Neymar has hit back at those criticizing his behavior during Brazil’s 2-0 victory over Mexico on Monday as trying 'to undermine' him and throw him off his game, according to reports.
Despite scoring the goal to put Brazil ahead in the match, Neymar’s tangle with former Watford defender Miguel Layun in the technical area is what caught the most attention. As Neymar lay on the ground with the ball trapped between his legs, Layun stepped on the Brazilian's ankle as he picked the ball up. Neymar reacted in hysterics, prompting a furious response from both benches.
According to The Guardian, the 26-year-old, who was accused of feigning injury in the World Cup round of 16 match, pays no attention to the criticism he's had for his perceived play acting.
Following the match, Neymar stated: “I think it’s more an attempt to undermine me than anything else. I don’t much care for criticism, not even for praise because this can influence in a way the athlete’s attitude.
“In the last two matches I didn’t talk to the press because there are too many people talking, getting excited. I don’t know if they’re showing off. I am here to win with my teammates.”
Following the match, Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio, despite not specifically mentioning Neymar, stated that 'fake fouls' were a contributing factor to his side's defeat on Monday.
Osorio went on to state: “I think it’s a shame for football. We wasted a lot of time because of one player. We stopped too often.
“I think this is a very negative example for the world of football and all the children who are following this game. This is a strong sport, a man’s sport and I think there shouldn’t be so much acting.”
Neymar and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino both found the net in the 2-0 victory, which will see them face Belgium in the quarter finals of the World Cup.
Brazil manager Tite believed Neymar was treated unfairly, stating: “I saw what happened. Look at the video and against the video you can say nothing.”
Neymar has been subject to further discussion following reports of Real Madrid’s denial of a €310m offer for the Brazilian forward.