Brazil have started their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign in fine form, with a 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday, but there is a big looming concern for the Selecao, following an injury to star striker Neymar.
Richarlison scored a second-half brace in the crucial victory, which sees the Selecao claim an early place at the top of Group G.
But most worryingly, superstar Neymar left the field in tears, after sustaining a severe ankle blow late in the game.
The PSG attacker is no stranger to picking up injuries at the worst moment, and now all eyes will be on his fitness going forward.
The Sporting News will keep you updated with the latest as the Brazilian striker’s injury is assessed.
MORE: Brazil’s World Cup squad, who could replace Neymar if he gets injured?
Neymar’s last World Cup injury
After playing a role in Brazil’s first goal against Serbia on November 24, Neymar was sent off the field in the 80th minute.
The 30-year-old had fallen to the ground after being subjected to a strong tackle that appeared to hurt his right ankle, for which he was immediately treated by Brazilian medical staff.
Neymar scored throughout the Serbia match, committing a tournament-high nine fouls, and ultimately felt the full brunt of one of those challenges.
— Goals Cup 2022 (@golscopa2022) November 24, 2022
?This is how Neymar’s leg looked after Milenkovic’s entrance. pic.twitter.com/Do0dD1v1F2
— Express Soccer (@ExpressFutbolCL) November 24, 2022
Neymar was visibly emotional after leaving the pitch, seen crying on the bench, fearing injury will now limit his participation in the 2022 World Cup.
Brazil will look to further assess the injury, with scans likely over the next 24 hours to confirm the extent of Neymar’s last strike.
Based on his immediate reactions and subsequent inflammation, the news may not be good for him or the team as they look to win their first World Cup in 20 years, although coach Tite told reporters afterward that he is hopeful. that it is not so. I laughed.
He insisted: “Neymar is going to play [in the rest of the World Cup]. I can be absolutely sure that Neymar is going to play!”
Neymar had to leave the field at the end of their clash with Serbia with an apparent ankle injury. ? pic.twitter.com/XQNjCmWPD3
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) November 24, 2022
—Robin Bairner (@RBairner) November 24, 2022
When will Neymar play for Brazil again?
While there are no firm details on Neymar’s injury yet, based on early swelling and contact, it seems highly unlikely that he will play in Brazil’s next game against Switzerland on November 28.
If Tite’s side win that game, they would be all but guaranteed a place in the knockout phase, meaning Neymar wouldn’t have to take any chances against Ghana even if his recovery is on track.
Based on the above scenario, that gives Neymar around 11 days to rest and try to get fit before Brazil probably take the field in the round of 16.
MORE: Best World Cup goal so far? Richarlison’s scissor kick for Brazil, no doubt
Who could Brazil replace Neymar with?
An injury to Neymar would leave a pretty big hole to fill on the pitch for Brazil.
He was instrumental in their opening goal of the 2022 World Cup against Serbia, with his one-on-one ability almost impossible to match.
Neymar was replaced by anthony against Serbia and young Manchester United certainly have the creative chops to fill some of the Neymar void.
Newcastle United star Bruno Guimaraes looms as another possible option, and the 25-year-old was not used at all in Brazil’s opening game, so he will be looking forward to playing.
However, Guimaraes is a bit more defensive-minded than Neymar, so Tite may need to change his formation a bit to account for that.
Neymar’s injury history
Unfortunately, Neymar is no stranger to injuries at the worst possible time when it comes to playing for Brazil.
The 30-year-old missed his team’s infamous 7-1 loss to Germany at the 2014 World Cup after hurting his back.
Four years later, Neymar struggled in Russia after breaking his fifth metatarsal just three months before the start of the tournament.
Now it appears to be a case of bad luck for the third time as Brazil sweats over the fitness of their superstar in Qatar.
Neymar had come into the 2022 World Cup fit and proper, with his latest injury absence at club level dating back to early February of this year.