Brazil started the 2022 FIFA World Cup in fine form with a 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday – but the Selecao are worried after an injury to star striker Neymar.
Richarlison scored a double in the crucial second-half win that put the Selecao an early place at the top of Group G.
But even more worryingly, superstar Neymar left the field in tears after suffering a severe blow to his ankle late in the game.
The PSG attacker is no stranger to picking up injuries at the worst possible moment and all eyes will now be on his fitness.
Sporting News will keep you updated as the Brazilian striker’s injury is assessed.
MORE: Brazil’s World Cup squad, who could replace Neymar if injured?
Neymar’s last World Cup injury
After helping Brazil open the scoring against Serbia on 24 November, Neymar had to be forced off the field in the 80th minute.
The 30-year-old was down after being subjected to a tough tackle that appeared to injure his right ankle, which was treated immediately by Brazil’s medical staff.
Neymar aimed throughout the game against Serbia, fouling a tournament high nine times and eventually feeling the full weight of one of those challenges.
— Gols Copa 2022 (@golscopa2022) November 24, 2022
📸Así quedó la pierna de Neymar tras la entrada de Milenkovic. pic.twitter.com/Do0dD1v1F2
— Express Futbol (@ExpressFutbolCL) November 24, 2022
Neymar was visibly emotional after leaving the field and he was seen on the bench in tears – with fears the injury could now limit his participation in the 2022 World Cup.
Brazil will try to further investigate the injury, with scans likely to be carried out in the next 24 hours to confirm the extent of Neymar’s final blow.
Given his immediate reactions and subsequent swelling, the news may not bode well for him or the team as they seek to win their first World Cup in 20 years – although coach Tite later told the press he hopes that doesn’t happen will be serious.
He insisted: “Neymar will play [in the rest of the World Cup]. I can be absolutely sure that Neymar will play!”
Neymar had to leave the pitch late in the Serbia clash with an apparent ankle injury. 😬 pic.twitter.com/XQNjCmWPD3
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) November 24, 2022
— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) November 24, 2022
When will Neymar play for Brazil again?
Although there are no concrete details on Neymar’s injury yet, early swelling and contact make it seem highly unlikely that he will feature in Brazil’s next game against Switzerland on November 28.
Should Tite’s side win this game, they would be all but guaranteed a place in the knockout stages, meaning Neymar would not need to take any chances against Ghana even if his recovery is on track.
Based on the scenario above, Neymar has around 11 days to rest and try to be fit before Brazil likely take the field in the round of 16.
MORE: Best World Cup goal yet? Richarlison’s scissor strike for Brazil, no doubt
Who could Brazil replace Neymar with?
An injury to Neymar would leave a pretty big hole for Brazil to fill on the pitch.
He was instrumental in the opening goal of the 2022 World Cup against Serbia, and his one-on-one ability is hard to beat.
Neymar was replaced by Anthony against Serbia and the Manchester United youngster certainly has the creative skills to fill part of Neymar’s void.
Newcastle United star Bruno Guimaraes is another possible option and the 25-year-old didn’t feature at all in Brazil’s opening game so he will be excited.
However, Guimaraes is a little more defensive than Neymar, so Tite might have to change his line-up a bit to take that into account.
Neymar’s injury history
Unfortunately, Neymar is no stranger to injuries at the worst possible time when it comes to playing for Brazil.
The 30-year-old missed his team’s infamous 7-1 defeat by Germany at the 2014 World Cup after injuring his back.
Four years later, Neymar was struggling somewhat in Russia, having fractured his fifth metatarsal just three months before the start of the tournament.
It now seems unlucky for a third time as Brazil sweat on their superstar’s fitness in Qatar.
Neymar had come into shape and form for the 2022 World Cup, with his last injury break at club level dating back to early February this year.