Neymar, brazil.jpg
Neymar (2-L) of Brazil and Motobi Mvala (2-R) of South Africa in action during the men's preliminary round match between Brazil and South Africa for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Soccer tournament at Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, 04 August 2016.

The relationship between Brazil, especially star Neymar, and their fans remains uneasy ahead of the men's Olympic quarter-final with Colombia Saturday, a rematch of the tie played in the 2014 home World Cup.

Brazil is arguably the most football-crazy country on a football-crazy planet and when things are going well, the players are hailed as gods among mortals. But the extreme also applies when things are not going well.

Barcelona star Neymar, who was rested from the Copa America in preparation for the Games, is yet to score in the tournament, extending his goalless streak for the Selecao to six games and is feeling the heat from fans who have booed him and questioned his lifestyle.

"Off the field, it's my life," ESPN quoted him saying at a news conference. "I'm a 24-year-old guy - why can't I go out to parties? You have to hold me accountable for what I do on the pitch."

Everyone plays badly occasionally but when you play badly while partying, sympathy is in short supply.

"He doesn't have what it takes to be captain," Brazilian great Zico said. "He should only be worrying about his game."

Unfavourable comparisons have been made to Marta, the undisputed star of Brazil's women's team.

But Brazil's men's Olympic football coach Rogerio Micale begged fans to go easy on Neymar.

"Marta and Neymar are two great Brazilian players," he was quoted by the Mirror as telling reporters. "Neymar will one day become the best player in the world and we need to respect him. If we don't respect our best players they might not want to be with us anymore."

The latest bid for Brazil's first Olympic gold medal in football almost came to a premature end in the group stage. In the early part of the final match, they were actually heading out on goals scored before they powered to a 4-0 win over Denmark.

Those were Brazil's first goals of the competition and it will be hoped that sparks them into life for their next tie in Sao Paolo's Corinthians Arena.

When Brazil hosted the 2014 World Cup, they were expected to make a triumphant march to the final. Instead their campaign ended in farce, thrashed 7-1 by Germany in a Belo Horizonte semi-final.

But the thread really started to unravel a match before when Colombian Juan Zuniga kneed Neymar in the back, fracturing a vertebra in his spine and ruling him out of the tournament.

Brazil therefore went into the semi not only without their best player but emotionally distracted as his team-mates endulged in various shows of solidarity right up until kick-off with Germany.

They will hope to progress through their rematch against Colombia with considerably less drama on this occasion.

Latest news

Plane crashes at airport in Melbourne

A five-passenger charter plane has crashed into a building next to Essendon Airport in Melbourne, with witnesses reporting explosions, fire and black smoke, police said Tuesday.

Air France pilots give green light to lower cost subsidiary

Members of Air France's main pilots union on Monday voted to accept the creation of a new lower cost subsidiary that the flag carrier hopes will help it compete on long-haul routes.

US Army General McMaster tapped as Trump's national security advisor

Army Lieutenant General HR McMaster will be the new White House national security advisor, US President Donald Trump told reporters Monday.

Greece's creditors want sweeping reforms before next bailout payment

Greece must make sweeping reforms to its labour market, pension system and collective bargaining agreements in order to receive its next vital bailout payment, the country's European creditors said Monday.

President wants to recall "politically appointed ambassadors", can't do it without gov't

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that many politically appointed Croatian ambassadors were not carrying out state policies but that she could not replace them without the government to appoint career diplomats who would fight for Croatia's interests.

Izetbegovic hopes ICJ will confirm Serbia's responsibility for genocide

The Bosniak member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic, on Monday rejected criticism stirred up by the announcement that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be requested to review its judgement made after Bosnia sued Serbia for genocide.

British lawmakers locked in heated debate over Trump's state visit

Allowing US President Donald Trump to visit Britain would be akin to "pimping out the Queen," one British lawmaker said Monday during a heated debate in British parliament over two petitions concerning the US leader's future state visit.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's sharp-tongued ambassador to the UN, dies

Russia's long-time ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York on Monday, following a career that spanned four decades and saw Russia emerge from the Soviet Union and experience many turbulent events in its relations with the West.

French police raid National Front over European Parliament payments

France's far-right National Front Monday said that investigators had searched its offices in relation to allegations that it misused European Parliament funds.

Unhappy Presidents' Day: Trump still manoeuvring after Sweden comment

Donald Trump used his first Presidents' Day in office to continue trying to talk his way out of comments implying a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened.

Croatia supports Kosovo's territorial integrity - Grabar-Kitarovic

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Monday expressed the support to Kosovo's territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations during her talks with the visiting Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj.

Petrov rules out early parliamentary election

Parliament Speaker and Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov on Monday dismissed speculation about a reshuffle of the parliamentary majority, saying an early election was likelier, but that right now he did not see "such a scenario."