James. Neymar. How could you ever choose? Unfortunately, a decision will need to be made. There is no middle ground, no fence upon which to sit. Because on Friday, Brazil and Colombia meet in the World Cup semi-finals, meaning that after 90 minutes (or around 120, please, God, please) one of these magnificent men will be going home.
Deciding between these two immensely talented 22-year-olds could well come down to flipping a coin -- but before resorting to such a trite method, why not give some of these questions a ponder?
The quick facts
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
Country: Brazil (53 caps, 35 goals)
Club: Barcelona (since 2013)
Last season: 9 goals scored in 26 La Liga games
James David Rodríguez Rubio
Country: Colombia (26 caps, 10 goals)
Club: Monaco (since 2013)
Last season: 9 goals scored in 34 Ligue 1 games
Hey, baby, what's your sign?
I love being taken care of: Neymar and James are both the same age, but the Colombian was born six months earlier, on July 12, 1991. That makes him a Cancer, which means he's likely to be nurturing, loyal and deeply connected to his family. James left Colombia when he was 18, joining up with Porto - which doesn't seem to suggest a Cancer's more rooted tendencies. However, his love for his country is evident every time he scores for the national team, kissing the badge on his shirt and smiling. He's also clearly a family guy, having been married to Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina's sister since 2011. The two have a 13-month-old daughter, so those "Marry Me James" banners may be a bit of waste.
I like an inventive streak: Neymar, born February 5, 1992, is an Aquarius. People born under this sign tend to be creative and original. One quick glance at Neymar tells you he embraces such traits - his highlighted, tufted, previously-mohawked-but-now-we've-no-clue-what-he's-doing hairstyle is certainly a testimony to his originality. But perhaps more importantly, that creativeness finds an outlet on the pitch. Being Brazilian, it's easy to label Neymar as "tricky", but there's really no denying his skills with the ball at his feet allow him to display plenty of imagination while playing.
Where do you set the volume?
Make 10 be the top: Both James and Neymar are described as No. 10s, but it's James that better exemplifies what most traditionally think about when considering that role. For Colombia, James plays behind the striker in José Pékerman's 4-2-3-1. He's the creative soul of the team, the one that has the vision to orchestrate the side. But that doesn't mean he's confined to simply setting up goals. James has already scored five in Colombia's four matches, everything from a routine tap-in (albeit from a fantastic team combination) to a sublime volley that smashed in off the post.
Put it up to 11: With Messi already wearing the No. 10 shirt at Barcelona, Neymar needed to take No. 11 - and attempt to fit his way into a system that's a bit too restrictive for his liking. But with Brazil, Neymar can really turn up the volume. Depressingly, he's one of the few exciting players in this Brazil side, yet that also means that it's all the more easy for him to dazzle crowds. Neymar refuses to be confined to just one section of the park, zipping down the left, popping up on the right, blazing through the middle with a burst of speed. He's a threat to any side, and he's already shown as much, scoring four goals thus far.
Which sort of manipulation most appeals to you?
Screwing people out of money: When Monaco, newly inducted into the top tier of richy-rich clubs, decided they wanted James, they weren't actually prepared to pay the €45m eventually agreed upon. They were, however, ready to buy both James and João Moutinho for €70m, both playing for Porto at the time. However, Moutinho had forced a move away from Sporting, and due to the two sides' hatred for one another, the Lisbon club included a sell-on clause, in which Porto would need to pay 25 percent more for any amount spent over €11m, which is what they originally paid Sporting. In order to screw over their enemies, Porto agreed to sell Moutinho for just €25m, and James for €45m.
Screwing people for money: The former president of Santos, where Neymar spent 10 years before moving to Barcelona, claims that part of the €90m spent on the transfer went to fund prostitutes and an orgy at a hotel in London. The orgy was, of course, to celebrate Santos and Barcelona "sealing the deal." Feel free to insert your own jokes here.
How do you like to celebrate?
I like to dance: Neymar may like to boogie -- you can catch it on YouTube if you like -- but James loves a full-on dance routine. So do his teammates. Los cafeteros have the goal celebration down to a fine art. Sure, the goalscorer gets the chance to scream at the crowd, or kiss his badge as James does, but then they get down to business. To celebrate James' goal against Japan, their fourth of the night, the team shook their hips and shimmied in a salsa-meets-hip-hop style.
I thank God: Neymar has treated the world to more than his fair share of fun goal celebrations, including performing handstands and throwing out quick dance routines. But often the Brazilian's first reaction after scoring is to run, arms outstretched, to the touchline, then lift his hands and point to the heavens. He inherited his eye-catching celebrations from his earthly father, who he routinely talks to before matches as sort of a calming ritual, but his arms to the sky just might be acknowledging a heavenly one, one who Neymar prays to before every match.