Neymar has been the leader of the Brazilian team more than ever, but he leaves without a prize and in tears after losing the final of the 2021 Copa América 1-0 against Argentina this Saturday at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker recovered the great level of play and imbalance that led him to rub shoulders with the best footballers in the world for seasons. A good performance that, however, ends without a title.
Neymar ends the competition with five assists and two goals that leave him very close to the historical record for goals in official matches with Pelé’s green-yellow team. 77 marked the triple world champion by Neymar’s 68, still 29 years old.
The importance of Neymar in the game of ‘canarinha’ is undeniable. Today, it is essential in the five-time world champion. This Saturday he tried everything and of all colors.
The Argentines made him an iron mark. Rodrigo de Paul dried him off, but Neymar never stopped trying. With the final whistle, he completely collapsed. He hugged coach Tite through tears and a few minutes later he went to congratulate an also emotional Lionel Messi.
In the group stage, Neymar led the goals against Venezuela (3-0) and Peru (4-0), with goals and assists. In the third match, against Colombia, Casemiro was served a luxury corner to complete the comeback (2-1) and in Brazil’s only lunar in the group stage, the draw against Ecuador (1-1), he did not play not a single minute.
In the quarterfinals and semifinals against Chile (1-0) and Peru (1-0), respectively, he was also decisive with two passes to Lucas Paquetá. This Saturday, before his friend and former Barcelona teammate Messi, he gave up.
Only the 2013 Confederations Cup continues to appear in his record with the senior team. He also hung a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and a gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Neymar was able to lift the Copa América that Brazil also won at Maracana in 2019, in the final with Peru, but he missed it due to injury, after tearing the ligament in his right ankle nine days after his debut in the tournament.
That 2019 was his particular ‘annus horribilis’. Shortly before that injury and in full concentration with the national team, Neymar had to face a complaint from a model who accused him of raping her in a Paris hotel. Months later the complaint was filed by the Brazilian Justice for lack of evidence.
This 2021 and also on the eve of the Copa América, Neymar did not escape the extra-sports scandals. In May, Nike confirmed that it broke its sponsorship contract with the ‘canarinha’ star because he allegedly did not cooperate in an internal investigation following the complaint of a worker from the American multinational who accused him of sexual assault. Neymar denied it.
“I went through a lot these two years, which were very difficult and complicated,” the shirt 10 commented tearfully after the 4-0 victory over Peru in the group stage.
Now Neymar’s next challenge is the World Cup, the competition that truly paralyzes this continental country of 212 million inhabitants.
The former Santos and Barcelona attacker played Brazil 2014, Germany’s fateful 7-1 in the semifinals, which Neymar missed due to the knee of Colombian Zúñiga in the previous round, and Russia 2018, where they fell to Belgium ( 1-2) in quarters.
By Qatar 2022 it will be almost 31 years old. Brazil is already well on track to qualify. It is the undisputed leader of the South American qualifiers with six victories in the games played to date.
Perhaps the sixth star stamped on the national jersey is the determining factor in gaining the affection of a Brazilian fan that still looks at him with skepticism and that in recent years has disconnected from their national team.
Former Brazilian international and Globo commentator Walter Casagrande summed up that sentiment in a column published on Friday: “The biggest problem is that this team has no identification with the Brazilian fans, and Neymar has become the most disgusting, mocking and disrespectful player. of world football for a few years “.