Neymar’s Brazil Career: The End?

Neymar's Brazil Career

It was meant to be it. It was meant to be the moment for one of the icons of Brazilian football. It was meant to be Neymar’s moment. The headlines were already made: ‘Neymar: The Leader’, ‘Neymar Steps up for Brazil’. However, it was not to be – courtesy of poor game management and perhaps poor penalty shootout strategy from Brazil. Neymar’s golden moment in a bid to solidify his legacy and provide for Brazil the tournament they have yearned for the last twenty years had been stripped away from him. Does this signify the end of Neymar’s Brazil career?

Neymar’s Brazil Career: Is this how it ends?

Neymar had previously announced, perhaps out of impulse that the 2022 World Cup will be his last. If he does stick to that claim, then it is a highly bitter end to World Cup football for one of the modern greats. An end that leaves a large, gaping gap in his footballing legacy. Ronaldinho won the World Cup for Brazil. Pele won World Cups for Brazil. If it is the end of Neymar’s Brazil career, then he has run out of time.

If it is the end of Neymar’s Brazil career, then, unfortunately, all his World Cups with Brazil have ended with a performance that is ultimately labelled as a ‘failure’ by the Seleçao.

In 2014, they lost to Germany 7-1 in the semi-finals, which every Brazilian wants to forget. In 2018, the team could not break into the final four. In 2022, they had the same fate – but perhaps more of a failure as this was meant to be the squad that broke the drought. Could Neymar have done any more?

Logically, these failures have not been due to any major negative influence from Neymar. In 2014, he didn’t get the chance to make a difference for Brazil in that semi-final by way of an injury. The argument can be made that in 2018 against Belgium he could’ve done a lot more. While, against Croatia, he stepped up with a moment of pure elegance and genius. Receiving the ball in midfield, he glided past a Croatian body, laying it off to his teammate who laid it back to Neymar almost begging him to make something happen. Neymar did exactly that. He set up a one-two with Lucas Paqueta, a play which they tried earlier in the game. This time with success. The work wasn’t done there. The Croatian wall known as Livakovic loomed in front of him – but the composure of Neymar triumphed as he took a touch past him and thumped the ball into the back of the night.

It is hard to make a point that he could’ve done any more in the 120 minutes. Brazil’s management certainly stripped him from the opportunity to do any more by not giving him the fourth penalty. Perhaps, Neymar with all his influence should’ve demanded the fourth penalty. The fate of Neymar’s Brazil Career would’ve been in his own hands – albeit, temporarily, but Brazil would’ve had a chance.

The reality remains that Neymar, who is now tied with Pele with the most goals for the Brazilian National team may not score another one. He may not have a World Cup trophy to match his insane achievements. Many Brazilian fans will hope he notes the rise of young stars in this Brazil team and plays in 2026. But if he lives by his words – this is the end of Neymar’s Brazil career and the World Cup trophy won’t come for him.

For some, this may mean an incomplete legacy. For some, it may be a slight dusty patch on an otherwise glittering career. It is something that will certainly cause the great Neymar some pain.

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