Neymar looked towards nothing, to a non-existent point, his eyes fixed, glassy, asking fate: why…? why us…? It couldn’t be true, that wasn’t happening. Eliminated in the quarterfinals…? How…? It is not possible, if we are the beautiful game, we have to talk to FIFA… If Brazil was to be champion… It was already champion in betting, in the predictions of fortune tellers, in the severe analysis of journalists, that is, of us, we know that in football two plus two equals seven, but we insist on giving predictions. Because If there is something that the journalist loves, it is the preview. “Make a preview of Boca-River…” And the chronicler leaves, presumptuous, and after half an hour of lecture he concludes that he doesn’t see how Boca could beat River. Of course, then Boca wins and the journalist does not back down at all, and the preview goes to the basket, but it doesn’t matter, tomorrow he will do another preview with the same enthusiasm, distilling wisdom, happy with life.
This was the World Cup in Brazil. You can’t have so many talents together. It is unfair to others. Croatia has an army of Petkovic, Pavlovic, Petrovic, not a Neymar, not a Richarlison, not a Vinicius, not even a Rodrygo or a juggler like Antony. It is a humble plant of unknown soldiers who put on that checkered shirt and fight like Bedouins against the sand and the wind.
The TV stayed with him and the look of 10 was still fixed scrutinizing a horizon that does not exist. There is no tomorrow for Brazil in this Life Cup. It was betting if he would score four goals or five, if he would give Croatia another dance like Korea, if there would be another jogo bonito function, if who would score the goals… Richarlison…? Vinicius…? This was “my” World Cup, Ney seems to be thinking. Brazil’s, yes, but mine. The world would talk about me, I had everything to achieve it, my conditions, my teammates, Tite, the crooked one, the illusion of the country… It was my third World Cup, the previous ones were resounding failures for me, this had to be… Why not me like Pelé or Garrincha, like Tostao or Rivelino, like Romario and Ronaldo…?
But in soccer two plus two equals seven. And everything can turn out the other way around. Devilishly crooked. Let Brazil say it, which in 1950 had the cup so close in its hands that it had to be removed to deliver it to Uruguay. “Would you let me…? It’s theirs…” It was such a champion that the newspapers had already come out and were being sold at the gate of the Maracaná with the title BRASIL CAMPEÃO DO MUNDO, with letters like THE TITANIC SINKED. Here too it sank.
Croatia was a formality, you just had to present some papers, have them stamped and that’s it. Croatia, with its seniority, with its less luster, with its opacity of play, was, however, the first truly serious rival in the World Cup. Not risky, but serious. The above do not fall into the category: Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon, South Korea. What happened…? Things that can happen in this great and exciting, treacherous and illogical game. Faced with a team of seemingly rough, deep-sea fisherman-type guys. But with a great captain, a 37-year-old old man who always leads them to port. And enduring, perfect for the storm that Brazil will unleash on them. And with an angelic-faced archer whose name is Dominik. And that he is a guardian angel. Everything is stopped. If they throw a knife at him, he stops it in the air, just like at Dinamo Zagreb. Be careful that if they go to penalties there is Dominik Livakovic…
Strangely, the minutes were piling up and the Brazilian goals didn’t come. And the first half left. And the second… And the Brazilian faces became serious. But Neymar appeared with a play from his illustrious ancestors and scored a fantastic goal. Now things did make sense and life was going his way. However, some screw was not completely adjusted and the Croatian equalizer arrived. A Petkovic. They were 117 ′, that was it. Nothing was missing. And they went to penalties. And a smell of drama settled in Brazil and of epic in Croatia. Livakovic stopped Rodrygo’s first shot and that’s where the roof collapsed. The Croats missed nothing, Marquinhos sent another shot to the post and the end, an iron curtain fell. Brazil home. Very sad goodbye.
And then Argentina, in another function of strange similarity. Two to zero up with an alien Messi who invents a goal out of nowhere serving it to Nahuel Molina. And then scoring a penalty. An already classic clash in the World Cups in which war and drama abound. Hopelessly lost, Louis Van Gaal draws a winning card from the deck; a giant named Wout Weghorst, 1.97, who comes in and scores two goals. It is a tie when Argentina was already savoring victory. And the dramatism acquires unusual borders. It’s a battle. A journalist suffers a heart attack in the box, meters from where we are writing these lines. It’s just that it can’t stand. The players push each other, fight, argue, the Spanish judge -a clown- takes out cards, gesticulates, bosses around. The tension is suffocating, irrespirable. And in that climate of turbulence, penalties are also reached. And another hero appears, Dibu Martínez, who covers two penalties. And Argentina is a semifinalist. It is an end for Hollywood, although no writer would have imagined such a story.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.