The South American World Cup Qualifiers ended on Tuesday, and Brazil faced Venezuela away from home without their biggest star, Barcelona forward Neymar. The Seleção still comfortably won the game against the Vinotinto, and Tite's side didn't seem to miss its best player too much.
Neymar couldn't play against Venezuela because of a one-match ban he picked up thanks to a yellow card he got against Bolivia last Thursday. Neymar was phenomenal in that match, but he did look a little angry and got in constant altercations with the Bolivian defenders, which even led to an elbow to his face from an opponent. After a few issues with the opponents, Neymar got booked and was forced to serve a suspenion in the Venezuela match.
On Tuesday morning, several hours before his national team played, Neymar was back in training with his Barcelona teammates, and he looked happy and revitalized after getting unexpected four extra days of rest thanks to the suspension. Which begs the question: did Neymar force his yellow card against Bolivia to avoid a tough trip to Venezuela, return to Catalonia and get some rest during the weekend?
The answer is: Y-E-S. YES. In fact, according to reports in Brazil, Barça coach Luis Enrique and Brazil manager Tite had agreed beforehand that Neymar needed a rest, and the player knew he was allowed to be booked and suspended, which led him to intentionally force the yellow card. Neymar was immediately allowed to leave the national team camp after Thursday's match and returned to Barcelona the following day, spending the weekend at home and getting three full days of rest before rejoining the squad for training on Tuesday.
This isn't the first time Neymar forces a suspension to get out of games he doesn't really want to play. He did that once already in the World Cup Qualifier last year, and that also happened with Barcelona when Neymar forced a yellow card to avoid a La Liga match away from home against Eibar and travel to Brazil for his sister's birthday, with consent and approval from Luis Enrique and the rest of the squad.
Neymar works his butt off in training and in games, so there's no problem with him taking some days off. Not every player is a maniac who wants to play every single minute of every single game, even friendlies (right, Messi?), and the extra rest will give Neymar a good chance of being at the peak of his powers for the next three weeks, which includes La Liga trips to Valencia and Sevilla, and two Champions League games against Manchester City. Yeah, the rest was a good idea.