Tense moments were abound at Camp Nou and across Brazil after Neymar was forced to leave a training session leading up to the national team's friendly clash with South Korea. The 21-year-old sensation is a vital element for both club and country.
At first, the outlook for a quick recovery didn't look promising. SportsCenter reported Neymar was doubtful for the South Korea match due to a hip injury. At the time, he was going for further evaluation to determine the extent of the ailment.
Brazilian superstar Neymar injured his hip in national team training and is doubtful for Saturday match. No word on extent of the injury.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 10, 2013
Luckily, the damage was minimal and Neymar was able to bounce back in time for the match. He drew the start for the Selecao and played all 90 minutes, bringing his trademark flair and attacking presence to the contest.
Most importantly, he showed very few ill effects from the injury. He was tested by the Taegeuk Warriors, who utilized a very aggressive, physical style of defending in an attempt to slow down the dynamic Brazilian attack.
Neymar survived a couple of hard tackles and seemed to come out of the match no worse for wear.
He even delivered a perfectly-placed free kick to give Brazil the lead just before halftime. The attempt didn't even carry a ton of pace, but the pinpoint shot was enough to beat Jung Sung-Ryong just inside the post after beating the wall.
It's moments like that which explain why both the Brazilian national team and Barcelona were so concerned when he took the initial knock. If he was forced to miss time, both sides would struggle to replace him.
Brazil is already looking toward the World Cup. Expectations are on the rise for the hosts after a strong showing in the Confederations Cup. Continuing to build chemistry between now and next summer is essential.
Were you surprised Neymar played the friendly?
As for Barcelona, they are always expecting a tough fight from rival Real Madrid. But the emergence of Atletico Madrid as a legitimate championship contender in La Liga has made the presence of Neymar alongside Lionel Messi even more important.
The two are budding as an attacking duo. Neymar, and Messi for that matter, need to stay healthy in order to keep making progress. Barca is off to a great start, but the matches are only going to get more difficult moving forward.
Neymar is a vital piece of the puzzle for both Brazil and Barcelona. So any time he takes a hard tackle or suffers a knock in training, it's going to attract a lot of attention.
The latest scare turned out to be nothing more than exactly that, a scare, and both teams were happy to see another solid showing from Neymar in the friendly.