If the Brazilians are going to start off their World Cup on the right foot, they’re going to do it without the six-time player of the year. Brazil manager Vadao has announced that Marta will miss Sunday’s tie with Jamaica as she recovers from a left thigh injury.
“She has been recovering better than expected, but she cannot start,” Vadao said at a news conference. “Maybe she will be on the bench, but our plan is that she doesn’t take part in the game.”
Marta suffered the injury in practice more than two weeks ago, so you know it’s at least somewhat serious. She returned to training on Tuesday, but isn’t yet ready to go. Her team had better hope she’s close.
While Marta, at age 33, is not quite what she used to be (i.e. the best player in the world by far), she’s still expected to be a huge part of Brazil’s attack. The problem is that Brazil doesn’t have a ton of breathing room. They’re older and slower and they’ve lost eight in a row, and they’re not even the highest-ranked team in their group—that’d be Australia, whom the seleção play on Thursday. While Brazil hope Marta’s back for that match, they need her for their June 18 match against Italy, who are expected to challenge for second place in the group.
Jamaica shouldn’t present too much of a challenge for a Marta-less Brazil, but it’s hard to think of any other squad more primed to be upset by a younger team with fresher legs. Marta has already called this the worst team she’s ever been a part of. Brazil already have more than enough problems without having its best player unavailable.