Belgium’s Courtois and Brazil’s Neymar to miss Euros and Copa America

Belgium’s Courtois and Brazil’s Neymar to miss Euros and Copa America

Belgium’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, holds the ball in the Euro 2024 qualifier game against Austria at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, June 17, 2023. /CFP

Belgium’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, holds the ball in the Euro 2024 qualifier game against Austria at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, June 17, 2023. /CFP

Both Belgium and Brazil will miss a key player in the coming major tournaments in 2024 due to injury. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois won’t appear in the UEFA European Championship (Euro 2024) for Belgium, and Neymar won’t play for Brazil in Copa America.

Courtois suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in August and hasn’t appeared for Real Madrid this season.

“Everything is going according to plan, even a little better than expected,” Courtois said in an interview with Belgium’s Sporza on Tuesday. “I would normally only be able to start walking after four months, but I’ve already been working on it for a week. I haven’t had any setbacks. Now it’s important to be patient.”

“Because of the injury, there will be no European Championships for me. First, I have to recover 100 percent, and then it’s better not to put a date on it. If I’m lucky, I can play in May. But then you can never be 100 percent ready for a big tournament,” he added.

Domenico Tedesco, manager of Belgium, attends the post-game press conference in Tallinn, Estonia, June 19, 2023. /CFP

Domenico Tedesco, manager of Belgium, attends the post-game press conference in Tallinn, Estonia, June 19, 2023. /CFP

Domenico Tedesco, manager of Belgium, attends the post-game press conference in Tallinn, Estonia, June 19, 2023. /CFP

However, injury may not be the only reason for Courtois’ exit from the Belgian national team. In June, he left the team’s training camp after the 1-1 Euro 2024 qualifier game against Austria, which revealed his conflict with manager Domenico Tedesco. The two gave conflicting reasons for what happened.

“It was the wrong decision to leave after the match against Austria. I’d like to apologize to the team and especially the supporters,” Courtois said in the interview. “My decision had a small impact on me personally, but it was big for the group. It created unrest before the match in Estonia.”

Courtois again denied that he left the national team’s training camp due to captaincy but said he didn’t feel enough respect there.

“Here, in Madrid, I get respect from everyone at the club. With [Belgium], I don’t really feel that,” Courtois said. “On the Saturday of the match, a few hours before kick-off, Tedesco said Romelu was captain against Austria, and I was captain against Estonia. Something snapped inside me. I couldn’t handle it anymore.” 

“Tedesco gave me seven different versions for why Romelu was captain. Every time it was different,” he further explained, saying, “The coach made no effort to find a solution but simply said that he would tell the press everything. He wanted to pressure me not to leave and threaten me. It was a private conversation. That’s a breach of trust between player and coach.”

Euro 2024 will take place in Germany from June 14 to July 14, 2024. Belgium are in Group E with Slovakia, Romania and the playoff Winner B. Israel, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ukraine will compete for that berth in late March 2024.

Neymar of Brazil exits the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier game against Uruguay at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay, October 17, 2023. /CFP

Neymar of Brazil exits the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier game against Uruguay at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay, October 17, 2023. /CFP

Neymar of Brazil exits the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier game against Uruguay at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay, October 17, 2023. /CFP

When Neymar suffered a serious knee injury in the 2026 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier game against Uruguay in mid-October, the Brazilian national team’s doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, said it would be a lengthy recovery. On Tuesday, Lasmar confirmed that Neymer won’t play at Copa America in 2024.

“It’s too early,” Lasmar told Brazil’s Rede 98. “There’s no point in skipping steps to recover sooner and taking unnecessary risks. Our expectation is that he will be prepared to return at the start of the 2024 season in Europe, which is August.”

“We need to be patient. Talking about a return before nine months is premature; this is a global concept for knee ligament surgeries recovery. It is very important to respect the biological time, the time the body takes to reconstruct that ligament. If we follow those steps and after a long recovery, the expectation is that he can perform again at a high level,” the team director added.

Neymar scored an all-time leading 79 goals in 129 games for Brazil. Copa America will take place in the U.S. from June 20 to July 14, 2024. Brazil are in Group D with Colombia, Paraguay and the winner between Costa Rica and Honduras in the playoffs. In 2021, Brazil watched their long-time rivals, Argentina, win the tournament title at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

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