How Brazil will cope with loss of Neymar at World Cup


It was all going so effectively. Perhaps too effectively.

True, Brazil struggled to interrupt down Serbia within the first half of their World Cup opener. But the ball moved faster and the expertise flowed as Richarlison’s brace sealed a 2-0 win in a scintillating second half. And, absolutely to the delight of coach Tite, the group went with an ultra-attacking lineup however at no time regarded within the remotest hazard of conceding a objective. Even the truth that the group needed to work exhausting for its openings was a plus.

Things may hardly have gone higher — till a cloud was forged with these two accidents, doubtlessly knocking out Neymar and Danilo from at least the following two matches.

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There are some awkward coincidences within the two ankle accidents. Neymar has a historical past of World Cup misfortune, pressured out of 2014 within the course of the competitors and 4 years later getting back from a long-term layoff. And Danilo additionally fell by the wayside throughout Russia 2018.

More considerably, the loss of these gamers sheds mild on the 2 mini-controversies within the squad that coach Tite introduced earlier this month: the absence of Roberto Firmino and the inclusion of Dani Alves.

Brazil have extra high quality vast gamers than they know what to do with. They most likely want {that a} soccer area may have 4 flanks. The ultimate place within the squad ended up going to 1 of these vast strikers — the membership type of Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli proved inconceivable to withstand. Firmino made means, though he’s the closest Brazil can get to a alternative for Neymar within the false No. 9 position, opening up house and slipping passes by means of to the wingers.

Some in Brazil level to the 2019 Copa America, which Brazil received with out Neymar, who was injured on the eve of the competitors. They argue that, partially based mostly on the proof of the Serbia match, Brazil are higher off with out their No. 10. This is unquestionably a false argument. Wingers and centre-forwards hardly ever win video games on their very own. The likes of Richarlison and Vinicius Junior profit massively from the work of Neymar, nonetheless Brazil’s excellent attacking expertise.

But some in Brazil have even been celebrating his harm. Neymar has at all times been a divisive determine, and absolutely did himself few favours with an ill-judged entry into the political area. In a democracy, everybody has the fitting to vote for his or her candidate of selection, however Neymar went additional with his vocal assist of far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who was overwhelmed in Brazil’s current presidential elections.

It takes Neymar into terrain which, at this stage in his life, he’s ill-equipped to traverse. This, in any case, is a person who just some weeks in the past in a Spanish court docket confessed that he merely indicators papers his father places in entrance of him. He might have damaged a pact through which the Brazil squad seem to have agreed to not turn into over-involved within the nation’s most polarised election in reminiscence.

His selection appears to be like no higher within the mild of occasions — Bolsonaro misplaced his bid for reelection and considerations about his anti-democratic tendencies have been heightened by his reluctance to simply accept the outcome. And Neymar unwisely reworked the group right into a political automobile when he promised to dedicate his first objective in Qatar to Bolsonaro. Neymar, then, has discovered a strategy to put a majority of the nation in opposition to him, and lots of have latched on to Richarlison as the brand new hero, each for his objectives and his social conscience.

But it might be unwise to conflate any bitterness about Neymar’s political stance with doubts about his high quality as a participant and his significance to the group. He will be missed. And it might be merciless certainly if he doesn’t get an opportunity to point out himself at his finest on this competitors.

So, with out Firmino to step in, Brazil must get by with out Neymar, for the following two video games at least. A extremely promising technology of attackers now have to simply accept extra accountability. The teaching workers has enormous religion in Rodrygo of Real Madrid, seen as the long run of the nationwide group. Has the long run come early? Perhaps, though there will not be house for a alternative.

Brazil at all times meant to make use of their ultra-attacking formation in opposition to Serbia, and revert to one thing extra orthodox in opposition to Switzerland, whom they face Monday. They see the Swiss as a extra balanced facet, with defensive solidity and attacking tempo. So the plan at all times was for Fred to return to the midfield, with Lucas Paqueta shifting larger up the pitch.

Someone must drop out, which till Neymar’s harm regarded like a really robust selection. Before the Serbia recreation the clear candidate was Vinicius Jr., however it might be an enormous name to drop him after his show Thursday. And so Paqueta may merely transfer up into Neymar’s slot, the sorcerer’s apprentice promoted to the highest job, permitting Brazil to retain two wingers and a centre-forward.



Richarlison’s opener, in addition to his acrobatic objective for Brazil in opposition to Serbia at the World Cup recreated in Lego.

The presence of Fred turns into important if Brazil are to exchange Danilo with the opposite specialist right-back, Alves. At the age of 39, he wants the safety offered by the lung energy of Fred. Coach Tite has traumatic recollections of the quarterfinal elimination to Belgium 4 years in the past. The left facet was Marcelo, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar. No one was doing a lot defending, and that’s the place Belgium regarded to strike. A proper flank of Alves, Paqueta and Raphinha appears to be like equally weak.

An different could be to play Eder Militao as a defensive right-back. Brazil had a glance at this in September’s pleasant in opposition to Ghana, and the outcomes had been higher than anticipated. But it might go away the coach uncovered to criticism. What was the purpose, it might be stated, of taking Alves if he was not going for use when the first-choice right-back will get injured? Such an choice would make the absence of Firmino all of the extra evident.

World Cups, of course, can’t be received within the group section. They can solely be misplaced. And the excellent news for Brazil is that they have already got three factors within the bag. It offers them some respiration house as they search to regulate — hopefully, solely quickly — to life with out Neymar.


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