Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Neymar ‘will be fit to play for Brazil again at this World Cup as his return is marked for the last 16’

Brazil refuse to ban Neymar from the World Cup but he is unlikely to play again until the knockout stages after spraining his ankle in the win against Serbia.

Real Madrid striker Rodrygo is most likely to replace him against Switzerland on Monday and Tite won’t risk his playmaker in the third group game against Cameroon if he thinks Brazil can progress without him.

Right-back Danilo, who also picked up an ankle injury against Serbia, will not play in the remaining two group games and his absence could mean a World Cup return for Dani Alves aged 39.

It will come down to former Barcelona full-back Alves, who now plays in Mexico or Militao.

Neymar twisted his right ankle in the second half against the Serbs. He tried to continue before being replaced by Antony in the 80th minute and burst into tears when he was treated off the field.

It is the third World Cup in a row that he has been plagued by an injury. In 2014 he injured his back in the quarterfinals.

In 2018 he came to the World Cup after a three-month break with a broken foot. This time, however, Brazil has more creative support.

Tottenham striker Richarlison was the hero of Thursday’s win, scoring twice in the 2-0 win. The second was a spectacular volley.

“He’s a great player and very important to us,” said Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson.

“Attacking and defending, he brings so much onto the field for the good of the team. I’m really happy and proud that he scored two goals and one of them was such a fantastic goal, it was incredible.”

Manchester United winger Antony added: “He’s a great guy and he deserves it. This is Richarlison, you give him a chance and he scores.

“You should see him in training. He takes photos from anywhere and from all possible angles. He’s an incredible player.’

Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar revealed the extent of Neymar and Danilo’s injuries.

He said: “Players Neymar and Danilo started treatment yesterday (Thursday) right after our game.

“This (Friday) morning they were re-evaluated as we had already advanced in yesterday’s interview.

“Based on today’s clinical evaluation, we felt it was important to do imaging tests and an MRI to get more data on the development of the two players.

“The investigations showed a collateral ligament injury to Neymar’s right ankle in bone edema.

“And a medial ligament injury to Danilo’s left ankle. The players remain in treatment. It is very important to be very calm and peaceful. This assessment is performed daily so that we have information and can make the best decisions based on it.’

There had been fears it would be a repeat of the 2014 tournament when Neymar, who had basically led Brazil to the quarter-finals, was put on a stretcher after suffering a back injury against Colombia.

Although Brazil went on to win the game, his injury had a profound impact on his team-mates and apparently contributed to their stunning semi-final defeat when he lost 7-1 to eventual winners Germany.

Although Tite has a wealth of attacking talent to call on, Neymar is undisputedly Brazil’s key player and certainly holds the key to any hopes they have of lifting their first World Cup crown since 2002 – their sixth overall.

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