Here’s an update on what has to be the most watched ankle in the world for the past week. On Sunday, Neymar’s right ankle and the rest of his body were at the training ground with the rest of the Brazil national soccer team in Doha, Qatar. That was good news for Brazil fans. It would have been very unsettling if his ankle was there but not the rest of the star striker’s body. Also, Neymar’s overall physical training boded well that his right ankle has recovered enough to be available for Monday’s round of 16 match against South Korea at the 2022 World Cup.
As I reported for forbes On November 25, Neymar’s right ankle drew global attention after a Serbian player’s knee caused his right foot to roll inward or roll over. This resulted in a sprained lateral ligament in the right ankle in the team’s first group game win against Serbia. A sprain is essentially a rupture of a ligament. Ligaments are the fibrous tissues that help connect one bone to another. If someone asked you, “Could I borrow all the tapes from your body,” you should say “No” and take a quick step back. Because without ligaments in your body, your bones wouldn’t stay as tightly connected, which wouldn’t be good, especially if you want to play soccer or shuffledance.
Shortly after the Serbia game, it was unclear how serious Neymar’s injury was. Based on the noticeable swelling immediately after he left the field, it looked worse than a grade 1 sprain. A grade 3 sprain (which would be a full tear) or a more severe grade 2 sprain (which would be a large partial tear) would have meant Neymar was dead for the rest of the World Cup. Neymar ended up missing the remaining two group stage games. And in both games against Switzerland and then Cameroon, Brazil looked significantly less effective without Neymar, much like in the movie sequel Speed 2: cruise control looked without Keanu Reeves, the star of the original film Speed. Now that Neymar is back on the training ground, it looks like he probably has a degree 2 sprain, which wasn’t particularly serious.
In a press conference on Sunday, Brazil coach Tite said the following about Neymar: “He will train this afternoon and if everything is fine, he will play.” medical department clarifies this.
Neymar’s return would be good news for them Seleca, this is the nickname for the Brazilian national soccer team. Usually you want your star player to be available for a World Cup game, especially when your team reaches the knockout stages. The KO round doesn’t mean that only really hot people are allowed to play. Instead, it means you have to win every game to advance and play. A loss means you are out of the tournament and effectively going home.
Monday’s matchup is fascinating. It juxtaposes what many consider to be the most successful national program in World Cup history with a national program that made great strides in the 200s. Brazil have won the World Cup five times and before the tournament were the favorites to lift the trophy for the sixth time because, you know, five plus one is six. In contrast, South Korea had not even qualified for the round of 16 until the 2002 World Cup, which was held in Japan and Korea. South Korea took fourth place at this World Cup, which was surprising at the time.
Since then, South Korea has grown significantly in terms of power and consistency. This year’s side, led by captain Son Heung Min, are formidable opponents who finished second in Group H after beating Portugal 2-1 in the third and final game of the group stage. They finished their group stage with a win, a draw and a group stage loss while Brazil won two of their matches before losing to Cameroon.
Of course, just because Neymar might be back doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be at his full strength. Football, or soccer as it’s known in the US, involves a lot of pivoting and twisting, which can put tremendous pressure on your knuckles. You also need to have some flexibility in your ankles, which is another reason why you don’t usually wear ugg boots when playing soccer. The other reason is that they are ugg boots. It will be interesting to see how Neymar moves on the field at the end. Regardless, his presence on the field alone should change the dynamic of the game.
Two injured ankles could be back for Monday’s showdown in Qatar. The other ankle belongs to Brazil right-back Danilo, who injured his left ankle against Serbia but also appears to be at right back, so to speak. The game against Serbia was a bad turn for both Neymar and Danilo. However, they hope they can get past South Korea and eventually it will be their turn to hold up the 2022 World Cup trophy on December 18th.