Brazil kick-off their Copa America 2021 campaign when they lock horns against Venezuela in South America’s biggest football carnival. The champions of the 2019 Copa America will look to win their second title in a row and they have all the weapons to accomplish it. Brazil’s transformation started after a run of poor results ruled them out of the 100th edition of the Copa America in the United States.
Brazil has always been one of the most successful and dominant sides in South America. It’s been the land that has given birth to legends like Pele and Ronaldinho. And the strikers’ factory of Brazil produced another magician in 2010, Neymar Jr.
Há 12 anos atrás eu realizava o meu sonho de criança 😍❤️⚽️ TE AMO FUTEBOL pic.twitter.com/oHSJdKhqSM
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) March 7, 2021
The 29-year-old has had all the tricks up his sleeve since his club and international debut. Playing for Barcelona since 2013, he had revolutionized attacking football at the Spanish club. The veteran has netted 64 goals for the team in yellow.
#TBT 🔙 quando a magia é usada no futebol ⚽🎇🧙♂️#TBT 🔙When magic is being used in football ⚽🎇🧙♂️#neymar #neymarjr #njr #psg #parissaintgermain pic.twitter.com/8LOQG39MP7
— Neymar Jr Site (@NeymarJrSite) May 13, 2021
But for the past few years, his injuries and his drop-in form have made fans and pundits question his importance for Brazil. It’s still imaginable to win a football match with average players but not with a team just full of galacticos. And Tite and Brazil have decided to remove the PSG striker from their plans.
PLEASE FALL BACK!
The talismanic striker was the key engine behind Brazil’s success in the Rio Olympics in 2016. But since then his role in the team has started to reduce and young blood have taken full advantage of the opportunities they have been given.
Neymar the hero as Brazil beat Germany on penalties to win their first ever #Olympics football gold medal! #Rio2016 pic.twitter.com/RQAo8SXYbn
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 21, 2016
When Neymar receives the ball in the further half of the pitch he turns into a magician. But if his tricks don’t work for once, the Brazilian is not fond of helping his team out in defence.
Tracking back has never been Neymar’s priority creating a lot of pressure on Brazil’s goal. Strikers are always expected to track a few runs and snatch possession from opponents up the field but it’s hardly the case with Neymar.
In the Round of 16 of the Champions League, Neymar’s club PSG were up against English giants Manchester United. Though they cruised to a comfortable win, PSG’s coach had to make a lot of tactical changes to accommodate for Neymar’s defensive negligence.
THE START OF THE DOWNFALL IN RUSSIA.
He had some notable moments in Russia that made him end up in the bad books of many pundits. The most successful team in the history of the World Cup was sent home in the quarter-finals itself.
Brazil had topped their group and it seemed Tite’s squad were finally ready to put their embarrassing 7-1 defeat to Germany in the last campaign to bed. But they once again couldn’t put their hands on the silverware as they failed to get past an electric and inspirational Belgium team.
No more please..I can't take this no more…it's hurting..feel for the Brazilian fans here….wow. Will these players ever recover from this
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) July 8, 2014
Thomas Meunier of Belgium always had an eye on the right-winger which led Phillipe Coutinho to come under the scanner. The ex-Liverpool midfielder had to cover every inch of the field providing a helping hand to both defence and attack.
And Brazil’s 2-1 loss to Les Diables Rouges spoke volumes about the imbalance there existed in Tite’s squad. Though the 29-year-old can turn the game on its head at any point, his galactic ego reduced Brazil’s chances of brushing aside rivals.
This one is for Belgium! #redtogether 🇧🇪 pic.twitter.com/Tujc5oDNo5
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) July 6, 2018
SORRY I’M INJURED
Neymar’s injury news before the Copa America in 2019 sent shockwaves around the footballing world. The team who couldn’t make it past the group stage in 2015 with Neymar had to reach new heights without him this time. But Canarinho didn’t disappoint and went all the way to lift the Copa America Trophy.
OFFICIAL: Neymar has been ruled out of Copa América with an ankle injury.
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) June 6, 2019
In the last few seasons for his club, the Brazilian party-animal has missed out on crucial matches owing to his injuries. Not to forget that he missed out on the Copa America for Brazil and his performance in the 2018 World wasn’t too inspiring.
Once considered the rightful heir to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the performance of the boy from Santos has declined lately. He left the Catalans to move outside the shadow of Messi but soon found himself second to Kylian Mbappe at Paris. The youngster outshone his senior partner in every aspect of the game and Neymar’s productivity took an u-turn.
WILL HE FEATURE IN THE TEAMSHEET?
Tite has always been a mastermind on the football pitch. His aim is only to get results for Brazil rather than satisfying egos. Neymar could prove to be the show-stopper going into the Copa America but won’t surely be too dependent on him. He could be a part of the team sheet in the initial matches but the likes of Richarlison or Vinicius Junior could take over.
With their stature growing at their domestic clubs and Neymar losing his importance in the eyes of his coach, it might be possible that he doesn’t feature in the playing eleven.
📋 Convocados da #SeleçãoBrasileira
Neymar Jr. – @PSG_inside
Richarlison – @Everton_PT
Vinicius Jr. – @realmadrid pic.twitter.com/JK7J9QdHWp
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) May 14, 2021
But a fact that can’t be demolished is that he carries the tag of ‘World-Class’ with him. He could turn the game on any given day and could produce jaw-dropping performances on the football field.
Whatever it is the Brazilian management will have to think about what the future beholds for Neymar. Is it time for the younger generation to step in and take centre stage or does Neymar have few more tricks left up his sleeve? The decision has to be made quickly keeping in mind that the newest edition of Copa America is inching closer day by day. And Brazil won’t be satisfied until and unless they bring the trophy back to their home country.