Brazil vs. South Korea Live: Neymar Appears Ready to Play; World Cup Updates

Credit…Paul Ellis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For two weeks, the World Cup toyed with new ideas: Lebanese fans masquerading as Qataris. Saudi Arabians posing as trash-talkers. Germans making it look as if they had forgotten how all this is supposed to go. It was all fun and fresh and new.

But now Neymar is quoting James Brown, and the bandleader is playing the classics: Argentina, the Netherlands, England, France. It’s not even Monday, and already the tune has changed at the World Cup.

Neymar returned to training on Saturday after a week on the shelf with an ankle injury. By Sunday, his coach, Tite, was not so subtly suggesting he would start against South Korea. Neymar definitely thinks he will: On social media, the showman quoted a showman, writing, “I feel good, I knew that I would now.”

Could there be a twist or two left? Of course. Morocco is carrying not only its flag but the banner of the Arab world at the first Middle East World Cup. South Korea nearly won its group. Japan did, though that was hardly a surprise to its coach, Hajime Moriyasu. “Our goal for the tournament is to reach the quarterfinal — and least,” he had said when he named his roster in November. Everyone in Europe had a good laugh at that. Now he and his team are 90 minutes away.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s still time for another breakout hit.