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Neymar’s ankle injury: Recovery time, implications for Brazil

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Brazil’s superstar captain, Neymar, went down with a right ankle injury in their first group-stage match versus Serbia. Neymar injured his ankle in the 67th minute of the contest, and, true to form, he played for an additional 13 minutes until he was officially substituted out in 80th. Based on our video analysis, Neymar’s ankle got caught under a Serbian player and rotated with an inversion and rotational mechanism, suggestive of a typical low ankle sprain. At the end of the game, he had his shoe and sock off his right ankle — visibly showing the injury to the lateral (outer) ankle ligaments of the ankle with characteristic swelling around the lateral malleolus and extending to the front and medial (inner) side. There was also some significant ecchymosis or bruising around the ankle joint, especially on the lateral side. This is indicative of a typical lateral ankle sprain and is supported by video analysis.

Brazil’s Neymar suffers ankle injury and could miss 1-3 weeks

Neymar suffered a sprained ankle in Brazil’s win over Serbia. Dr. Matt Provencher gives you his prognosis for the Brazilian superstar

Due to the injury, it is expected Neymar will miss the rest of the group stage and possibly even the early games of the knockout stages. However, this is still to be determined as he may be able to rehabilitate the ankle in a week or two for a knockout stage return. Our best estimate is that he will likely miss the next two games in the Group Stage, and possibly the earliest part of the knockout round. Brazil plays Cameroon and Switzerland next in the group stage which, if Neymar doesn’t play, will give him a minimum seven days of recovery, as well as a few additional days of recovery until the knockout stage begins. 

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Overall, he has a significant chance to return 10-14 days from the injury, but we will monitor this closely to see how he progresses. Neymar will be working extensively with his physical therapy and medical team to control and minimize swelling, to work on ankle range of motion, muscle strengthening — particularly of the ankle muscles on the outer side of the ankle (peroneal brevis and longus) and also proprioception work — which is the ability to know instantaneously the position of your ankle, which is crucial to high-caliber play. This, of course, would be devastating for Brazil, considering he is one of the best players on earth and Brazil is certainly one of the early World Cup 2022 favorites. This is also expected to be Neymar’s last World Cup, but he has not completely ruled out playing in 2026. Regardless, we hope Neymar will recover quickly.

Renowned orthopedist Dr. Matt Provencher and his company, ThePredictors.com, deliver data-driven injury insights to football fans. Provencher provides important predictive player health and recovery information about post-injury performance, the impact of weather, field conditions and more. 


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