Neymar: Will Barcelona and Brazil Star Arrive at World Cup Prepared?

Robbie BlakeleySpecial to Bleacher ReportApril 29, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01:  Neymar of Barcelona grimaces as he goes to ground during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

With Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari managing to define his starting XI for the FIFA World Cup long ahead of schedule, the last thing he needed was an injury to one of his principal players.

Barcelona forward Neymar is set to miss the rest of the Spanish domestic season with a foot injury sustained in the Copa del Rey final a fortnight ago, as reported by The Daily Mail. Initial reports had the starlet out for around four weeks, meaning he would be back in plenty of time for Brazil's World Cup opener against Croatia on June 12.

Contrary to the country's off-field preparations, Felipao's plans have been running like clockwork.

What's more, Neymar is the face of his new look Brazil side, a brave new dawn for the game's most successful nation. Following a barren run spanning two tournaments, and the upheaval of political unrest that has accompanied the country's countdown to the finals, the 22-year-old former Santos striker was the man to shoulder the responsibility of bringing the cup home.

Neymar is the face of Scolari's Brazil side.
Neymar is the face of Scolari's Brazil side.Gallo Images/Getty Images

He may be back, if his recovery runs smoothly, for Barcelona's final La Liga game of the season, a potential title decider against Atletico Madrid. But come the World Cup, that would mean, at most, having played just one competitive fixture in the last six weeks.

It could, of course, play to Brazil's advantage. A delicate situation such as this can go in one of two directions.

Scolari and Brazil could reap the benefit of a fully rested Neymar. This has, after all, been the forward's first season in Europe at one of the world's biggest clubs.

To add even more pressure, the transfer has since been shrouded in controversy and subsequently helped spell the end of Sandro Rossell's reign as club president, as reported by The Guardian.

Neymar could benefit from a period of rest after a tough first season in Spain.
Neymar could benefit from a period of rest after a tough first season in Spain.Alex Caparros/Getty Images

He has had to deal with former stars, such as Johan Cruyff, claiming the Brazilian and Lionel Messi cannot function in the same team. It has been an enormous workload for the youngster over the past eight months.

After playing the first half of 2013 for Santos, the Confederations Cup for Brazil and then joining the Catalan outfit, it has been well over a year since Neymar had any prolonged period of rest. A few weeks away from a football pitch could do him, and Brazil, the world of good.

Then there is the flip side of the coin. Neymar has largely received mixed reviews from his first year in Spain, as discussed previously by Bleacher Report's Tre' Atkinson.

He is no longer the big fish but neither is he the forgotten act. He has more than held his own in one of football's most demanding environments.

Neymar is the first player in history to score a hat-trick in the Copa Libertadores and UEFA Champions League.
Neymar is the first player in history to score a hat-trick in the Copa Libertadores and UEFA Champions League.Felipe Dana

Neymar made history earlier this year by becoming the first player ever to score a hat-trick in both the Copa Libertadores and the Champions League. It has, primarily, been a year of highs as the Brazilian's career path continues its upward trajectory.

To succeed in such an intense atmosphere doesn't only need dedication. It needs 100 percent focus 100 percent of the time.

If Neymar suddenly switches off that level of concentration it may have a detrimental effect over June and July. Will he need time to find his feet, or can he return as if he has never been away, as Ronaldo did so successfully at the 2002 World Cup?

Brazil are under a huge amount of pressure to win this competition for various reasons, some sporting, some not. Scolari and his men can make a statement of intent by racing out of the blocks just like they did in the Confederations Cup.

Last June, the Selecao comprehensively dispatched Japan 3-0 in the competition's opening game. The scorer of the game's first goal, after only three minutes, a thundering drive from 25 yards? You know who.

Neymar's partnership with Fred was key to Brazil's success last year, the pair scoring nine goals in five games. If he is off the pace this time, that unity suffers, Brazil's target man remains in isolation and the offensive ploy is thrown off kilter.

In short, Brazil need a fully functioning Neymar for their quick-paced offensive unit to pay dividends. Whether he will return for the most important tournament of his short career with all guns blazing is another matter.