Even Messi and Ronaldo struggle internationally: Willian
Chelsea and Brazil forward Willian is adamant that the Selecao are not reliant on Neymar, arguing that even the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo can struggle at international level.
After the Barcelona star’s suspension at the Copa America this summer, Brazil were eliminated from the tournament at the quarter-final stage when Paraguay beat them in a penalty shootout.
His team is often criticised for a lack of star quality when Neymar is not available, but Willian says that, though Dunga’s side have no shortage of elite players, they cannot be expected to perform at 100 per cent when national teams link up so infrequently.
“I don’t think that the problem with the Brazil national team is the players,” he told Goal. “It’s not just Neymar; there are many high-quality players so I don’t know why they are always saying that we depend on Neymar.
“Of course Neymar is a great player – he’s a key man for the Selecao right now – but I think we have players of great quality and, if a player sometimes does not perform the same way he does for his club, I think it’s natural because, with our clubs we are used to playing with our team-mates who are always with us, training day by day and playing every week. In the national team we’re together for a few days and we always try to do the best in the same way.
“This is normal. It’s like this with Messi in Argentina, with Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portugal team. All the big players sometimes fail to perform in their national team as they do for their clubs because they do not get so long to train together but I think the Brazilian team is well served for players. We’re not lacking for quality players.”
Willian admits that elimination from the Copa in Chile was a blow but has called for players and supporters to get behind Dunga in order to bounce back.
He recalled of their summer struggles: “It was hard. It is always difficult to be eliminated. We always enter competitions to win but things don’t always happen the way we want.
“But we have everything to keep working. The important thing is to put full trust into Dunga and the coaching staff so that we can continue doing our job.”