No choreography this time. No pigeon dance or another bird, the Seleçao’s dream of a sixth world star has definitely taken a beating. It never rains in Doha, but the tears of Neymar and his partners water the central circle of the lawn of the Cité de l’éducation stadium, this Friday, December 9. The favorite of this World Cup fell from above, from the quarter-finals, eliminated by remarkable Croatians of solidarity for 120 minutes and still with icy composure in the penalty shootout (1-1 ap , 4-2).
Prostrate at the penalty spot, Marquinhos sees again and again his shot hitting the post. The image refers to cursed European evenings with Paris-Saint-Germain, ghosts of “remontada”. Football is sometimes cruel when it chooses a charming boy coupled with a great defender to embody the misfortune of a country.
“Marqui” had advanced as the fourth shooter, before Neymar. Some see it as a fault and yet another sin of pride, that of a star who wanted to keep the beautiful role. There are as many theories as there are possible “penal” failures on the place to be assigned to your best specialist in the exercise. His coach, Tite, defends this option with valid arguments. “The fifth shot on goal was decisive, there was more pressure, it took the best mentally prepared player to take that last penalty,” advance the one who leaves his functions, as announced for a long time.
“They scored on their only shot on target”
At 30, Neymar does not yet know if his dream of a world title has passed. The Parisian has already put forward the idea of a last lap in the World Cup. “I don’t know if I will still have the condition, the mind, to support even more football”, he confided before the tournament to the DAZN streaming platform. Publishing a photo of a Brazil coat of arms surmounted by a hypothetical sixth star was perhaps not the best idea, but we must also defend the artist Neymar, excuse him for his faults. Also remember this 105e minute, his inspiration, his technical finesse to finish the job and finally beat Dominik Livakovic, this goalkeeper on whom the balls ricocheted for almost two hours.
At this precise moment, Neymar equals “King” Pelé as the top scorer in the history of his selection, with his 77e aim. Brazil then holds the victory which forges your destiny, five days after a ballad South Korean trompe l’oeil (4-1). But Croatia is made of another metal; iron discipline and titanium mind, Luka Modric’s partners never give up. In a match where they mostly (well) defended, the unfortunate 2018 finalists believed in their luck, also that of a savior coming off the bench.
You have 58.87% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.