Brazil fired their dreams of World Cup glory with a 3-0 win over Austria, according to Neymar – who had his fears of an injury relapse tested to the full.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar endured some heavy challenges on his first start since suffering a broken metatarsal at the end of February and scored a delightful solo goal in the 63rd minute in between Gabriel Jesus’ opener and Philippe Coutinho’s stylish third.
Injury also ruled Neymar out of Brazil’s 7-1 humiliation on home soil against Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final but he believes Tite’s current crop should make no secret of their bold ambitions in Russia.
“You have to trust, you dream,” he told reporters after moving joint third on Brazil’s all-time scoring chart, level with Romario on 55.
“You can talk, you’re Brazilian and you can dream; we’re dreaming more and more. Dreaming is not forbidden.”
During his rehabilitation, Neymar discussed how he might feel vulnerable upon his return.
The 26-year-old may now be more confident of his body holding up to the rigours of tournament football after completing 83 minutes, during which time he was fouled on eight occasions.
There was little let up after Austria captain Julian Baumgartlinger trod on his ankle in the third minute and Neymar joked the hosts’ tactics at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion were more suited to mixed martial arts.
“We got ready for the UFC today, but it was good,” he added. “Everyone was unharmed.”