COPA DEL REY

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Neymar suffers injury against Getafe

Neymar
Neymar's transfer to Barcelona has garnered much criticism and controversy.
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Dermot Corrigan

Dermot Corrigan is a freelance Irish sportswriter who lives in Madrid and writes about soccer for several publications, including FOXSoccer.com, Sport 360°, When Saturday Comes and Iberosphere. Contact him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan.

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GETAFE, SPAIN

RISING STAR

Neymar may be young, but he already has many memorable moments.

A serious looking ankle injury picked up by Barcelona attacker Neymar in Thursday evening’s Copa del Rey 2-0 victory at Getafe had blaugrana supporters -- and Brazil fans -- fearing the worst as horrific looking images circulated of what had the look of a season-ending injury.

The Catalan club have however tried to play down the problem, saying it is not as serious as first feared. Although ahead of tests to be carried out on Friday, the €65 million man is a doubt for Barca’s last 16 Champions League first leg game at Manchester City on February 18 at the very least.

After a quiet opening to Thursday’s Copa second leg in suburban Madrid, with the game still scoreless, Neymar beat his marker on the outside and stretched to cross the ball with his left foot. Although the Getafe defender attempting to block made no contact, it was immediately clear that something had gone wrong -- with Neymar sinking to the ground and signalling to the bench for immediate attention.

After receiving some treatment off the pitch from Barca’s club doctor the 21-year-old tried to stand, but his right ankle refused to take any weight and he crumpled to the ground again. He was then helped around the pitch by two very sombre faced medics. Replays of the incident showed the affected joint twisting at a very unnatural angle, and still images quickly circulated on Twitter showing a pretty horrific looking moment of impact:

While fans and pundits feared the worst an initial examination was carried out by Barca medical staff -- despite a brief power failure inside the ground -- and a club statement soon released.

“Neymar was injured this thursday at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, during the Copa del Rey last 16 second leg at Getafe,” the statement said. "After being attended to by doctors pitchside Neymar had to be substituted because he could not continue. Initial examinations have found that the Brazilian forward has a sprain in the peroneal tendons of his right ankle. It is expected that this Friday, once the team arrives back to Barcelona, the player will undergo more tests to determine the exact extent of the injury.”

Many supporters watching the second half of the game were more concerned about Neymar’s fitness than the final result [Barca were strolling to a 6-0 aggregate win], but blaugrana coach Gerardo Martino took a positive angle at his post-match press conference.

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“Ney is calm,” Martino said. “His father came down to the dressing-room to speak with him. It is not as serious as could be thought. I prefer for the doctors to talk. But I do not believe it will need much time.”

Doctors on Spanish radio -- admittedly without having actually examined the injury in person -- put the likely recovery time for a tendon strain at three weeks. This would leave Neymar just returning to action seven days before the huge first leg against City at Eastlands, giving Martino another injury headache to deal with.

The Barcelona manager’s mood will have been lifted however by Lionel Messi showing his fitness was quickly improving as he scored both Barca’s goals on the night, the second a typical solo effort where he burst past four defenders and rounded the keeper to score.

The Argentine told Catalan TV after the game that he hoped his teammate was fit again soon.

“We hope that Neymar is not away from the pitch for too long,” Messi said. “We need him a lot. He is a very important player for us.”

Barca fans -- and 200 million Brazilians too -- panicked by the night’s images of the injury, will also have their fingers crossed.
 

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