Brazil faces World Cup clashes without Neymar
6 October 2015, Nirapad News: Much has changed for Brazil’s national team since last year’s humiliating World Cup exit, but as the 2018 qualifying campaign gets underway Thursday one worrying factor stays the same: the absence of superstar Neymar.
More than a year has passed since that extraordinary 7-1 meltdown against Germany in Brazil’s own World Cup.
Since then there’s been the almost equally embarrassing failure to survive the Copa America, going out to lowly Paraguay on penalties. The coach has been changed and there have been endless postmortems.
But in all that turmoil, the football-mad nation has remained fixated on national captain and Barcelona star Neymar and the near obsessive fear that without him the “canarinha”, as the team’s called, cannot win.
He was out injured during the 2014 Cup semi-final drubbing. Then at the Copa America against Colombia he was red carded and handed a four-match suspension, missing the rest of the tournament, along with his country’s disappointing exit.
Now with two matches still left on that suspension, Neymar will again be absent for Brazil’s 2018 opening qualifiers against Chile on Thursday and Venezuela on 13 October.
A promise to improve his conduct — “I mustn’t let myself do such stupid things,” he said in Barcelona recently — and an appeal for his suspensions to be postponed failed. And Brazil is dreading the consequences.
For pessimists, Neymar isn’t just important: the supremely skilled scoring machine is one of the last representatives of Brazil’s fabled “jogo bonito,” or beautiful game.