Brazil is confident that Neymar will return to lead their bid for sixth place Globalism Cup despite the most expensive player in the world suffering an ankle injury in his opening match in Qatar.
The Brazil captain was taken off late in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday after he was later diagnosed with a sprained ankle and has since been ruled out of his second Group G appearance against Switzerland on Monday.
Doubts have been raised in some quarters that he might struggle to appear again in the tournament, which ends with the final match in Doha on December 18.
But defender Marquinhos, who is also a teammate of the PSG striker, said Neymar has been spending his days in intensive physiotherapy since then in an effort to regain full fitness as soon as possible.
“At that time it was difficult for him and after the match he was sad, which I think is normal given how much he dreamed of this,” centre-back Marquinhos told a news conference in the Qatari capital on Sunday.
“Now, after tests and treatment, he’s doing physiotherapy 24 hours a day, which just goes to show how much he wants to be back with us.
“We don’t know when, but we hope it will be as soon as possible.”
Brazil coach Tite insisted in the immediate aftermath of the victory over Serbia that the 30-year-old Neymar would certainly play again in the tournament, but this time he was more grounded when pressed on the subject of the star’s fitness, as well as that right-back Danilo.
“I think Neymar and Danilo will play again in the World Cup. I do. But medically and clinically I am not in a position to say anything.”
“I will continue to do it, not only for Neymar but also for Danilo. I think we will be able to use it again.”
Brazil’s victory over Switzerland at Doha Stadium 974 could be enough for them to secure a place in the last 16 with one match left in the group, depending on the outcome of the previous Group G match between Cameroon and Serbia.
They will then play in the last 16 on either December 5 or 6.
– Dani Alves to play? –
Danilo, the 31-year-old Juventus full-back, also suffered an ankle injury against Serbia and is expected to be replaced by either Real Madrid’s Eder Militao or 39-year-old Dani Alves.
However, it is Neymar’s injury that dominates all the talk in Brazil, a country that used to hang onto the fitness of its creative World Cup inspiration.
In 2014 he suffered a broken bone in his back when Brazil beat Colombia in the quarter-finals and missed the semi-finals as the host nation lost 7-1 to Germany.
Four years ago he had to race to be fit in time for the World Cup in Russia and his impact on the tournament was limited as the Selecao lost in the quarter-finals to Belgium.
This time he captains a Brazilian side with attacking quality that won the opening game thanks to a brace from Tottenham Hotspur’s Richarlison.
“Obviously we wanted to get Neymar and Danilo. The coach wanted all 26 players available for the World Cup. But we are ready and confident that we can show how strong the team is, that we are well trained and ready for whatever the tournament will throw at us,” said Marquinhos.
“In the World Cup, the team that starts the tournament is not always the team that finishes it, because of injuries or because some are playing better than others.
“Everyone has an important role to play.”
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