How To Play Like Neymar In 15/16: 6 Ways To Do It
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After Neymar’s destruction of Rayo Vallecano over the weekend, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique was lavish in his praise of his talented winger; if you learn how to play like Neymar, people could be saying the same about you:
"Neymar is electric, and at the moment, defenders only have two choices when facing him: commit a penalty or let him score. In one word, he was breathtaking."
Enrique wasn’t exaggerating, either. Neymar scored four goals and assisted the only other in Barcelona’s 5-2 win. It was a display of what the Brazilian can do at the peak of his powers, and it was scary. The ball was seemingly his and his only to control.
In light of his great performance, we here at The18 have decided to make Neymar the next athlete featured in our “How to Play Like” series. We are going to do our best to break down how and when Neymar does what he does on the pitch, so you can try to play like him.
He is not easy to mimic, but after reading this, you just might able to play a little bit more like Neymar they next time you step out onto the field.
What Position(s) You Should Play In Order To Play Like Neymar
Neymar plays as a winger for both Barcelona and his native Brazil. Sometimes he moonlights as an out and out striker, but for reasons we will get to shortly, his skills are allowed to shine far more out wide than off the should of the last defender.
Whether you are a righty or a lefty, play out wide.
How To Position Yourself In Attack In Order To Play Like Neymar
Because he is a winger, Neymar often starts out wide; groundbreaking, we know.
You are going to want to get comfortable getting chalk on your boots as you position yourself literally on the sideline when your team has possession or is trying to transition from defending to attacking. You are an outlet — the player that midfielders look towards in order to move the ball up the field, away from pressure — and you will remain as such until your team is firmly in possession of the ball.
That is not to say that you will always stay outside. Neymar’s attacking style is outside-in, meaning that he starts outside and always looks to cut inside. When counter attacking this often means that he will make runs angled diagonally inward, towards the center of the pitch. This means you will run a lot, and will often find yourself waiting to receive the ball, but that is a sacrifice you must be willing to make. Besides, if you are good enough, your teammates will make sure you won’t have to wait very long.
How And When To Shoot In Order To Play Like Neymar
The perfect way to show your teammates that you deserve the ball at your feet is to do something productive with it, and it doesn’t get any more productive than scoring a goal.
Neymar is one of the best goal scorers in the world, which says a lot about his ability to operate from a wide position. He doesn’t force long shots; he rarely scores from outside the box. He works himself into a great position, inside the box, and finishes.
He can do this because he is so good dribbling and at positioning himself, but for now keep this in mind: learn how to finish with both feet. Neymar is so clinical at finishing inside the box because he can finish quickly with both feet; there is no little to switch the ball onto a favored foot when you receive it on top of the penalty spot. Furthermore, get comfortable with finishing with the inside of your boot. Neymar can curl the ball into the far post as well as any forward on the planet. Shooting with the inside of the foot also allows for more consistent accuracy than shooting with the laces; it’s a less extreme motion, and easier to control.
How And When To Pass In Order To Play Like Neymar
If you imagine yourself playing like Neymar and facilitating the kind of possession game that made Barcelona famous under Pep Guardiola, you are delusional. Neymar does not have the kind of passing prowess that allowed for Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Lionel Messi to take the world by storm. That is not to say he’s a bad passer, he’s just more simplistic.
Under head coach Luis Enqrique, Neymar’s more simplistic passing style has been allowed to thrive because the team no longer focuses on “possession for the sake of possession.” Which is to say that the team is more direct. Counter attacking has become much more of the norm, and that is where Neymar thrives.
Get comfortable passing the ball into space for players to run onto, while running at speed, after stopping on a dime, and after cutting inside.
How And When To Dribble In Order To Play Like Neymar
Oh baby, all of the time.
Dribbling is Neymar’s main tool. It defines him as a player, and allows him to do the things that he does, such as finish or provide a deadly assist. The thing is, you have to actually be good (really, really good) at dribbling in order to play like Neymar.
Neymar’s dribbling is best described as “flair with a purpose.” He is constantly throwing step overs, body feats, and reverses. All of these subtle and not-so-subtle moves keep whoever is defending him off balance, as they are never sure when they are going to have to change direction; they prevent defenders from committing; they might as well emit an anti-defender force field.
Neymar uses his dribbling to get to the by-line to put in a dangerous cross or cut-back pass, and to suck in defenders, thus opening up space for teammates. It also gives him the ability to cut inside from the wing pretty much whenever he wants. It is also a major part of his 1-on 1-finishing: Neymar seemingly always has the balance, speed, and control to round the keeper with the ball at his feet and put the ball into an open net.
So get to practicing, because it takes a whole lot of time to learn how to make pieces of skill seamless parts of your game.
How And When To Defend In Order To Play Like Neymar
Honestly, not very much. Neymar is such an attacking threat he has earned the right to devote most of his energy to attack. He is usually an outlet for a pass should a defender or a midfielder fall under pressure, but that’s it.
That being said, should his team truly struggle to regain possession, or find themselves defending in a precarious coutner attack, Neymar will join in.
If you see that your team has been caught up field, and is suddenly outnumbered in defense, and you are in the closest position to help out, then you should help out. Neymar isn’t lazy, it just takes desperation to turn him into a defender.
On that same note, a good winger will help out their full-back should they see them getting repeatedly abused by the opposition’s attack. A double team can work wonders in terms of shutting said attack down, and earn the appreciation of the defenders playing behind you.
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