TERESõPOLIS, Brazil: Brazil briefly held its breath when Neymar went down clutching his right ankle in training yesterday, but the incident turned out to be nothing more than a momentary scare.
The fact that the 22-year-old forward went down when none of his national team colleagues were near him suggested a potential problem, just three days ahead of Brazil’s opening World Cup game against Croatia in Sao Paulo.
However, the striker quickly got back up and finished the training game at the Selecao’s Granja Comary base in Teresopolis.
A sprain to Neymar’s right ankle earlier this year sidelined him from Barcelona’s ranks for just under four weeks.
Yesterday’s training session indicated that coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will send out the same side that beat Serbia 1-0 in last Friday’s final warm-up friendly in Sao Paulo when they tackle the Croatians.
It is also the same team that beat Spain 3-0 in last year’s Confederations Cup final in Rio de Janeiro.
The XI comfortably beat Brazil’s supposed substitutes, with David Luiz, Hulk and Fred all scoring from open play and Luiz Gustavo and Neymar -- proving that he had overcome his earlier knock -- both finding the net from set-pieces.
The $100m Neymar is the most recognisable face of the Brazil side. The 22-year-old carries the hopes of a nation as he attempts to inspire his country’s first World Cup triumph on home soil.
The young striker was the star of Brazil’s victory in the Confederations Cup last year, finishing with four goals and the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.
The latest holder of Brazil’s coveted No.10 jersey, previously worn by World Cup greats such as Pele, Neymar had a mixed first season in Europe after joining Spanish giants Barcelona in a controversial transfer from Santos valued at more than $100m. He suffered a foot injury at the end of the season which ruled him out for several weeks, but has looked sharp in Brazil’s games leading into the tournament.Agencies