World Cup: Neymar and Danilo to miss rest of Brazil’s group-stage games following injury

Brazil forward Richarlison scores to give Brazil a 2-0 lead against Serbia at Lusail Stadium. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DOHA – Neymar and Danilo will miss Brazil’s remaining World Cup group games against Switzerland and Cameroon after suffering injuries in Thursday’s opening 2-0 victory over Serbia, their team’s doctor said on Friday.

“Neymar and Danilo went through an MRI on Friday afternoon and we found ligament damage in the ankle of both of them,” Rodrigo Lasmar told reporters.

“They will miss the next game (on Monday) for sure and we will be cautious as they will undergo treatment in order to try to get them in shape so they can play again in the World Cup.”

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar will be a big miss. He was seen with a swollen ankle after being substituted. Lasmar said afterwards that the player had suffered “lateral ligament damage”.

Brazil coach Tite was initially confident Neymar would be ready for the next game, though he has a plethora of options, having brought nine forwards to Qatar.

“You can be certain he will continue to play in the World Cup,” Tite said, confessing that he was initially unaware of the injury.

“I didn’t see Neymar was hurt. And he had the capacity to overcome this, he even tricked me.”

The injury was a blemish on a good day for Brazil, who saw both their goals scored by Richarlison.

From nearly missing the World Cup in Qatar to scoring a brace, it has been an emotional ride for the Tottenham Hotspur forward, who reflected on his tears after the Selecao’s win.

“It is a boyhood dream come true,” he told Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo at the Lusail Stadium.

“We played well, especially in the second half when our opponents started to tire and we took advantage.”

There had been fears the 25-year-old would not make the Brazil squad for the tournament, after he came off with a calf injury playing for Spurs in an English Premier League game against former club Everton in mid-October.

“Four weeks ago, I was crying, doubting whether I would come. The day I went for tests was one of the slowest of my life because I was there on the stretcher, waiting to get the results,” he said.

“The doctors were going past, and I was just nervously waiting. It was worth all the effort I put into my recovery. Three sessions a day. I was determined to come to the World Cup.”

Not only did Richarlison score the opening goal just after the hour mark to ease the pressure that was mounting for Brazil, but he also fired home a spectacular scissors-kick goal from close range in the 73rd minute.

He attributed his goal-of-the-tournament contender to his time in England, where he has had to learn to improvise owing to tight spaces.

“I scored a similar one in training and today I had the opportunity to hit one on the volley, and it came off,” he said.

“I said during the week that it was difficult to break through their block. I am used to playing in games like that in England, where teams tend to sit back, so I knew if I got the opportunity I needed to take it.”

Thursday’s result continues the record five-time winners’ superb record in the World Cup group stage, in which their last defeat came in 1998 against Norway.

Brazil are top of Group G ahead of Switzerland, who beat Cameroon 1-0 earlier and whom the Brazilians meet next.

Serbia will need to pick themselves up for their clash against Cameroon, after coach Dragan Stojkovic said his team could not cope with the physical demands of the match and added that injuries to key players, including Juventus duo Dusan Vlahovic and Filip Kostic, hindered his side.

He said: “We gave too much space to the Brazilians. But the key point for me is that my team physically was completely down – so I want to know why, because I don’t. This is a surprise for me, something strange.” AFP, REUTERS

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