Neymar’s tears told the story.
Neymar, Brazil’s superstar forward, will miss the rest of the World Cup group stage due to a sprained right ankle, according to a report Friday from Brazilian outlet ge.globo.
That’s not the major worry, though — a deep and explosive Brazil team should have little trouble advancing out of Group G even without Neymar, especially after Thursday’s 2-0 victory over Serbia in which Neymar was forced to the sideline in agony.
More important for Brazil’s hopes of capturing a sixth World Cup crown is Neymar’s availability after that, and team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar sounded a troubling note Friday when he declined to give a timetable for Neymar and instead said “the goal is to have him recover” in time to play at all in the rest of the tournament, per the AP.
Neymar will miss matches against Switzerland on Monday and against Cameroon next Friday. If Brazil advances as expected, it would play in the Round of 16 on Dec. 5 or Dec. 6, giving Neymar 10 days to make it back for the knockout round.
The 30-year-old Paris Saint-Germain star was in tears on the bench after limping out of the Serbia match in which he was fouled nine times in all. Brazil’s lineup replacement options include Rodrygo and the Arsenal duo of Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli, all of whom entered as substitutes on Thursday.
“Difficult game, but it was important to win,” Neymar wrote on social media after the match. “Congratulations team, first step taken. Six more to go.”
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Neymar previously was forced out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to a brutal back injury he sustained in the quarterfinals, and Brazil then was routed infamously by Germany, 7-1, the semifinals.
The World Cup future of Neymar’s PSG teammate Lionel Messi is in jeopardy of a different sort after Messi’s Argentina was stunned by Saudi Arabia in its World Cup opener, putting it in last place in Group C with two matches remaining.