Monday 9 December 2019

Daniel McDonnell: The Brazilian people are getting their fix from their World Cup adventure

Daniel McDonnell shares his latest experiences in Brazil.

In soap operas, a time of celebration is generally followed by a miserable twist. That's why Christmas specials tend to have an unfeasibly high mortality rate.

Instead, in keeping with the hectic nature of their society, a show is devised to last for a year before it's brought to an end and replaced by a new 'telenovela' with an entirely different cast of characters. The mission is to cram as much action as possible into that short lifespan.

Right now, however, the Brazilian people are getting their fix from their national team's World Cup adventures. Luiz Felipe Scolari's charges are certainly succeeding in packing their prime-time exposure with all kinds of drama.

The joy of quarter final success over Colombia last night has quickly been replaced by mourning for the loss of Neymar from the remainder of the competition with a fractured vertebrae.

Television companies were on top of the striker's injury woes from the outset, broadcasting scenes of the stricken Barcelona star being rushed through hospital on a trolley with staff running alongside E.R style.

When the sombre confirmation came through that he was out of the competition, the late night talk shows went into overdrive with viewers of popular station Sport V given a forensic explanation of back injuries by a trauma specialist.

Meanwhile, in Fortaleza, a lonely reporter delivered hourly updates from the outside the hospital where the 22-year-old was treated.

In a surreal twist, his updates were interspersed with the tunes of a samba band that were sitting on the couch for Madruga – a nocturnal hybrid of Soccer AM and Match of the Day.

The Neymar grief managed to distract from analysis of Brazil's performance, a brutish display which won them few friends outside their existing support base. James Rodriguez, the Colombia star, was kicked around the park but, on Madruga, they didn't labour discussion of that topic.

Already, their eyes have turned to the next episode. That's Germany in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, a challenge they will face without their star attacker and also the suspended captain, Thiago Silva.

It means that the excitement of standing 90 minutes from a final in the Maracana is checked by a sense of foreboding. The audience is fearful of the next instalment, but the one certainty is that it won't stop them from tuning in.

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