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Despite bad news concerning a three-match Champions League ban next season, Neymar must stay focussed on the Copa America comeback trail

Neymar’s mega-money move to Paris Saint Germain has been ruined so far because of injuries. Just like last season, the Brazilian missed the decisive stages of the UEFA Champions League, this time around. But following his rather disappointing displays in the World Cup, Brazil fans will be hoping that the Seleção star will have regained full fitness right in time for the Copa América.

PSG broke the bank to sign Neymar for around $250 million, so that he would make the difference for them in the Champions League. The French giants would win the Ligue Un title with their eyes closed eyes with him or without him.

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But to be fair, this PSG side is a strong letdown in its current state. Neymar did make the difference, helping them qualify out of a very complicated group, featuring the likes of Liverpool and Napoli. In fact, it could be argued that without Neymar’s brilliance, PSG would not have even reached the knockout phase of the competition.

Case in point, the French giants bottled a 2-0 away win at Old Trafford, and lost 3-1 on home soil against Manchester United, because of silly and avoidable mistakes. It shows that the team lacked character and leadership. While it is true that Neymar is not exactly the role model you would want your kid to follow, due to some of his anger issues and diving antics, it is impossible to argue his worth on the pitch.

A case in point is a three-match Champions League suspension in next year’s competition for a social media tirade against officialdom after the Manchester United exit.

Neymar is a legit difference-maker who can show his quality under the most difficult moments of pressure – when in full fitness of course, which was not the case during last year’s World Cup. But you’re telling me that a fully fit Neymar would not have guided PSG past this fragile Manchester United side? I would certainly not have made a bet against it.

But that is all in the past now, so let’s concentrate on Saturday and the Coupe de France final against Rennes. Neymar is officially back from injury, around a month-and-a-half prior to Copa América’s opener between Brazil and Bolivia in June. This time around, he is back earlier than last year, meaning that he has the opportunity to prepare in a better way and to regain fitness levels and match rhythm right in time for the prestigious tournament.

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Brazil is well-geared in all the sectors, from goalkeeper to striker. It all depends on Tite’s tactics and selection of players, but it will also very much depend on whether Neymar will be able to show his best level. I think at this stage, the majority of Brazil fans are aware that if Neymar shows his finest form, the rest of his teammates will grow in terms of confidence, show their best level, and Brazil will win the tournament.

But between hope and reality, the difference can be very big. One thing is for sure, though, is that another failure, in fact, any failure to win the upcoming tournament, would result in the dismissal of Tite, and in most certainly the overhaul of all the veterans of the squad – alongside a couple of scapegoats from the younger generation, à la Rafael da Silva. Every major tournament needs a hero, and this is quite possibly Neymar’s last chance to be Brazil’s hero and regain the huge support he once had in his country.

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