fit and ready for Brazil World Cup title tilt

Brazil are one of the favorites to win this summer's World Cup, even without Neymar in their starting XI.
Updated 16 April 2018
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Pele backs Neymar to be fit and ready for Brazil World Cup title tilt

  • Brazil star in race against time to be fit for showpiece in Russia.
  • Football legend Pele has hope Neymar will be back to his best in time for tournament.

Brazilian legend Pele says he is confident about Brazil’s chances at the upcoming World Cup and expects injured star Neymar to be fully fit to lead the side in Russia.
The 77-year-old, who has been in ailing health recently, put his faith in Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar’s ability to recover from a fractured foot in time to lead Brazil to a possible sixth World Cup crown.
“We don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but I think for the World Cup he’s going to be in shape because his injury is not so bad,” Pele, the only person to have won the World Cup three times as a player, said.
“I wish he has the same luck I had in the World Cup.”
PSG’s Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, has not played since breaking a metatarsal bone in his right foot on Feb. 25 in a Ligue 1 match against Marseille. He said last week he is still recovering following surgery but expects to be fit in time for the World Cup which kicks off in Moscow on June 14.
In the last World Cup on home soil four years ago, Brazil were humiliated 7-1 by eventual winners Germany in the semifinals. It was as chastening a defeat as any suffered by hosts of the showpiece — not least because many pundits had Brazil down as favorites to win the tournament. But Pele feels the team under “psychologist” Tite, which breezed through South American qualifying, has the tools to go all the way, and put the shocking semifinal of four years ago to the back of fans’ minds.
“I am confident because Tite, the new coach, now (has) had a little time to set up the team.
“We have a lot of excellent players in Europe. The problem is to put the team together.
“I think we’re going to have a good team at the World Cup.”
Pele said he expected few surprises at the tournament, identifying Lionel Messi’s Argentina, Germany, England and France as potential challengers.
However, he said “football is a box of surprises,” so you cannot rule any side out.
As for his own health problems — Pele canceled a trip to England in January due to “exhaustion,” although his spokesman denied he had been hospitalized — Pele said there was little cause for concern. “I cannot play in the next World Cup but I feel good,” he said with a hearty laugh.


Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

Updated 41 min 34 sec ago
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Rory McIlroy ready to roll back the years in search of more Major glory at the Open

  • Former world No.1 without a Major victory in four years.
  • McIlroy looking to play carefree as he goes in search of second Claret Jug.

Rory McIlroy knows what he needs to do to win the Open this weekend: Play as if it does not matter and go for broke.
The world No. 8 has won four 
Majors but, by his high standards, is in a bit of a slump, having not got his hands on one of the four big titles since 2014. That win came at the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, which came barely a month after his only Open victory at Royal Liverpool.
He tees it up at Carnoustie today with five top-fives this season, but only one win. However, with ever 
expectant fans and a game that when on song is better than anyone else’s there is expectation he can claim 
Major No.5 this weekend.
The Northern Irishman’s first Open came at Carnoustie 11 years ago and he is aiming to play the famous links in the same carefree attitude he did as a teenager, and hopes that lands him 
another Claret Jug.
“I do need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and I’m just happy to be here,” the 29-year-old said.
“(2007) was my first Open — I was just trying to soak everything in and I was just so grateful to be here. I think that’s a big part of it — if you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll be successful.
“As you get a little older, you get a little more cautious in life — it’s only natural. For me, it’s more about 
playing with the freedom and I don’t want to say being naive but there is something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff.
“When we last played The Open here, I was bouncing down the fairways and didn’t care if I shot 82 or 62 because I was just happy to be here. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play.”
For McIlroy that may well involve using the driver more than some of his rivals. The heatwave the UK has been experiencing has seen the fairways run firm and fast with many of his rivals such as Tiger Woods saying they will mostly hit irons off the tee. But for McIlroy the game plan will change from day to day.
“There’s not going to be one player in this field with a game plan on Wednesday night who will to stick to that the whole way around for 72 holes,’’ McIlroy said. “It’s just not going to happen with wind conditions, with pins. You start to feel a little bit more comfortable with a few shots, and you might start to take some on.
“It’s going to be really interesting, I think, because the golf course is playing so firm and fast, there’s some guys that will see it completely different to the way I see it and vice versa. It’s 
going to be really interesting to see how it all plays out.’’