Brazil’s star playmaker Neymar has been ruled out of the World Cup group stage after tests on the sprained ankle he suffered against Serbia.
The tournament favorites are in a strong position for qualifying for the last 16 – but the injury is a significant concern after he was the most fouled player in the first round of matches.
Neymar left the pitch in pain and with a swollen ankle in the 80th minute of his country securing a 2-0 win over Serbia.
Following tests, Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said on Friday he will be out for the remainder of the group stage but should be fit in time for the last 16.
“It was a direct trauma where the knee of a Serbian player made a movement that caused the sprain,” Lasmar had said on Thursday.
“He presented with some swelling of the ankle. We started treatment immediately, including on the bench. He is still in physio treatment now. And we will have to wait 24 to 48 hours before we have a clearer picture of the player’s situation.”
Tite, the Brazil manager, said Neymar had played through pain for much of the second half: “Neymar felt this pain in the game but he decided to stay on the pitch to help his team. It is remarkable that he could bear this pain while the team was playing.”
Tite added that he was not aware at first that Neymar had suffered an injury, and only realized when the forward controlled the ball in a “strange” way. “I saw it now, in the video,” said the Brazil manager.
“It was when he dribbled that he caused the injury. With the capacity he has to overcome it, he tricked me. I was not able to see it.”
Asked if he would call up another player if Neymar is ruled out of the tournament, Tite said he was confident that Brazil’s star player would be able to play again in the coming weeks.
Neymar has come into this tournament following a sensational start to the season with Paris Saint-Germain, but he struggled to make a major impact against Serbia before he was replaced by Manchester United winger Antony.
Brazil’s next match is against Switzerland on Monday, before they face Cameroon in the final game of the group stages on December 2.