“In this sense, playing Copa America without him is an important test of character for Brazil as well as a necessary shock of reality”
In sporting terms, the news that Neymar will miss Copa America due to an ankle injury sustained during Wednesday’s friendly against Qatar is a reason for Brazil fans to worry.
He is indeed the Selecao’s most prolific player, even when not perfectly match-fit, as shown in last year’s World Cup.
However, the PSG man’s absence is not necessarily bad news. Thanks to major off-pitch episodes – his altercation with a supporter at Stade de France and the rape accusations filed by a Brazilian woman – Neymar’s presence in the squad has become disruptive for Brazil’s preparations for La Copa.
Neymar has been ruled out of Brazil's 2019 Copa America campaign after rupturing ankle ligaments in a friendly against Qatar on Wednesday.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 6, 2019
This is a tournament they have failed to win in the last three editions and which they will now host under serious pressure to perform. The preparations have been hijacked by the news surrounding Neymar.
Also read: Neymar: Destination anywhere?
Former manager Dunga rightly said in 2006 that the real star of the Seleção is the famous yellow shirt. But things could not have been more different since Neymar emerged in 2011.
And if you want an example of how negative this can be, just look at how Brazil imploded after his injury in the 2014 World Cup.
Speaking of injuries, something more worrisome is how often Neymar has had them: in the last two seasons he has missed 43 games.
Concerns about his temper had already led Brazil manager Tite to strip him of the captaincy in favor of Dani Alves for the Copa, but now there is concern about the physical reliability of Brazil’s talismanic number 10.
?? @NeymarJR's last 4 months:
? 3 Month Injury
❌ Knocked out in @ChampionsLeague last 16
? Brawl with a @StadeRennais fan
❌ Banned by @UEFA for insulting referee
? Reported investigation over rape accusation
? Injured for entire Copa America
?♂️ Nightmare period. pic.twitter.com/HDFy5G9kSg
— SPORF (@Sporf) June 6, 2019
In this sense, playing Copa America without him is an important test of character for Brazil as well as a necessary shock of reality.
The time for the Selecao to be more than simply Neymar plus 10 other fellas is long overdue.