The iconic Brazilian national team started its 2022 World Cup campaign in the final round of matches on Thanksgiving day with a convincing and dominant 2-0 win over Serbia. However, Seleção Canarinha was dealt an injury blow to its undisputed star Neymar Jr. The Paris Saint-Germain forward was subbed off in the 80th minute after he suffered nine fouls against Serbia. One of them likely caused an ankle injury, according to the Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar.
“It was a direct trauma where the knee of a Serbian player made a movement that caused the sprain,” Lasmar said.
“He presented with some swelling of the ankle. We started treatment immediately, including on the bench. He is still in physio treatment now. And we will have to wait 24 to 48 hours before we have a clearer picture of the player’s situation.” (CNN)
Neymar and Brazil are now in a race against time to get him healthy and fit for the knockout stages, showed they quality without their superstar forward.
Brazil is chockfull of talent and is considered the favorite to lift the World Cup trophy come Dec. 18. Despite Brazil’s uber-talented squad, missing a player of Neymar’s stature can’t help but have some impact. Just look back at Brazil’s catastrophic 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup. Brazil missed Neymar and center back Thiago Silva that day through injury, and Brazil suffered one of the most embarrassing losses in World Cup history. I’m not saying Brazil will implode like they did eight years ago, but there could be cause for concern.
So how will this news impact Group G? Brazil’s next matchup comes against Switzerland on Monday at 11 ET. Then Cameroon will take them on at 2 ET on Dec. 2 for their final round of group stage matches.
Despite what happened in the 2014 World Cup, Brazil are still perfectly capable of winning the group even without Neymar leading the line. Richarlison’s brace, which included a goal of the tournament contender bicycle kick, is a good sign that Brazil can score goals without Neymar’s name on the scoresheet.
Brazil has a ridiculous squad. They have skillful and tricky wingers like Vinicius, Raphina, Antony, and Rodrigo, who would all start for another national team with less competition for starting sports and minutes. There’s also Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli, key figures at Arsenal, who can come off the bench to change the game.
In addition to the three points picked up in the opening round of games, Brazil also has goal differential in its favor. WIth one more win, Brazil would be guaranteed to go through to the knockout stages. With one more win and at least a draw, they would win the group outright.
So, history will tell you that Brazil will probably, and should, make it through on top of the group stage. Even without Neymar, Brazil should still comfortably make it through to the knockout stage.