Less than 24 hours after the World Cup trembled with the images of Neymar's inflamed right ankle, in the training camp of the Brazilian team, the shirt of the 10 most prominent was that of a guy enclosed in a giant yellow stuffed animal.
Canarinho, Brazil's mascot bird, posed for dozens of photos with the guests at the training session open to family and friends of the team the day after making his debut with victory (2-0).
Shortly after the nearby mosque called to prayer, those who had not started against Serbia appeared on the grass of the Grand Hamad stadium.
A headline also appeared, like Vinicius, at a charlet trot with an assistant.
But not Neymar.
The attacker had stayed at the hotel so that the physios could continue treating him.
The medical examinations carried out on him this Friday determined that he had suffered a sprain and that he also had a small bone edema.
The result of one of the entries of the Serbs.
In addition to pain, he was devastated: “Today became one of the most difficult moments of my career.
Again in a World Cup.
I am injured.
It hurts but I'm sure I'll be able to come back,” he wrote on Instagram.
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The first certainty about the Brazilian, the center of the favorite team in Qatar, is that he will not be able to play against Switzerland on Monday (5:00 p.m., Movistar).
From there, everything remains uncertain, although the appearance of the foot, and the reference to inflammation in the bone, lead one to think that the attacker will not play next Friday against Cameroon (8:00 p.m., Movistar), and that it is only reasonable to expect it in eighths.
Sources from the Brazilian federation, however, do not want to look that far.
They prefer to wait to observe the evolution of the ankle, and have a more precise idea of the deadlines after Switzerland.
But they do not doubt that he will be able to play again in Qatar.
The first, the coach, Tite, who on the same Thursday, still in the Lusail stadium, assured that he would see him again on the pitch.
That night there was sorrow in the Canarinha
The doctor, Rodrigo Lesmar, appeared first, and after detailing what little he had been able to find out about the state of the ankle, he said that Neymar had lasted 11 minutes on the field after the tackle that twisted his foot.
Until he saw the game closed.
Then, in the 80th minute, unable to take the pain any longer, he sat down on the grass, asked to be looked at, got up and limped from the game to the bench, where he pulled his shirt over his head.
The entry that took him out of the match was not an isolated incident.
The referee called Serbia 14 fouls on Thursday, and nine were for Neymar, 64%, according to Opta's tally.
No one received so many on the first day of the World Cup.
But it's not just now.
Neymar has been the main prisoner of the World Cups since he made his debut in Brazil in 2014. Since then, he has been the player who has been fouled the most, 53, with a notable distance from the following: Hazard, with 42, and Messi, with 36. If you look at the data every 90 minutes, to compare footballers who have played a different number of games, Neymar is still in the lead, with 4.83 fouls per game, ahead of Hazard (3.99) and from Costa Rican Joel Campbell (3.79).
Taking into account the World Cups since the one in England in 1966, there are only four footballers who have received more fouls per game than the Brazilian: Maradona (7.05), Ariel Ortega (5.89), Enzo Francescoli (5.17 ) and Alexis Sánchez (5.09).
The persecution that Neymar suffered against Serbia did not seem casual.
Four years earlier, at the World Cup in Russia, they had also met, with the same result, 2-0.
That day, Neymar peppered them with a succession of chances and dangerous passes, and with an assist for Thiago Silva on the second goal.
On that occasion, the Serbs made 11 fouls, three less than this time, but above all they chose the victims in a different way.
Only three went to Neymar, the same as Willian, much less incisive.
Before Thursday, the Serbian coach, Dragan Stojkovic, had already expressed his concern about how to defuse Brazil's attack: “We need to be focused and try to stop them in the right way and in an intelligent way.
It is possible to stop them”.
After the match, he didn't think his players had been too tough:
“They have been normal fouls, normal yellow cards.
A very fair and correct match,
A clean game, and a deserved victory for Brazil”.
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