Brazil entered the 2022 FIFA World Cup as the betting favorite due in no small part to expectations that superstar striker Neymar would help them dominate. But an ankle injury he suffered yesterday could force them to re-assess.
According to reports, Neymar has been ruled out for at least the remainder of the group stage. As a result, he will miss Monday's game against Switzerland and next Friday's final game against Cameroon.
Neymar helped set up Brazil's opening goal in yesterday's 2-0 win over Serbia. But he was seen clutching his ankle late in the second half. Though often accused of faking injuries, this one looked nasty.
At the time, Brazil manager Tite boldly asserted that it was fine and that Neymar wouldn't miss time. “Don’t worry, Neymar will play the World Cup. He will keep playing, you can be sure about that," he said.
Neymar, meanwhile, was not as bright and refused to speak to the media about it after the game.
Neymar has been one of the world's top strikers for the better part of a decade. He's been the No. 10 for Brazil since his historic move to Barcelona in 2013 and is now only two goals shy of passing the legendary Pele for the most goals scored in the nation's history.
The good news for Brazil is that they should have enough depth to still go blow-for-blow with the remaining teams in the group stage. But if Neymar's absence persists into the knockout round - where the stars REALLY need to step up - Brazil's door to a sixth World Cup title could slam shut.
Will Brazil find a way to advance to the knockout round without Neymar?