Brazil boss Tite insists Neymar will return to the World Cup despite a suspected ankle sprain in a 2-0 Group G win over Serbia. The striker came off with 11 minutes remaining, with television footage showing him staggering and with a badly swollen ankle.
In the final minutes of the game, he looked like he was on the verge of tears as he sat on the bench before slowly limping back into the locker room.
Neymar was roughed up by Serbia’s aggressive defense throughout the night, fouled nine times during the game and subjected to numerous off-ball shoves.
But Tite, who enjoyed a near-perfect night as Brazil started their campaign convincingly, said Neymar would be assessed in the next 24-48 hours and believed his injury was not serious.
“Don’t worry, Neymar will be at the World Cup,” he said. “He’s going to keep playing, you can be sure of that.”
Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar has confirmed Neymar has “direct trauma” to his right ankle after being tackled by Serbia’s Nikola Milenkovic. “We started treatment right away on the bench. He continued with physio, but now we need to wait 24-48 hours for a better assessment. He felt this pain throughout the game but opted after the injury. To stay on the field and help his team. It’s amazing what he does.”
Perhaps Tite’s relaxed demeanor was an attempt to avoid the kind of injury drama that occurred at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when Neymar ended the quarter-final stage with a fractured vertebra and hysterical teams chanted about his empty shirt. The national anthem is played before the semi-final against Germany. Brazil went on to lose 7-1.