He was at times nimble and light-footed as he worked out with his teammates Tuesday, but there was no mistaking that Neymar, in addition to being newly shorn of some of his blond locks, also was limping.
That limp came from pain in his right ankle and caused him to leave practice early and seek treatment, according to Brazil’s O Globo. He is expected to be available for the team’s next game Friday against Costa Rica, and the pain was reportedly unrelated to the surgery Neymar had for a foot fracture in February. Rather, it was linked to the fact that the forward was fouled repeatedly in Brazil’s 1-1 tie with Switzerland on Sunday.
Neymar was fouled 10 times, a number that ESPN noted was the most against one player in one World Cup game since 1998, when England’s Alan Shearer was fouled 11 times against Tunisia. And no player in Brazilian soccer history had been fouled more times in a game since 1966.
It was no way to treat a superstar, especially one playing in his third game since having surgery.
Alexi Lalas took vocal exception to the treatment, which resulted in three yellow cards for the Swiss. The Fox Sports analyst called it “a disgraceful performance by the referee and by Switzerland,” noting that they “tried to kill him” as they tugged at his shirt, knocked him to the ground, grabbed at him and once slapped him across the face. Of course, others thought that Neymar milked the contact for all it was worth, falling to the ground often. Still, considering the stakes, ESPN Brazil’s Arnaldo Ribeiro was critical of Neymar for failing to deliver.
“Neymar was a complete disaster,” he said (via Marca).”He did not have an acceptable game and should have been substituted. Brazil have a good team and collective quality to get themselves out of problems but Neymar tried to win the game on his own and he failed. He has the excuse of his recent operation but he did not perform and didn’t produce anything good for the team.”
ESPN’s FC crew felt that Neymar seemed to invite the physical abuse, preferring free kicks to scoring chances.
Former player Ze Elias argued (via Marca) that Neymar “was selfish on the pitch and for that reason suffered so many fouls, but I don’t think they went for him. The problem is that Neymar forgot to play as a team and kept the ball.”
If Neymar cannot play Friday against Costa Rica, he could be replaced by Costa or Renato Augusto, with Philippe Coutinho moving to the left wing. After tying Switzerland, Brazil sits second in Group E behind Serbia, its final group stage opponent.
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