Grief encounter: Brazilians wait nervously for surgery on Neymar
While Paris Saint-Germain's faithful come to terms with how to cope without one of their most prolific strikers for the rest of the season, Neymar's fellow Brazilians are sweating over the 26-year-old talisman's return to national colours.
The striker will be sidelined for up to three months after undergoing surgery on his broken foot, his doctor said. He will return perilously close to the start of the World Cup in June in Russia.
Neymar was stretchered off the Parc des Princes in tears on 25 February during the Ligue 1 match against Marseille. He will miss the remainder of the season.
After initial uncertainty about the severity of the injury, further tests revealed that the 222 million euro signing from Barcelona suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal on his right foot, along with a sprained ankle.
Brazil national team surgeon Rodrigo Lasmar, who will lead the surgery at the Mater Dei hospital in Belo Horizonte on Saturday, explained there is no quick fix for the striker."It's not a simple fracture," he said. "It is a fracture in an important bone in the middle of the foot."
Images of Sunday's potentially cataclysmic duel between Neymar and Marseille player Bouna Sarr have been replayed incessantly on Brazilian television, often in gory slow-motion.
Seleçao supporters care little about the impact on PSG, their attention is hysterically trained on the World Cup where they have ambitions of sambaing away with a sixth title. Four years ago on home soil, Germany humiliated them 7-1 in the semi-finals.
"Brazilians have high hopes for the World Cup with Neymar and many are afraid he won't be able to take part," said kiosk owner Gabriel Tavares Barreto in Rio de Janeiro."I think he'll recover in time ... but that's what Brazilians are worrying about," the 21-year-old added.
"I don't think we can really talk about fears of him not being at the World Cup. But there is a noticeable haste to find a solution so that Neymar will have recovered in time," an ESPN Brasil sports commentator, Mauro Cezar Pereira, told AFP.
Lasmar said he was aware of the pressure to restore Neymar to World Cup winning health. "It's clear there are goals to reach in terms of timing and we will do our best to meet the deadlines."
Even so, Neymar might not come back to play at full strength during the World Cup where Brazil's Group E campaign begins on 17 June against Switzerland.
Such maddening margins beg the question: will Neymar be able to lead his country to another triumph? "We just might have lost the World Cup last Sunday," lamented radio commentator, Milton Neves on Bandnews FM.
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