World Cup: Brazil beats Serbia and fears for Neymar

Friday night had already dawned in Qatar when a cloud spread in the mixed zone of the Lusail Stadium that smelled wickedly expensive and drew a whole string of journalists behind it. A man walked through the mixed zone, freshly showered and lavishly perfumed, in shorts and striding heavily toward the exit.

His legs were in black compression stockings that reached above his knees, and his feet weren’t in expensive sneakers, but in white Havaianas, the flip-flops. who went there Neymar Junior, 30, the most famous figure in the Brazilian national team, once bought by Paris Saint-Germain for 222 million euros – and now the object of concern for a good part of the Brazilian nation.

Brazil had recently beaten Serbia 2-0, with two goals from Tottenham Hotspur striker Richarlison. First he got the dust in the penalty area (62′), then the 25-year-old scored a goal that should remain in the top 100 best World Cup goals for decades to come. It was a side kick after a cross from fellow striker Vinicius Junior, in which Richarlison himself chipped the ball so high that he was able to scissor it into the net in the air. “It was a beautiful goal, it was acrobatic, probably one of the finest of my career and of the tournament,” said Richarlison.

You will have to wait 24 to 48 hours to have a clear picture, Brazil’s team doctor said of Neymar

But even the grace of his goal quickly faded into the background. Because photos circulated showing a swollen right ankle. And because shortly before Neymar’s appearance in the mixed zone, Brazil’s team doctor Rodrigo Lesmar was summoned to the press room to make a statement on Neymar’s state of health.

In short, the situation was serious.

This is what Neymar’s ankle looked like when he was substituted. Brazil coach says: “You can be sure that Neymar will play this World Cup.”


But: The situation was still quite fresh: Neymar had suffered a sprain – as a result of trauma caused by the violent impact of a Serbian defender’s knee, reported Dr. Lesmar. The ankle of number 10 showed edema and swelling; one would have to wait 24 to 48 hours to have a clear picture, if x-rays were needed they would be taken. said the doctor. Then national coach Tite spoke up, “Excuse me, Doctor”.

Neymar was already injured by the time Rocharlison’s goals came. And stayed on the pitch for eleven minutes with the sprain, joking, and in the end couldn’t continue playing. “That’s something that needs to be taken into account in the overall assessment,” he said in a dramatically serious voice. It was less an attempt to make the PSG striker a martyr, a hero of the first World Cup battle, and more about protecting Neymar in advance – from new debates.

Neymar has enough on his neck – especially since he jumped into the Brazilian Bütt in the election campaign for outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro. The ultra-right Bolsonaro is downright hated by half of Brazil’s population – among this segment of the population there are quite a few who find the thought of winning the title with Neymar almost unbearable. Because it is taken for granted that the footballer would dedicate such a success to Bolsonaro and at least give him his Seleção jersey.

Like most Brazilian national team players, Neymar is a supporter of Bolsonaro, who lost the elections by the narrowest of margins – and whose supporters are far more gruff and unfair than the Serbs at the Lusail Stadium to torpedo the handover of the presidential sash. Because they make an almost fascist-like claim to power in the country. And because they couldn’t handle the fact that Lula Inácio da Silva was able to win the Brazilian’s 50 plus 1 on his side.

Regardless, history seems to be repeating itself that Neymar and the World Cup have a toxic relationship with each other. In 2010, national coach Carlos Dunga decided not to call the then starlet. In 2014, Colombian Juan Camilo Zúñiga kneed him in the back. Neymar missed the 7-1 draw with Germany in the semi-finals due to a lumbar fracture that almost left him paralyzed. In 2018 he struggled with the consequences of a metatarsal fracture. So now the ankle hurts. And Richarlison stole the show – especially with the second goal.

“I said at half-time: I only need one ball and the ball came,” said the London striker after the game: “I was focused – and I finished well.” But Richarlison’s thoughts were also with Neymar: “I hope he recovers as soon as possible so that we can have him at 100 per cent again for the next game.” Tite was sure of that: “You can be sure that Neymar will play this World Cup.”

However, Neymar has had such an injury before – in the 2013/14 season. At that time he had to sit out his former club FC Barcelona for a period of 32 days. At the World Cup, however, a maximum of “six games” are missing, as Neymar himself announced on a social network on Friday night – full of optimism with a view to winning the title. And without any reference to the injury.

“Brazil are the top team at this World Cup. There is no doubt about that,” said Serbia coach Stojkovic

Should he actually drop out, coach Tite would have to do without the Brazilian franchise player. But there is no shortage of alternatives. Against the extremely bulky but well-prepared Serbs, who posed problems for Brazil in the first half with a convincing defensive performance, the Seleção played almost better without Neymar than with him.

In any case, the justification for the Brazilian victory could not be shaken, the performance, which was repeatedly truffled with beautiful individual actions, was worthy of a World Cup favorite. “Brazil are the top team at this World Cup. There’s no doubt about that,” said Serbian coach Dragan Stojkovic after the 2-0 defeat by Brazil, who have been chasing the sixth crown in their history since winning the title in 2002. The question is: with or without Neymar.

source site