It may be a massive understatement to say that Brazilian soccer players are feeling pretty low after one of the country's biggest defeats ever in a World Cup match. Despite the 7-to-1 loss on their home soil yesterday, the Brazilians can consider themselves winners in terms of social-media star power.
Seven of the 10 most-followed World Cup players on Instagram hail from Brazil, led by the team's superstar forward Neymar with 8.8 million, according to Instagram data shared with Bloomberg. Neymar, who sat out yesterday's semifinal match against Germany due to an injury, also posted the top-three most-liked photos among World Cup athletes and gained the most followers during the month-long competition.
Next up from Brazil was David Luiz, the Sideshow Bob-haired central defender, with 3.8 million followers. (Instagram has not updated the data since yesterday to reflect whether anyone stopped following Luiz in protest of his poor performance against Germany.) Brazilian right-back Dani Alves had 2.3 million. Instagram has more than doubled its user base in Brazil during the past year, the company says.
Some non-Brazilians did make it into the top 10. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, named this year's best soccer player, has 6.2 million Instagram followers, and Argentina's Lionel Messi, who won the four previous Ballon d'Or awards, has 4.4 million, according to the data from the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service. Messi, whose team just defeated the Netherlands to move onto the final match, added slightly more Instagram fans during the World Cup than Ronaldo.
Colombian phenom James Rodriguez, currently the top scorer at the World Cup, added 1.8 million followers during the last month. Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas performed much better on Instagram than he did on the pitch in Brazil, with 1.8 million followers.
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