He entered the Qatar World Cup finals with a wild desire to win the title for the first time since 2002 and the sixth in its history, but the curse of Neymar’s generation struck him again, to postpone the dream of the Brazilian national team for another four years after the end of the campaign at the quarter-finals.
The dream ended, and Neymar again seemed unable to follow in the footsteps of his great predecessors after falling, Friday, at the hands of Croatia on penalties, during a match in which the joy of the French star Paris Saint-Germain evaporated by equaling the number of legend Pele in terms of the number of goals in the colors of “Seleção”.
Coach Tite’s team believed that all opportunities exist this time to give his country a long-absent title after a perfect qualifying campaign and the brilliance of most of its stars, especially in the front line with the presence of Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Rodrigo.
Tite put his team on the right track and shook off the dust of the historic defeat against Germany 1-7 in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, by leading him to crowning the Copa America in 2019, then he went through the South American qualifiers without any defeat.
Tite raised the bar by telling the British newspaper The Guardian last June, “We have to reach the final and become champions. That’s the truth. In Russia I was the coach in different circumstances (after Dunga was sacked). Today I have the chance to complete the four-year cycle. Expectations are high but I’m focused on the work”.
Tite competed in the Qatar finals with lines with tremendous experience, starting with Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, and the two centers of defense, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, passing through the midfield with Casemiro and a wonderful fan of attackers led by Neymar.
But everything ended, on Saturday, at the hands of the Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Levakovic and the right post, who blocked two penalty kicks for Rodrigo and Marquinhos, which means that the dream of a sixth star has been pending at least for 24 years, that is, the period extending from the last title in 2002 and the next World Cup in 2026, so that a lean period will be repeated. The national team tested it between its third title in 1970, led by Pele, and the fourth in 1994, led by Romário.
Falling before the semi-finals, Neymar and his companions did not perform better than the situation was in 2006, 2010 and 2018, while the best result since the coronation of 2002 was reaching the semi-finals in 2014 on the land of “Selesau” when he suffered a historic humiliating defeat against Germany 1-7.
We carry this weight.
This obviously raises the question of the enormous expectations placed on the shoulders of the Brazilian players and the pressure they are experiencing from the relentless desire to win this sixth title.
“We carry this weight like all Brazilians. Since 2006, everyone wanted Brazil to win the sixth star,” Rafinha admitted before the finals.
But years pass, and the dream is now postponed until 2026, when the tournament will be organized in the American continent, but in the northern part of it, it will be a participation between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
But the 23rd edition of the finals will undoubtedly be without Thiago Silva (38 years old now), Dani Alves (39 years old), and most importantly without Neymar, who hinted last year that the World Cup in Qatar would likely be his “last”.
“I don’t know if I will still have the necessary and mentality to bear more football,” the Saint-Germain star told the “Dazone” streaming platform.
And he repeated that Friday, and said after the loss, “I do not close any doors on the national team, but I also do not guarantee 100 percent that I will return.”
Neymar may change his position after the evaporation of the dream, as he can continue to play at the highest levels even then, since he is not more than thirty years old and has a long contract with Saint-Germain.
Neymar risks ending his international career with only the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2016 Olympic gold medal, because he was out of the squad when Tite’s men won the 2019 Copa America.
And from a back injury to others in the foot and ankle, this relationship linked Neymar to the national team more than the 77 goals that made him the same distance from the historic scorer Pele.
And if the question of Neymar staying with the national team or not is not settled, then the journey certainly ended for Tite, whose opinion was already decisive before the finals, by announcing that the World Cup in Qatar would be the end of his journey with “Seleção”.
Thanks to the inexhaustible pool of talents, such as Richarlison or Vinicius Junior, Rodrigo or Anthony and Gabriel Martinelli, “Seleção” will be able to reinvent himself regardless of his future coach, but the pressure to win the sixth title will remain and a huge weight until the dream comes true.