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Ivan Rakitic: 'Neymar's form is improving at World Cup'

Ivan Rakitic: 'Neymar's form is improving'
© Reuters
Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic expects Neymar to return to his best form in the latter stages of the World Cup, having taken time to get going in Russia.

Ivan Rakitic has defended the performances of Brazil forward Neymar and insists that his ex-Barcelona teammate is close to recapturing his best form at the World Cup.

Neymar has yet to truly justify his star billing in Russia this summer, not helped by a long-term injury that he only recovered from a fortnight before the tournament started.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward contributed just a solitary goal and one assist in Brazil's three group-stage outings, but his stats have steadily improved game by game.

Rakitic believes that Neymar, with whom he spent three seasons in the same side at Barcelona, will soon light up the World Cup.

"He is among the best in the world and he is getting better during this tournament," he told reporters ahead of Croatia's last-16 match against Denmark.

"You can tell he is thinking less and less about the injury and I am sure we are all going to enjoy his football during this tournament. Neymar is among my favourite players in the world.

"I would always want to have him in my team. He has a special way of playing which doesn't necessarily suit everybody, but that's him. That's his style and he is enjoying playing football, so he takes a lot of risks."

Neymar played a part in 43 goals for PSG during his first year at the club, despite picking up a season-ending injury in February.

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Switzerland's Steven Zuber scores their first goal in the match against Brazil on June 17, 2018
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