Neymar has been handed a one match ban following his red card after full-time in Brazil’s 1-0 defeat to Colombia, but could still face further punishment.
The Seleção skipper endured a night to forget in the Chilean capital as he clashed with Jeison Murillo at the end of the game. The Barcelona forward head-butted the Colombia goal scorer before being shoved by Carlos Bacca, who was also sent off for his actions after the final whistle.
Neymar will now miss Brazil’s crucial final group game against Venezuela on June 21, a match Dunga’s men may still have to win with all four teams in Group C level on three points heading into the last round of fixtures.
Even before his shameful post-game antics, Neymar failed to make an impact at Estadio Nacional. The 23-year-old struggled to assert himself like he had done against Peru in game one and became increasingly frustrated as he was continually thwarted by Colombia.
The treble winner was shown a yellow card in the first-half for trying to score with a handball and protested the decision, clearly putting his hands on the referee and pulling back the official.
Moments later, a poor tackle from behind on the phenomenal Carlos Sanchez was again awarded with Neymar punching the ball in frustration at the decision. Both of these acts could easily were worthy of a second booking.
At one point of proceedings, Dani Alves was seen telling his young compatriot to calm down and as captain of the national team, Neymar must learn to deal with situations more maturely.
Similarly, Colombia’s James Rodriguez admitted he told Neymar to compose himself as the two sides argued at full-time.
In game one of their Copa América campaign, Brazil were fortunate to have a player of Neymar’s talent at their display as they huffed and puffed against a resolute Peruvian side. The tie was ultimately won by a moment of genius from the captain as he sumptuous final-minute through-ball found Douglas Costa at the back post to tap-in from close range.
But the match against Colombia showed us that Neymar is yet the finished article. He was denied space and time to ever truly exhibit his joyous dribbling ability and was uninspiring: symbolic of Brazil’s performance, as ever.
Arguably the greatest footballing nation, Brazil are currently wallowing in a negative period but their once proud confidence has soured to arrogance. Their claim to parade beautiful football has vanished, particularly under Dunga, and the era of Joga Bonito is over.
In a game in which Chilean referee Enrique Osses officiated well, the head coaches’ post-match press conference verged on delusion, commenting: “It’s never a good thing when at the end of a match we’re talking about the referee. I think if you look at what happened, including at the end, you have to conclude it has something to do with the referee. It’s more than just coincidence.”
Chelsea’s Willian backed up his boss’s thoughts and says Brazil’s superstar needs to be protected: “The referees have to respect Neymar because he is always getting hit. It happened again today, and he was the one sent off.”
Meanwhile, eccentric full-back Dani Alves, never one to shy away from the spotlight, claimed everyone is against his team, “Referees have to stop thinking that they are the stars,” Alves said. “The stars are not them, they are there to control the game. We are used to this in South America, everyone here is against Brazil.”
For large periods of last summer’s World Cup, Neymar carried his country and it appears the same trend is happening once again. Roberto Firmino was brought on for the final 15 minutes against Peru but the in-demand Hoffenheim striker looks low on confidence, exemplified by his shocking open goal miss against Colombia.
This was Brazil’s first reverse to Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Men) in 24 years and Dunga’s first defeat since taking over for a second spell, having won all of his previous 11 matches.
The Seleção do not look strong enough to truly challenge for this competitions top prize, indeed, without Neymar, the country could potentially fall out of the tournament in the group stage (it’s unlikely) if other results go against them.
A decision on the length of Neymar’s ban is set to be announced later today and despite his imprudent and irresponsible behaviour, Brazil desperately need their star player to return and showcase maturity – and his true potential – should they reach the latter stages of the competition.