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Why did Brazil seemingly disappoint at the World Cup?

Leading into the World Cup in Qatar, Brazil were widely considered to be the scorching hot favourites to win the tournament. Not only were they stacked with talent across the field but had one of the best players in the world playing for them, Neymar.

In Brazil’s first game of the tournament against Serbia, Neymar suffered a severe inversion sprain to his right ankle. Despite winning the game, the attention quickly turned to this injury and how it will impact the teams ability to go deep in the World Cup. In bringing sports and podiatry together, here is his injury explained.

severe inversion sprain

The inversion sprain happened at around the 80 minute mark as Neymar’s foot got unfortunately caught in a tackle. Surprisingly, he did continue to play for a period of 13 minutes before exiting the game. Post match footage of Neymar leaving the stadium revealed that he wasn’t wearing a brace, CAM walker or on crutches, giving confidence that it wasn’t anything more severe than just a lateral ankle sprain.

The ligaments concerned in a lateral ankle sprain involve the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL).

lateral ankle sprain

Looking at the region of swelling, it is likely Neymar suffered a medium/high grade sprain of his ATFL. Despite being confident in no further damage being done, the Brazil medical staff would have done some scans to ensure no fracture of the bones making up the ankle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxgqIFr8iJ4

Following the above link, you can see some of the advanced rehabilitation exercises Neymar was doing to get his ankle back to full health. These exercises aren’t commonly prescribed due to it being a little more high risk for another sprain if not done under supervision.

Neymar ultimately returned for the round of 16 and quarter final, but was clearly not at his best due to the ongoing ankle injury and Brazil ultimately lost to Croatia.

How much of Neymar’s injury contributed to Brazil’s shortcomings in this world cup? 

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