In the past 48 hours, I’ve lost count the number of conversations I’ve had with people or have overheard others talking about how Brazil won’t be able to defeat Germany due to the loss of Neymar and Thiago Silva.
In Brazil, meanwhile, the conversations have changed from “Neymar will win it,” to “Win it for Neymar.”
It’s one thing to miss the entire tournament through injury, but it’s quite another to lead your side up through the quarterfinal, and then have to miss the showpiece you set up for your team.
That’s especially true if, like Neymar, your country is hosting the tournament.
Neymar will get back to the World Cup. He’s still in his early twenties. But his chance to play in and win the World Cup Final in his home nation is gone.
Brazil reveres its number 10 so much more so than any other player that foreigners in the country have been left flabbergasted by the tonnage of Neymar jerseys in comparison with every other piece of clothing in the country.
Why is Neymar so beloved? He’s young, affable and good-looking off the field, and scintillating on it – but beyond that, Neymar is the only part of the current Brazil that shines.
Without Neymar, Brazil recedes almost entirely into brawn. Their best players are long on physical prowess and short on flair. No one could ever accuse Thiago Silva of too many flicks and tricks.
Think about it: The only lock in midfield is mustachioed holding player Luiz Gustavo. There’s no one to supplant journeyman forward Fred up top. Neymar’s partner-in-bleach Dani Alves has been dropped from the team for Maicon, and Brazil’s biggest attacking threat now is a man aptly named Hulk.
Neymar was the centerpiece. Framed around his brilliance, the rest of Brazil’s team made a decent supporting cast – never lacking in emotion or desire.
However much you believe that Brazil made Neymar’s bed with their abrasive play against Chile – and however much you believe that Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carbello was instructed to let players knock the stuffing out of one another to potentially suit the hosts – there is no justifying the horror what happened, for Neymar and Brazil.